Science and Sensibility

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Harness Your Imagination to Break Bad Habits

Use a magical myth to map positive changes

Most of our self-defeating habits are changeable. They are merely behaviors that we decide not to control. By acting to break these habits, you’ve chosen positive change over continuing the same old negative habit.

Often you’ll come to a crossroad where you can chose to combat and resist a negative habit or go with the usual flow and unfortunate results. If you want to try a different way, join me in an experiment. I’ll describe a myth of magic crystals. See if you can use it to make a positive difference in imagining and then starting on a productive path.  If not, try amother  way.

The Myth of the Magical Crystals

Early one spring morning, as the rays of the sun streamed across the Argon Mountains, Carol arrived at the cave of the Oracle, a mysterious wolf-human with the power to foresee the future.

Carol cautiously approached the cave and knocked on the massive oak door. Slowly it opened. Once she was inside, the door closed behind her.

Carol found herself in a world illuminated by the sparkling light of pine torches. The glow from the flames sent shadows dancing everywhere.

She wondered where the Oracle was. Before she could raise her voice to speak, the prophet appeared before her.

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 "What do you wish to know?" the Oracle asked softly.

Carol knew this strong wolf-beast could devour her in a moment. Yet the Oracle sounded compassionate and gentle.

Carol told the Oracle that she was a good mother who worked hard so her family would never know hunger. She supported her husband's wishes and helped her family and friends.

She believed her life had passed her by. Now in her middle years, she wanted her just reward. She wanted to relive her life. With that she said, "I want my youth returned. I want my body transformed back into the svelte body of a young woman. I will pay a bag of gold if you make my body as firm and my skin as soft as it was when I was eighteen. Please, I ask only for what is fair."

The Oracle disappeared, and then returned with two glimmering crystal globes. Suddenly the crystal in the beast's right paw began to shimmer with eerie red and blue light. Carol saw an unearthly hologram of herself, an image of how she might look in ten years —older, downtrodden, out-of-shape. Then the other crystal flamed into yellow light. Carol saw herself as older, but thinner, firmer, and attractive, and at peace with herself.

Amazed at the power of the crystal globes, she could hardly contain herself. "Yes!" Carol said in a tone of pure excitement. "The one in your left paw. That is how I want to be! But I want it to be an image of me as an 18-year-old."

The Oracle  said, "I cannot turn back time. You must take the future for what it is. Go back to your world and remember that past deeds are but food for memories."

Stunned by the experience, Carol left the cave with two thoughts. "Others cannot transform me by magic; I am the only one who can change me. I cannot go back to the past, but I can shape my physical form and create an inner world where I am at peace with myself."

The Oracle bestowed a valuable gift by showing Carol that she had choices. However, the unpleasant part of choice is that we often have to give something up to gain something else.

Framing Positive Changes

As an exercise, imagine a bad habit you like to change. Visualize it in a magical crystal where its future unfolds. For example, if you have a drinking problem, picture yourself continuing to consume alcohol. While plagued with this habit, imagine how you will change over the years. Now, look into the second crystal.  Imagine yourself sober. If you choose the path of sobriety, the first part of the road will be rough. Yet later this is a lot easier path to follow.

If you procrastinate, imagine putting procrastination in one crystal ball. Imagine the future with procrastination on your back. Imagine holding the second crystal of accomplishments. Over the long run, is this an easier path to follow?

If you talk yourself into procrastinating and want to change course, tap into my free multimedia video presentation on defeating procrastination thinking: Procrastination Thinking. Use The Procrastination Workbook  to beef up your positive change efforts.

 

© Dr. Bill Knaus

 

Dr. Bill Knaus, Ed.D., is the author of more than 20 books; one, "Overcoming Procrastination", was co-authored with Albert Ellis.

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