Thursday, July 30, 2015

7/30/15—Turning My Rut Into A Groove

So, a lot has happened since I wrote the post about "making one better decision". If you haven't read it, scurry over to www.tierneysadler.com and check out the 7/20/15 post. While other posts in the past have probably gotten more hits, no post I remember has garnered the feedback and excitement that I got on Facebook about this super-easy way to get out of a rut. I'm well into week three of following this plan and a couple of big things have happened as a result. 

The first thing is that one of my goals was to move forward with diet and exercise goals. As part of that, one of the "better decisions" I made was to replace Crystal Light with infused water. I had already started that process prior to starting my one better decision plan, but had found that when I combine peach infused water WITH Crystal Light, it was pretty much the best thing I've ever tasted in my life. Which was not helping me with my goal. So, one "better decision" at a time, I managed to quit Crystal Light altogether. And something I didn't expect to happen happened. 

See, I had already known that Crystal Light contained artificial sweeteners. And I knew artificial sweeteners (aspartame in particular) were a big contributor to weight issues, diabetes, fatigue, depression and an uncontrollable sweet tooth, not to mention other stuff like cancer and headaches. And I joked about my "Crystal Light addiction." But imagine my surprise and dismay when I discovered I WAS ACTUALLY ADDICTED!!!

Yes, aspartame is addictive. And I found out when, after a few days without artificial sweeteners, I started suffering withdrawals—headaches, irritability, mood swings, anxiety, sleeplessness. I'd been having these unusual (for me) symptoms for a few days and wondering why, when I got the idea to google "aspartame addiction", and there it was. 

Which is probably why I didn't stop using it when I learned that it was making me fat and diabetic. Addiction has a way of altering your thinking to justify the continuation of your addiction. I learned this after I quit smoking and looked back on the ways I made it OK to continue smoking for 26 years. When you are addicted to something, you are literally not in your right mind. 

So there was that. And the second big thing is that, while sitting in a chair at Hair Cuttery one day, I pondered the possibilities of making one different decision, rather than one better decision. With a different decision, you don't know if it will be better or worse. So I threw caution to the wind and told a stylist at a chain-store, cut-rate hair salon that she could color my hair FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER IN MY LIFE!!! It's true. I've done a henna rinse before but have never dyed my hair a different color. And so now I'm blonder and more highlight-y than before and am happy with the result. 

This last experiment has been very interesting. I am literally forced to see myself differently because every time I look in the mirror, I look different! As it turns out I like the new look. But had it been a disaster, I would have benefited by appreciating my former self more...haha. So I like the way a "different decision" shakes things up and causes you to expand your view of your world. And it certainly wouldn't have to be this dramatic. Something as simple as taking a different route to work one day could render untold gifts. 

Three weeks into this experiment I can easily say I'm forever changed. I'm no longer someone who has never dyed their hair. And I'm no longer someone without a good plan for turning a rut into a groove. I can honestly say I'm feeling better and more positive about the future than I have for years. So what about you? Have you tried this "one better decision" thing out? If so, share your thoughts and results with me. If not, what could it hurt? I'd love to hear how it's working for you!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

7/27/15—Being The Ripple



If you're a regular at the Daily Draw, then you've probably seen this post in some version before. Usually when I do repeat posts, I try to choose one I've never repeated before. But this post is one of my all-time favorite posts, because I think my boy so perfectly illustrates an important tenet of life that we rarely stop to think of. If you don't feel like reading this, but missed last week's entry, then read that one instead. It was probably one of my best received posts ever. :) Or you can randomly pick any one of the more than 1000 posts I've written over the years at www.tierneysadler.com. I'll be back with a live, original post sometime this week to make up for today's repeat. Now here's Kizzie's post....

The other day I saw something I've seen a million times. Only this time, I saw it in a completely different way. My dogs and I took a trip to the park and my boy, Kizzie, decided to go in the river for a dip. As I saw him standing there, I noticed all the ripples issuing out with him at the center. Each time he moved, a new set of ripples would form. And the ripple effect of each motion would continue out into the river, despite the current. Despite anything. Indefinitely.

His presence was recorded throughout the river that day—through the ripples in the water, the displacement of the air around his ripples, and by his ripples meeting the shore and bouncing back. In the same way, his presence was recorded throughout the universe. Beyond that, on land, the wag of his tail, his body temperature and the sound of his breath had a similar effect in the environment around him, sending forth kinetic, sonic and heat waves from his body.

According to Wikipedia, a wave is a "disturbance (an oscillation) that travels through space and time, accompanied by the transfer of energy." Einstein's famous equation, E=MC2, posits that everything in the universe is energy. So what we see in the water above is Kizzie's energetic body having an effect on the water's energetic body. And since energy is never created or destroyed—only transferred—the effect he has is eternal. Pervasive. Ubiquitous.

Our lives work the same way. You create a kind of ripple when you have children...a ripple that goes on way beyond your lifetime. But even if you don't have children, you create it through everyone you come into contact with...every life you touch. There is nothing about us—no thought, no emotion, no scent, no delicate resting of silk on skin—that doesn't cause a disturbance that travels through space and time. 

So imagine the kind of ripple effect even something as simple as a smile can create. You smile at someone and cause them them to smile and feel a little more part of this world. That changes them, even if ever so slightly in that moment, and that change is passed on to the others they encounter that day. The vibration they spread is just a smidge higher than it would have been. And the people they encounter are similarly raised. And so on. And so on. And it ripples around the world, back past the original smiler, indefinitely. 

Of course the same is true about being a grumpy gus.

But the point I'm making is that no matter how "small and insignificant" we are, the impact of our every breath and thought echoes out into the universe to create the "whole". And that impact continues long after our death. We're still benefiting from the simple work of the men who built the railroads, women who showed their independence and the early men and women who moved out of caves and built humanity's first communities. We're also still affected by the ripple created by those who never spoke up against Hitler, spread the belief that the earth was flat and sailed to Africa to grab people and make them slaves in the New World. 

If you've ever been to an emotionally charged historic site, you can still feel it in the air. Occasionally I drive through the Manassas battlefield where so many lost their lives during our Civil War. The air is different there. The "vibe" is palpable. Another place that comes to mind is Cape May, NJ, where the ripples of risque ladies in their swim dresses still echoes in the surf. 

For better or for worse, everything that has ever happened adds to the ripple of everything that ever will. As will your choices to recycle, eat meat, hate a particular race, reach out to the needy or make myriad other choices. We cannot have the foresight to see the impact of our choices in any given moment, but the energy we put out continues to ripple on indefinitely, even if it dissipates over time and is transferred into something else. 

The beautiful thing about this is that, regardless of what you believe about God and heaven, we live on in this very real way for eternity. We matter. No matter how normal and mundane our contributions. Do you think those railroad men, like my grandfather, felt like the kings of transportation, trade, information sharing, development and connection that they were? My mother was one of those women who paved the path for other women to hold "men's jobs". Look at what has come from that! That's not what she was doing—she just wanted to put her competence to good use—but look at what came of it. 

There is a reason for you being here. Even beyond our deaths, in the memories and minds of those we leave behind, we continue to send out ripples that, even for a moment, change the way our loved ones consider their lives. There is nothing we do, nothing we are, that doesn't have this import in the lives around us and the lives around all those people, etc. 

You are the ripple. Everything you say and do this week will be forever felt by the universe. How will you use your infinite power today?

*Today's entry was rewritten from the 5/10/13 version of this post.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

7/20/15—Making One Better Decision

I've been in a funk for a while now. Call it a rut. Stuck. Difficulty moving forward. Or even call it depression. I don't know what it is. Even though I'm feeling much better than this time last year physically, the dark pall of that year of debilitating exhaustion hasn't yet lifted emotionally or spiritually. I liken it to being in a pupa and not being able to get out, no matter how hard I flap my wings. 

A friend told me a story of a butterfly trying to get out of its cocoon. If you help the butterfly by removing the cocoon, it will die. Its wings need the workout of trying to emerge in order to build strength for the new life. I love this story, because it makes me feel like all the false starts and stops I've had along the way are not wasted, but integral parts of my recovery. 

That alone, makes me feel better. But I've found something else that I think could help anyone move forward and make progress, regardless of whether they're in a rut or not. It came to me while I was meditating on finding an answer—make just one better decision each day. Make one decision that moves you forward. 

It's really kind of simple, but I'll bet most people have never consciously set out to do it. It can't be a decision you make every day. So if you already drink enough water each day, you can't make that today's decision. It has to be a better decision than the one you're used to making or want to make. And if you, say, decide to go for a walk today, that doesn't mean you have to go for a walk tomorrow. You can choose a different "better" decision each day. 

Of course, it depends on what your goals are. Mine are diet/exercise and mental wellbeing related. So on Monday, I replaced one of my meals with salad. I buy salad greens with good intentions, but never eat them because I don't like salad. So Monday, instead of deciding to eat whatever else I would normally eat, I ate some salad. On Tuesday, I had an appointment to go to, so I woke up extra early so I could get my car inspected prior to the appointment. This is one of the chores that hangs over my head and tortures me, so it was a good decision. In fact, I've made a lot of those "hangs over my head" kind of decisions this week. 

Another decision I made, which could be construed as bad, was still a better decision than I would normally make. On Wednesday, Kizzie had to go to the vet. Usually when one of the dogs goes to the vet, I make a date out of it. We stop for a treat and then go to a park. A treat might be that the dog gets a McDonalds hamburger. And while they're eating, maybe I want a burger, too. And fries. And a sugared drink. So instead of doing all of that, I ordered two waters and an ice cream sundae. Kizzie and I shared the sundae, so I ended up eating half a sundae rather than a whole meal. So it doesn't have to be the BEST decision—we could have skipped McD's altogether. It just has to be a better one. 

After a week of doing this, I have a number of things to report. First, I'm an over-achiever and have made more than one better decision each day. But it really only has to be one. And small ones count. Second, I find myself thinking a lot about my decisions, so I'm becoming more conscious of the decisions I do and don't make on a daily basis. Third, I'm feeling SO much better mentally. Prior to doing this, I might end a day feeling like I've done nothing to move myself forward. At which point, I would kick myself and feel even worse. Now I can go to bed knowing I made at least one better decision that day...that I took at least one step in the right direction, rather than staying put. 

There have been times in my life that I was able to say "tomorrow I start a new diet" and eventually that decision would stick. But I've been starting each Monday out like that for years and it's gotten to the point that I usually don't make it past the first few hours of Monday. There are people who can do that, but I'm not one of them. This "make one better decision" thing takes the emphasis off the diet and put it's on the decision. One decision. One  decision that doesn't have to be about diet, because I have two goals. It can be about my wellbeing. So that takes a lot of pressure off. And I find I want to do things to nurture myself more, too. 

I anticipate that making one better decision each day will turn into making new habits and finding new "better decisions" to make. Assuming I keep up with this, I imagine I'll find my way back to my groove, a place I haven't seen in a very long time. For me, because I'm lazy and lacking will due to being in long-standing rut, this is a hassle-free and easy way to move forward. I already see me making small changes to the way I do things and think about stuff. So I'm kind of excited. And just being excited is a move in the right direction. 

One of my decisions for today was to do another week of this decisions things. Yes, your decision can be THAT lame...haha. Each "better" decision you make puts more muscle in your wings so that when you finally emerge from the chrysalis, you'll fly farther and faster than ever before!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

7/13/15—Being The Me I Came Here To Be


Yesterday one of my Facebook friends asked a really thought-provoking question—"Do you think the people around you make you who you are?"

My knee-jerk answer was "no". But then I had just come back from a dinner with family members where it was clear we all shared similar senses of humor. And that wasn't just coincidence. It was something that has been passed down through generations and distributed among all the branches of the family. 

So what then came into my head was this funnel graphic I put together using my own progression as illustration. So, for others, that orange part might last longer or shorter. Some may never progress past the childhood or teen years. But, bear with me here, the funnel is just a shape. It's not a funnel. The narrower parts are meant to illustrate the amount of "shaping pressure" outside forces have on you. So where it's narrower, there's more of an impact from the outside, pressing that core tight like a diamond. Where it's wider, there's less of an outside impact, hugging you gently and leaving plenty of wiggle room for changing and growing. 

Ultimately, my response to my friend's post was that these days, I mostly make me who I am and adjust the people around me accordingly. But there is a core within me that was created by my family experiences and the influences of others. That core, however, is not set in stone. You can chip off the parts you don't like and exchange them for better behaviors. 

It all comes down to two things. The first is conscious awareness of what you do and why you do it. You can't really create change unless you know what you're changing and why it continues to cycle through your life. And the second thing is a belief and desire in your own ability to change. 

I think a lot of people are lacking conscious awareness of what and why they do. Or maybe they're aware, but feel trapped by it because it's "how I was raised" and they're not aware of their amazing power to change. Then there are some cases where a person is too lazy to change, not into change or change feels insurmountable at the present time. There are all kinds of sayings out there that support the notion that a desire to change is fruitless. "A leopard never changes its spots." "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." But all of that is BS. You can shape and mold your life into anything you want. 

Our early childhood creates a core of who we are. For me, things like the work ethic that was ingrained in me, my sense of humor and my sense of right and wrong are all things that were valuable for me to keep. But every family also has toxic or dysfunctional behaviors that   also become ingrained in us. And, if we want, we can change those things. We can change anything about us that we don't like. 

We have all known people who are stuck in grade-school behaviors or who allow dysfunctional behaviors to overpower their better qualities. I imagine we have all behaved in certain ways—ways that feel automatic to us—then felt bad about it afterward. 

 One of the things I know I picked up from my formative years was a temper. It still pops out from time to time, but far less than it used to because it's one of those things that I didn't like and worked hard on changing. So I'm a lot less temperamental these days and, while I'm still not the best at expressing my anger when I do "lose it", it's rare for me to lose it anymore because I became conscious of that moment when choice is available...there is a millisecond there where you can choose to lose it or not. Prior to becoming aware of what and why I do, I didn't know that moment existed and allowed the behavior to control me. Now it is much more within my grasp. 

I see our early years as being shaped by a force we cannot resist—or a force, perhaps, we're not aware we can resist. As children, we're putty in the hands of those around us. We all swear we're never going to be like our mothers, for example, then grow up to be just like them. But none of it is etched in stone. Because once we become conscious of our behaviors and our ability to change them, whatever "you" you may feel trapped in becomes just an excuse. Once you get past childhood, you're able to expand and do the real work you came here to do, if that's what you choose. 

As you move along your path and become more powerful than the outside forces (family, society, friends) whose influences can easily shape you, you may find your relationships changing. Change enough of those core things and you may find you no longer fit well with your family or friends. But another family will form...a family you choose from the people who reflect and embrace the you you've become. 

We are who we are because we're human. I am who I am because I'm an American. And an east coaster. And a Sadler. All of those things have undeniable impact on how I walk through life. But the me I came here to be is the me I've created. And it took a long time, but I think I've finally reached a point where I'm not going to apologize or feel bad for not being the me I'm expected to be or the me that others find me comfortable or convenient to be. I'm consciously shaping the influences I choose to have around me instead of letting the influences I have around me to determine what shape I take on. And thus, my funnel is widening. 



Sunday, July 5, 2015

7/6/15—Holding Yourself to Your Own Standards

I've had today's topic waiting to be written for over a month now. It was something that I'd heard said in two different ways over the course of a couple of days. I think both of them came from Humans of New York, actually. 

I usually like to wait for things to happen in threes. I've always thought once means nothing special, twice becomes interesting and three times is an all-out message from the universe. But lately a few things have happened just twice and I've felt like the second time was a message. So maybe I'm catching on to things faster these days. 

Anyway, the first thing was a question—"do you hold yourself to your own standards?" 

And the second thing was from a philosophy professor HONY photographed. They asked, "If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?" And he answered, "Never make an exception of yourself...People like to make exceptions of themselves. They hold other people to moral codes that they aren't willing to follow themselves. For example, people tend to think that if they tell a lie, it's because it was absolutely necessary. But if someone else tells a lie, it means they're dishonest. So never make an exception of yourself. If you're a thief, don't complain about being robbed." 

About a month ago, I wrote a blog about spiritual adulthoodIn that blog, I defined spiritual adulthood as having three core components—awareness of yourself and your own consistencies and inconsistencies, personal responsibility and the ability to fess up to your consistencies and inconsistencies, and the will to break free from the kinds of behaviors and attitudes that put distance between you and your higher self. 

Living up to your own standards and not making an exception of yourself are spiritually adult things to do. It means that when you see your own inconsistencies or hypocrisies, that you check yourself and realign your behavior. And maybe realigning means to change your course and act within your own standards and maybe it means seeing where your standards  are too strict and unrealistic for you at the present time. 

One of the hardest parts about being on a path toward your higher self, spirit self, Christ self, enlightenment...whatever you want to call it...is that you have to keep your eyes open to your own inconsistencies. If you expect flawless loyalty from your friends, you'd better be flawlessly loyal and not make an exception out of yourself. If you expect secrecy from someone, you'd better not share their secrets with anyone, no matter what you tell yourself to make it ok. And if you're someone who's not adverse to confronting others with their truths, then you have to take your medicine when others are honest with you. 

Whatever you want to call it—standards, rules, or "just the kind of person I am"—you have to be big enough to take it when it comes back to you. In fact, if you're really spiritually mature, you have to be grateful when it comes back to you. Because it's showing you a place of inconsistency you haven't been able to see yourself...it's pointing you in the direction of growth.  

I remember this whole idea of "holding yourself to your own standards" really kind of smacking me in the face when it first occurred to me many years ago. I was actually kind of a missing puzzle piece I needed at the time to move forward. And while I can't remember the exact circumstances, I know I eased up some on a few my more rigid expectations, partly because I wasn't ready to live up to them and partly because, even if I was, it was a lot to expect from other people at the time. And it never occurred to me until I thought to ask the question. 

It doesn't hurt to check in on that from time to time, either. Whereas a number of years back, the expectations I had of some friends was too high even for myself, those expectations would be fully within reason today, because as I've grown, so has the maturity of my friends. And let's not forget to look at the places the bar is set too low, too. If everyone around you is constantly disappointing you, for example, you either have the bar set too high or too low. 

Like most everything else on the spiritual path, living to your own standards can be more of a journey than a destination. I think some people manage to find balance there—more than in other hotspots along the spiritual path—but for many, there are too many layers of that onion to peel in a single lifetime. But it's worth trying, because being aware of and cleaning out that area of your consciousness is integral to mapping the right path. After all, you have to know who you are, what you're capable of and where you want to go before you can set out successfully on your journey. 



Sunday, June 28, 2015

6/29/15—Remembering Who You Are

So I have this thing where I cry when I'm watching TV. I cry at American Ninja Warrior when I hear the backstories of contestants who overcame obstacles to become an amazing, self-made elite athlete. I cry on America's Got Talent when someone gives a performance that is clearly channeled from God. I cry on Shark Tank when someone gets a good funding deal for their brilliant invention. I watch every week and cry and cry and cry.  

Introspective person that I am, I want to know WHY I cry. Is it because I'm a sap? I don't really think so. Is it because I sit on my arse watching TV while those people are out there actually doing things? Well, no. Maybe. But, no. My life may look boring from the outside, but I'm not missing out on anything that I want. So it's always vexed me. Why?

Well, I think I found the answer. Being human means forgetting who you are...forgetting you are an limitless soul, with the stuff of the higher power running through your veins. As humans, we let our bodies define us and our boundaries. We let our minds define what is possible. And we forget that we are spirits having a human experience. We forget that we are spirits, born of the god energy, at one with all that is.

Based on that, I've decided why I cry. I cry because, in those moments of achievement I see on TV, those people are connecting with their limitless spirit selves. If even just for that split moment, they've remembered who they are and its as if their body disappears and their spirit comes through. I cry, not so much because they've remembered, though, but because I recognize them. I remember who I am through them. Perhaps not consciously, but on a spirit level.

When we hop into a body with an ego and all of that, we become an individual. We don a personality. And we tell ourselves we are different from the person next to us. But in spirit form, there is only one...we are all part of the one. It's as if we pinch ourselves off from that whole when we become human.

We walk the spiritual path to find our way back to that universal form. We seek that reunion and catch longer and longer glimpses of it, but we inevitably return back to forgetting...and remembering we're here to have that human experience, with all the stresses and frustrations and separation that comes with it. The older souls may be able to experience more oneness here on earth, but they're also cursed with the wisdom of knowing that spirit...that connection...is just part of who we are when we're here. We're spirit. We're human. We're everything at once. 

So I'm thinking maybe when I see people having moments where they step into their highest selves, I remember. I recognize them as myself, from when we were the whole. I recognize them as human having a deeply spiritual experience from all the times I've managed to channel my own divinity. And I miss that iteration of me that didn't have to remember because I was always there.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

6/22/15—Faking It Until You Make It

There's a cliche you often hear tossed off by bad bosses, well-meaning encouragers and sarcastic douchebags. And it has become my #1 secret to spiritual and personal growth.

"Fake it until you make it."

That's right. That's my secret to spiritual success. And pretty much every unproductive behavior I've "healed" has fallen to the hands of "fake it until you make it." (I put "healed" in quotes, because we all suffer momentary relapses from time to time. And that's ok.)

As an example, I'll use my journey with drama. Now anyone that has ever met me knows I'm a dramatic individual. That's not what I'm talking about. What I'm talking about is either creating drama with others or engaging in the dramas others create or associating with drama junkies enough that you become a target of their drama. And let me be clear, all three—creator, participant and target—are equally addicted to drama. 

I know this because I've been all three and, from a place of somewhat recovery, I can tell you that they are all engaged in drama. And while some may claim they have no choice and they were dragged into it, blah, blah, blah, fact is they have a choice. And they choose to engage. And while others will craft holier-than-thou schemes to silence drama junkies as proof that they won't tolerate drama, they're not just engaging in the drama, they're creating and perpetuating it. In fact, anyone who claims to be a victim, imo, is engaging in drama. Those who claim their power, walk away and never look back are the ones who are not engaging. And if you're really over the drama, you won't even whisper about it in private. 

So to get from the place where you're creating/participating in/denying/fighting/being the target of drama to the place where you're not even whispering about it to your bff, you have to start faking it. Because, let's face it, it's hard to walk away from that crap, even if it doesn't involve you...and especially when it does. You either have a personal stake in it or it's like a car crash. You have to look. And as long as you keep indulging the personality traits that predispose you to drama—the need to be right, the need to be liked, the need to be included, the need to be in the know and the need to be heard and/or agreed with are biggies—you're not going to break free. 

So you have to fake it. When every fiber of your being wants to respond, you have to walk away and pretend that's not who you are anymore. And I say pretend, because clearly, that is still who you are or every fiber of your being wouldn't want to respond. So you might not feel genuine or true to yourself, because you're being true to the future you instead, while still having the same knee jerk responses of the old you. And each time you fake it, it gets easier. Until it gets real. And then your knee jerk response is to disengage and see drama for what it is now...someone else's problem—a problem that, if put on your radar, you will most assuredly end up regretting. 

So now I'm in a place where it's rare to get involved, in any active way, in group drama. Even if I'm the target of it. But, if I am indeed the target of it, I'll still whine about it in whispered conversations from time to time. And I'll also cop to offering opinions on controversial topics in places like Facebook (which is, by the way, getting involved in drama if you make more than one comment, imo.) But one of the "fake it until you make it" tricks I've learned there is to make my comment, then turn off notifications so you never know if someone agrees or not...so you don't continue the debate. I continued a debate last night, in fact. I wanted to be right. And when I recognized that, I turned off notifications. If your intention is have your opinion represented, then it shouldn't matter whether or not people agree. If you argue it, then you want to be right. 

A couple more things about letting go of drama—the further you remove yourself from the junkies, the more you see how little things, like telling others about the drama, is also drama. They are minor infractions, compared to the bigger picture, but each time you peel off a layer of an unwanted or worn out behavior, you encounter another layer hiding beneath that. 

Another thing is that, as you begin to remove layers of drama, you begin to analyze the things that continue to trigger you. For me, it's when someone attacks my integrity or lies about me. That's a trigger. Another trigger is wanting to be right. So in the example of the controversial Facebook discussion, turning off notifications helps me fake like I don't care if others think I'm right, until the day comes that I truly don't care. Once you see the triggers, you're likely to try to heal those things in some way, too. So trying to heal an attachment to drama actually becomes an impetus for healing other things in your life. 

But this isn't just about drama. The "fake it until you make it" thing works on all sorts of behaviors you want to heal—gossip, pettiness and lack of compassion, to name a few. And it works on behaviors you want to adopt—kindness, compassion and understanding. And it works really well on overcoming fears you may have. "Fake it until you make it" is like the ultimate spiritual multitool. 

You don't get out from underneath the toxic hold a behavior has on you the second you decide to change. Every thought and every action you make has a chemical signature that some part of you recognizes and relies upon. You may keep recreating a particular  signature by habit or you may even become emotionally addicted to it. Healing an unhealthy behavior means plowing new chemical signatures that register as more desirable than the old. And that is a conscious process that happens over time, not a split-second event. 

It's also not a success-only journey. You're going to get sucked back in. And when you're "healed", you'll find new layers that need healing. And certain things will continue to trigger you. But if you keep faking it long enough, you'll turn around one day and see that you no longer want to be part of whatever behavior it was you wanted to change. And the desire to stay the heck away is very real. You will have faked your way to genuine change!