I woke to the subtle sound of waves crashing against the soft white sands of Playa Popoyo. The sun had just risen and it was already 28 degrees. I walked sleepily down the hostel stairs, collected my surfboard and strolled across the road.
The water was warm and the salty air was doing wanders for my hangover. After a few waves I noticed some blood on the nose of my board, blood that was coming from somewhere on my face. I caught my last wave, had a chat to the local parrot and found a bathroom to tend to my nose bleed.
I crushed breakfast, met up with the crew and kicked into day 4 of the bender. A recipe for a successful Nicaraguan bender requires; A gram of Cocaine, A 1.5L bottle of Rum & of course a well timed joint to ease you into the 2 hour 4AM nap.
When 6am rolls around… rinse (with a morning surf), tend to your nose bleed (from to much cocaine) & repeat. It took a week in Nicaragua to realise how easily I had become addicted to cocaine. The pleasure of ‘smashing lines’ on an isolated beach with; Rum, endless surf & good company was to enticing & incredibly pleasurable.
This was not my first taste of blow but it was the first time I had felt the cruel but seductive tug of drug addiction.
I was lucky enough to find more pleasure in snowboarding and Canada was calling! If I hadn’t discovered snowboarding just 10 months prior you may have still been able to find me on an isolated Nicaraguan beach, smashing coke & tending nose bleeds… 2 years on!
So how the hell do you break a bad habit or addiction when it makes you feel so damn good?
I will keep this blog short and sweet. I aim to dive into addiction further as my knowledge of the subject expands. Don’t worry mum I will not be aiming to acquire the knowledge through any further hands on experience. Although a coke bender in Colombia sounds like one helluva time!
Every single action, reaction or emotion you express in life can be traced back to these basic concepts: Pleasure & Pain. If an experience feels pleasurable then you will be inclined to do it again but if an experience causes you pain then chances are you are going to avoid that pain at all costs.
Let’s explore how we can use pleasure & pain to break an addiction or bad habit.
Old Habits are Hard to Break & New Habits are Hard to Form.
This old saying carries some serious truth behind it. Old habits are formed over months or years of repetition. This repetition becomes imprinted in neural pathways & when these habits are performed they trigger a sense of pleasure, making old habits incredibly hard to break.
New habits can be forced into action through constant repetition and pure human willpower but these habits rarely stay enforced unless they can be associated with great pleasure.
Gym memberships in the new year are a great example! How many people do you know that throw out a new years resolution to get fit and healthy? They join a gym they start eating veggies and talk up a big game for a few months. They see results and they look great but then slowly things start getting quieter.
You stop hearing about the benefits of low carb, kale infused, goji shakes. You stop seeing selfies of Lily as she pumps weights at f45 & you begin to see the tell tale signs of a failed attempt to form a new habit.
The next time you see Lily is at Frank’s 30th, smashing durries(cigarette’s) & pounding pre mixed bourbon & cokes. The weight is back and Dunkin Donut’s just saw a boost in profits! So how the f*ck do we lock these habits in? If pure willpower won’t work then what will?
Associate Deep Pain with Your Exisiting Bad Habit/Addiction.
The first step is not to start pushing the new habit into existence. Regardless of your Rocky Balboa Persistence levels, a new habit will never stay permanent or pleasurable if you can’t associate pain with the old (negative) habit or addiction.
You need to be completely honest with yourself and dive into the negative impacts your addiction/bad habit is having on you and the people around you. This is part of the reason why interventions work.
When you can see, in front of your very own eyes, the deep pain that your addiction causes the people you care about to feel, it triggers a deep pain in your brain. A pain that is directly tied to this limiting habit/addiction.
Associate deep pain with the habit you are trying to remove from your life. As the old limiting habit becomes less pleasurable it becomes easier to implement a habit that empowers you. Only if that habit can be associated with pleasure.
Your New Habit has to be Pleasurable.
Let me ask you a few questions… Why do you go out hunting for a one night stand? Why do you smash that entire tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream while watching re runs of Grey’s Anatomy? Why do you sleep in even though you should be working out at the gym? Why do you smash that f*cking donut every morning Frank!?
Because it makes you feel a great sense of pleasure! Am I wrong?
It is hard to give something up when it makes you smile, and it is just as easy to avoid the tasks that make us cry or feel pain. So the answer is simple then.. if you want to implement an empowering habit to replace your disempowering habit or addiction. You need to associate great pleasure with your new habit.
So how the hell do I do that?
Short and sweet… like a donut… hmm donuts! Dammit!
I want to cover more on this topic but I want to know your opinion. Do you want to work towards breaking old habits? Would you prefer to hear this topic on a podcast? What would you like me to cover on this topic?
Subscribe and then let me know what you want covered in the comments section below.
Break those Habits!
Paulo & Jacques