Habits: How To Quit Wetting Your Pants…
They’ll prosper you or ruin you, and they don’t care which, you get to choose. What are “they?”
Habits shape and control almost everything we do every day -work, relationships, health, spirituality, finances – everything. Success requires intentionally developing habits that work and breaking habits that don’t. In fact, it’s pretty simple:
World class performers have world class habits.
Average performers have habits like everyone else.
Poor performers have poor habits.
World wide organizations and entire industries are built around habit change: weight loss, anti-smoking, AA/Celebrate Recovery, coaching, personal and professional development are all based on habits.
The following is based on my “Virtuoso Habit System,” which is a combination of my own experience, study and opinion. It will be explained in-depth in an upcoming book, but here are the basics.
First of all, no one is a victim of habits. You chose them all, good and bad. And YOU can change your habits; I’ll prove it…
You used to wet your pants. Now you don’t (probably). How did you do that? Your parents mastered three things that all habits are based on (and are the backbone of the “Virtuoso Habit System:”)
Behavior, Association, and Identity.
First they explained the new behavior: “We want you to use the potty.” Then, through praise and disapproval you associated positive things with using the potty, negative things with wetting your pants. You wanted the good associations, so you changed behavior. Finally, to make it permanent your identity changed; you began to see yourself as a big boy/girl who doesn’t wet your pants. Now? You can’t imagine wetting your pants as an option. This may seem oversimplified but in my experience this is exactly how it works with any habit, both ones you want and ones you don’t.
Smoking, as an example…
A professional in my “Virtuoso You” class in Las Vegas has a goal to quit smoking so let’s use this as an example (and I have done this, too, so I’m not a tourist, I’m a native.).
If you smoke it’s not because one day you thought, “Wow, I would just LOVE smoke in my lungs, I want that smell, I want that taste, and cancer? Emphysema…? I gotta have THAT!” No, you associated something with smoking: being cool, rebellion, acceptance, maybe your heroes smoked, whatever. You tried it, you got past the taste, you stopped coughing, the nicotine kicked in, you liked that feeling and you were hooked.
So, what’s going on there?
Association – you associated cool things with this nasty product. Later, you associated smoking with something to do after eating, going out, or a break from work.
Identity – you liked who you were as a smoker, what it said about you.
Behavior – your behavior was controlled by a deadly trifecta: Your association, your identity, and a drug which chemically called you back again and again.
Virtuoso Habit System: How you change habits…
Breaking this habit permanently requires changing all three, usually in opposite order.
1. Behavior – You need to stop, or greatly attenuate your smoking as an act of willpower in the beginning. (Sorry if you were hoping for something easier). To balance the chemical attachment some people have used products like Nicorette gum, the patch, electronic cigarettes, and prescription drugs. But just get started.
2. Association – To ease the pain of the behavior change you must bombard your mind with bad things about smoking: Look at autopsy pictures of the lungs with cancer. Study what the cancer dying process and wretched, extended pain involved really looks like. Think of what it teaches kids… on and on. You can find plenty of bad things with which to associate smoking. List them, think about them. Get scared of it!
3. Identity – Finally, and most importantly you have to change your identity. You need to see yourself as smoke free, a non-smoker. One great way to do this is visualization, which means creating an image of yourself as smoke free. Every chance possible think of yourself as smoke free. In your mind get a beautiful picture of yourself as a non-smoker.
Now, the Virtuoso Habit System applies to developing good habits as well. Again, choose the habit you want and begin – say it’s reading for 30 minutes each day. Behavior – Read for thirty minutes one day and repeat. Association – List and think about all the wonderful things you can think of about regular reading: Being an expert, ability to converse on many subjects, pay increases for your knowledge, helping others, better lifestyle. Identity – SEE yourself as a reader, as intellectual or well-read, as an expert or an authority. Tell people that’s who you are.
Finally, as a Christ Follower I cannot talk about habit change without talking about prayer. I have had plenty of bad habits to change in my life and prayer was and is an integral part of every success I’ve had with habits. Ultimately, I was delivered from the habits I needed to change. Some may be skeptical of this and to you I offer this challenge: Try it. Tell God the habit you’d like to change, pray for his intervention and deliverance from it, maybe look up some bible verses about the habit using Bible Gateway, and see if it doesn’t help.
If you do this, it will work. (And you, too, can quit wetting your pants).