I am pondering a lot lately on what is the best way to get rid of a bad habit or an addiction. Do you go from inside out or outside in?

First let me clarify what I mean. Inside out means that you feel that you need to fix the problem from inside of yourself towards the outside. This is the why! It means finding out what your values or beliefs are, why you are behaving a certain way, where did it originate and why are those little voices (your thoughts) saying what they are saying. If you have reached the conclusion that you need to work inside out, it is because the normal planning and discipline of accomplishing your goal is failing. This is when, for years, you have been in a yo-yo pattern of self-sabotage.

Outside in means you will use your body to fix the problem.

Let’s do a test: Stand up and hunch over, looking at the ground, with an angry or sad face and barely breathing. Start walking that way while dragging your feet. How does it feel? It feels like we’ve already lost. It feels like we don’t have faith, we don’t believe in ourselves or in life. It feels like we have given up and we feel unhappy.

Now do it again but put your shoulders back, chin up, put a big smile on that face and breathe deeply. When you start walking, do it with a purpose. How does it feel now?  Is it different then before? I am sure it is. We feel more confident, happier, more purposeful and we feel like we can achieve anything. Even if you don’t feel super confident yet, walking and having this body language creates an as-if moment that makes you feel as if you already are feeling confident and happy.

So let me ask again, do you use your body to solve your problems and feel better (outside in) or do you go deeper to solve unconscious (or conscious) issues first (inside out). The answer is both. You need both to succeed.

Let’s say you abuse food, alcohol or cigarettes and it is impeding your life and your successes. Every January 1st, you have your New Year’s resolution and you say this is the year that I get back in shape. For a couple of weeks, you are all worked up and focused. Then the novelty starts dying down and by the end of the month, you have forgotten the whole thing. You feel that you have let yourself down and the ones you care about. The reasons why you are doing this bad habit outweigh the reasons why you want to stop it. Somehow, somewhere it feels better to keep doing it then to stop it. This is the inside out part.

Lets look at different actions for each aspect:

Outside in:

  • This is the logical aspect;
  • We make plans, we organize in order to succeed;
  • We practice our facial expressions & our body language;
  • We dress for success;
  • We walk the talk;
  • We act as-if we have already succeeded;
  • Get an expert in the field (i.e. trainer for getting back into shape);
  • You visualize your success.

Inside out:

  • This is the unknown and the surprising aspect;
  • We look at the deeper reasons why;
  • Review and change your beliefs and values;
  • Review past events;
  • Get a therapist or life coach as needed;
  • Change your triggers and patterns based on what you have discovered.
  • Re-write your story, or better yet, write your story. Chose to no longer be someone else’s story.

Because you were a drunk, a smoker or a binger yesterday does not mean you have to be one today or for the rest of your life.

I find that working with both aspects (inside out and outside in) gives you all the chances in the world to succeed. Also, don’t hesitate to get professional help. Why go about it alone when you can do it so much better and faster with the right support.


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