Our Habits: Beyond Control to Mastery
We often have habits in our life that we want to be able to stop. To do this, we strive to control them, and once we feel we are controlling them, we can feel that they are beaten; if we stay in control, then we will be okay. However, mastering our habits takes us even closer to our goals. Here's why.
To break a habit and to stay in control is a good thing – the habit we have controlled might be something that we've been trying to beat for a long time, and it is understandable that we would experience a sense of relief and pride. As long as we stay in control, the problem stays managed. However, this can take some doing. Initially at least, we have to watch ourselves carefully to make sure that we don't slip back. Psychotherapeutic and psychological treatments both have this in common, and it's where many people think the possibility of growth and change ends – but they essentially remain the same person with only this aspect changed.
Mastering our habits
Long-term psychotherapy offers the possibility of deeper change. Rather than just controlling a bad habit, there is the potential for deeper understanding. It is this deeper understanding that allows for mastery. Why know why we are doing the habit and what deep need it serves. This allows for more significant change of the personality at a deep level; this almost makes the habit irrelevant. With longer term work, there is possibility that the self is restructured so fundamentally that the habit is left behind. Take alcohol as an example. If you merely control your drinking, then your life is the same but with alcohol taken out (and replaced with the unmet desire to drink). If you take the time to restructure your life, then your new life doesn't have a place for alcohol in it, and it's unmissed.
Neither approach is intrinsically better than the other – it depends on what the client wants. The type of change that they choose will be related to their personal aspirations, how they see themselves and what they think is possible.
– Tim Hill
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