Recently I tweeted about how to overcome vices:
“To break free you first must know you are trapped. Become aware of your vices and you have found the lock. Master these vices and you have found the key. Unlock your true potential.”
My friend Dylan Madden replied stating he wanted to see an article on this. Upon reading his reply I gratefully obliged and so – here we are.
This was also the first instance of someone requesting me to write about something specifically. Even more reason to flesh out my thoughts on the topic.
I also remembered I have wrote about vices before. This was over on Titus Hauer’s site Axtschmiede.
Without further ado, let us begin…
What binds us is what holds us down. What holds us down also prevents us from moving forward.
Picture yourself as 300lbs and obese. Now imagine you had to run five miles.
Compared to your original, lighter-self you would find this much more difficult. If you are 200lbs it would be akin to carrying a 100 pounds of bricks on your back.
With each step, those bricks bear down on your frame. The sheer stress produced alone is enough to damage you with time.
You will be forced to work that much harder for the same result. That is, if it’s even possible.
This obese man is both you and I when our vices get a hold of us. We are sick from feeding our body what it detests.
We are trapped while also being culprits in the crime. As it turns out, the first step in escaping is to realize we are trapped.
To Give Life
To ignore something, do not speak of it, right? While our backs are turned, we hope what we are running from runs away from us.
In reality, when we refuse to attend to what attends to us, it grows in strength while we shrivel.
Throughout the Harry Potter saga Voldemort is referred to as “He who shall not be named”. It is only when Harry identifies him by his true name can he be destroyed.
Like Dumbledore says to Harry in the Philosopher’s Stone:
“Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.”
Facing ones fears head on allows them to be seen for what they really are.
Carrying around a weight for so long soon leads to it feeling normal. With time the memory of life beforehand will fade.
#1 State your vices aloud . Write them down.
If you are afraid of what may come out – don’t be. This is when it’s needed more than ever. First they must be brought to life so they can be put to bed.
Every vice has a purpose whether we know it or not. We may drink to dull the pain of living or so we forget our responsibilities momentarily.
Chronic video game use may be more entertaining than our real life. Pornography may be abused if we have anxiety talking to the opposite sex.
The list goes on and on.
Instead of curing the problem quite often vices mask it.
They are like sticking a band-aid over something much more malevolent.
A compulsive liar may lie because they have trust issues. In this way they hope to remain immune from betrayal.
In all actuality, they are ensuring they never gain true friendship again.
For the present moment vices may feel as if they are your friend. In reality they are your foe.
What started off as an “innocent” crutch can metastasize into other aspects of your life. An alcohol addiction could lead to unemployment which could lead to ones mental health spiralling out of control.
The purpose of ones vices may be to fill a void of purposelessness. When a vacuum is created, whatever is most readily accessible tends to fill it.
That is why quick fixes are found more often than not. They offer a cheap alternative to the authentic experience.
Need to improve your social skills? Don’t worry – just drink alcohol.
Does your life lack excitement and fulfilment? Relax bro – have some amphetamines.
These stimulate the reward pathway in our brains (mesolimbic dopamine system). Users can abuse it instead of actively seeking accomplishments in their own life.
I hope it is becoming clear this is not the right path to follow.
#2 State the purpose of your vices aloud. Write them down.
Don’t pretend your vices have no purpose.The purpose may not be a good one but there is a reason they came into your life.
Past behaviour has made you susceptible to them. It was not by mere chance you became entangled in their web.
It will not be by mere chance that you escape their web either. To do so will require constant persistence and self-discipline.
Once identified by name and with their purpose stated, mastery of ones vices can begin. By doing so truthfully, you have already begun the journey.
Most never identify and come to terms with their vices. In this way they have become enslaved to them.
They are at the mercy of their shallowest impulses. Tragically, their true potential is never realized.
What could have been is sacrificed at the altar of immediate gratification.
Finally taking control of your vices isn’t a simple matter. It will be a constant battle.
Make no mistake about it though – it is one you are fully capable of. Mastery of the self begins with mastering ones vices.
Mastery does not equate to absence. As I said earlier – no one is without their vices.
The difference is some have control whereas others do not. To do so you must subdue yours until they appear only as faint whispers.
Many psychoanalyst’s believe we are not one whole entity. They theorize we are the embodiment of multiple different sub-personalities.
Some of these may be more prone to indulging in weaknesses than others. This side of us is never going away for good.
Instead, we should work with this part of us and not against it. When this side raises it’s head – you must calm it.
#3 Listen to it, understand it but ultimately decline it.
Your total entity should have an overarching aim.
If you have identified an act as a vice it can not be conducive towards said aim.
It would not be a vice otherwise.
Becoming aware of ones vices should be encouraged. Allowing them to get the upper hand should not be.
If you want to know how to overcome vices – get used to telling yourself NO.
Unlocking Your True Potential
Simply ignoring ones impulses isn’t enough. You cannot stare at a wall shouting “no, no, no” forever.
You risk succumbing when your energy is not channelled towards something greater. Earlier we talked about how vices can fill a void of purposelessness.
Now we are going to fill our lives with purpose. This is the antidote to vices.
When you have a reason to avoid your vices it becomes much easier. Let’s say you want to get in the best shape of your life.
This is a noble pursuit. If so, staying up to 2am playing video games and eating cheetos would not be conducive towards this.
You would lack energy through inadequate sleep and nutrition for the gym. If you are serious about getting in shape you will see this vice must bite the bullet.
#4 Fill your life with purpose as a bolster against vice
Picture life if you allowed each of your vices to run rampant for a year unhinged.
Some of you may end up alone or in jail. Others may find themselves in hospital or even six feet under.
Either way it wouldn’t look pretty I’m sure.
Now imagine a future where you had absolute control. You finally took charge and stopped giving in.
Maybe you could get a raise or put the extra time into starting a side business. Maybe you meet the girl of your dreams or finally get in shape.
Who knows what could happen.
One thing is certain – the outcome would be vastly superior had you let your vices get a hold of you.
So much so that you would look like a completely different person leading a drastically different life.
True freedom can only be attained when nothing holds you back.
It is time to remove the bricks, the fat, the shackles and the chains.
Once you successfully do so, you will have the power to live the life you want.
This isn’t anti-fun propaganda.
An occasional drink with friends can still be enjoyed without it becoming a vice.
Deep down you know when you have deserved something.
When you haven’t but do it regardless, you are teetering towards vice-land.
Move forward cautiously and enjoy true freedom free from vices.
When you feel temptation calling – revert back to the steps laid out here.
Thanks for reading,