At any given stage in our self-development, we have some understanding of what is good for us and what is not. We know that basically, the rate of our growth and our proximity to the goals we claim to value depend on the net outcome of our ability to increase what is good for us and reduce or eliminate what is “bad”. Often this equation reveals an undesirable ratio of bad habits vs good ones.
And that’s okay, sometimes.. because nobody is perfect. But, if we are not happy with the progress of our growth, then this is where I believe the problem lies. We are simply too stuck in our old habits.. we become our own worst own enemy.. and the habits linger on. They linger much longer than we would care to admit, and they are undoubtedly holding us back. We may feel shameful about it, but let’s ask.. are these parts of ourselves really us?
Perhaps these bad habits are merely the manifestation of an inner alter ego of sorts, one that is distinctly unique to the inner part of us that desires a better life. Call it temptation, your inner weasel, the devil.. whatever works for you. This weasel can literally be seen as a separate identity or entity of your self that is counter to the interests of your higher self. Our aim of course is to reduce the impact of this weasel, but sometimes brute force and will power are not enough.
So here’s what I’ve learned about what works to quiet your inner weasel.. it all starts with awareness. Awareness that there is even such a thing as this weasel, and that it is not actually who you are. This by the way is true of any problem in your life. It all starts with awareness.. the conscious and intentional recognition of the problem itself as it is happening in real-time. And to gain more awareness in our lives, we must practice it on a regular basis.
This is why meditation practice is so important, because that is precisely the skill it cultivates. When we become aware of the very idea of this separate identity that works against our best interests, we now know what to look for the next time it shows up. And it will show up, multiple times per day. So we meditate, build on our awareness, and finally we are able to catch our egos as they run amuck. Then what?
Well, we simply acknowledge it very sincerely. Whether we ultimately follow through with the bad habit or not, it doesn’t matter. We at the very least recognize what trade-off has been made, and we are now more realistic about the current state of our life situation. It exists for a reason, and here is one very good reason we can now see clearly. There is nowhere to hide anymore you little weasel.. I can see you. And it is only from this place of awareness that transformation can occur.
As part of cultivating your awareness, you are simultaneously reducing limitations your ego is imposing on you. In fact, you get closer to the point of total non-separation between what you will to happen and what happens to you. They are all one thing. You stop trying so hard when you finally realize that there aren’t necessarily separate forces at play.. and so you take a middle way of acting and deciding to act all at once. The habit is ultimately dropped because you just did it.
This is the nature of self-improvement. This is the game. There are two steps forward, and sometimes one step back. This is not meant to discourage us. This is only meant to accelerate the rate at which we grow. Because that is what all of us ultimately wants. To grow, to end suffering, to be alive, and to live a life of excitement, purpose, joy, and love. That is why we do the work. Because deep down we know, it’s all possible.