A stranger at the gas station
Yesterday my husband called to tell me about a situation he observed while he stopped his car at a gas station to check his phone. At the same time, another vehicle parked next to him.
The driver caught his attention. He noticed a man carefully putting on a mask and gloves. Then the man got out of the car and went inside the convenience store at the gas station. He did take long and was quickly back in his vehicle within a few minutes. My husband then observed that he carefully took his gloves off and mask, got some hand sanitizer, and rubbed it in his hands and face. After doing all the sanitation, he lowered his window, light up a cigarette, and started smoking.
I must admit that I was shocked by this story. Then I began to try to speculate what is going through this men’s mind to try to make sense of his behavior.
I came up with some justifications that I think could show some light about this conflictive behavior, in my opinion. If my theories were right or not, I will never know, but the one I feel more confident is that this man is dealing with an internal conflict.
We all deal with internal conflicts. These are conflicts between our mind and the heart. We all have plenty of situations that we had to cope with, which are an emotional paradox. I’m sure that you can remember saying to yourself: Do I listen to my inner voice? Or Do I listen to my heart?
Internal conflict spiral
Our internal conflicts can turn into stress and fear that spiral against our wellbeing, like the situation that I described earlier about the gas station driver. The battle with the inner critic can lead to self-destructive behavior.
I have seen and worked with many people that deal with internal conflicts related to unhealthy habits. They know that they are choosing harmful behaviors and are fearful and ashamed, but they still struggle. This struggle could be compulsive eating, shopping, drinking, gambling, smoking, overuse of medication, addictions, and self-harm.
But sometimes, the inner struggle could be about toxic self- criticism. This type of judgment happens when people frequently have gloomy and pessimistic predictions about themselves and their life. This is when people always expect that they are going to mess things up. Or when something positive happens, and they quickly sabotage the experience.
One common trait of struggling with inner conflict is when we are afraid of confronting our wounds. These unhealthy habits that are harming the body and the mind have a root cause. Not wanting to deal with the root will not allow people to overcome their addictions and unhealthy ways.
One way to begin your journey into changing your habits is to start getting used to discomfort. A proven psychological strategy that can help people change habits is to go through the experience of observing their emotions unravel.
Saying yes to Self-love
Love is the most potent antidote to any emotional wound, pain, or suffering that we could be carrying. A lack of self-love is behind many unhealthy habits, whether toxic self-criticism, compulsive eating or drinking.
Love moves us toward compassion, openness, and unconditional acceptance. If you feel like self-love is too much of a challenge for you, begin with kindness. Being kind is a more accessible and sustainable way to be more loving.
If you feel that you want to change a habit that is becoming an obstacle for your mental and physical wellbeing, pay attention to the inner voice. When you think that the internal conflict shows up, take a pause. Do not push away your discomfort. Notice how it feels. Use kind words and say to yourself: I am kind, all is well. Keep repeating these phrases until you feel that your mind and heart are calm and well.
“As I began to love myself, I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. As I began to love myself, I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first, I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF.”
Which one of your inner conflict could benefit from some self-love and kindness?