Giving up Cheetos is Personal Growth: B.O.A.R.                                                      

Be strong like a boar. Maintain your composure during stress and break habits.

It’s hard to break a habit! When we feel upset or worried, we often reach for the cheese puffs, chocolate or wine to manage our pain and discomfort. But those are band aids giving us only temporary relief. We’ve merely stuffed our feelings down, coating tough emotions with yummy flavors. We may feel better for a few hours, but the stressful situation or person is still there. Plus, pandemic angst is piling weight onto any burden we already face. And multiple demands from our families or jobs add to our overwhelm. We may vow to ourselves to stop eating or drinking impulsively, but willpower and commitment are not enough to alter a compulsive behavior. Why not? Because the roots of the emotional weeds are still there.

We need tools and practices for conscious bravery to stop eating Cheetos, to break the habit of popping M&M’s late afternoon, or to cut back from drinking 3 glasses of wine at night. To put a halt on enabling a family member. To get to bed at a decent hour. Or to curtail flirting & having sex for the temporary hit of desirability. Why? Because the fire that fans our compulsions and habits is difficulty handling our emotions. Who likes to feel anxious, sad, or furious? Not many of us. So, we prefer to eat, drink, game, work-out or sex our emotions away at times. The pleasures of the senses lure us away from our discomfort. But, after the ecstasy there’s still the toilet to clean. The stress returns, and on top of it, we feel unwell, or guilty the next morning after our indulgence. So why continue to put ourselves through a cycle of impulsivity, diversion, then guilt, when there is a way out?

Gentle practices such as meditation and hiking are great for building mindful health and wellness into our lives. Vigorous yoga, sports, and any creative or spiritual outlet provide relief too, which help us maintain a more positive approach. But years ago, I found that my clients and I needed some technique we could pull from our bravery tool bag to use any time, any place to accept and allow our frazzled feelings, then calm down and reset. I created the B.O.A.R technique, which truly works when stress arrives and the inclination to reach for a habit kicks in.

The B.O.A.R Technique

B:  Breathe. Take at least 3 conscious breaths.  Breathe in deeply, with mindful awareness, feeling your breath in your nostrils, filling your lungs.  Exhale fully and completely. Slow down. Let your breath be a gift of loving attention you give to yourself. Notice if your breath is irregular, and how it feels to breathe mindfully.

O:  Observe. Using your third eye, pay attention to your present experience, without judging yourself. Simply notice what’s going on in 5 areas:  your emotions, your body, your mind, your inner Essence, and your environment.  Then, label each area with one word…

  • What are you feeling, in your heart? If you can’t identify it, you won’t be able to know what’s at the root of your habitual behavior. If you’re unsure, guess what you are feeling. You may be experiencing several emotions at once, and that’s okay.
  • What’s going on in your body, somatically? Tightness in your chest? A lump in your throat? Butterflies in your stomach? Simply observe your experience, without questioning it, trying to change or control it.
  • What is happening in your mind? Are your thoughts racing? Do you seem stuck, or notice a fog or dullness? Are you obsessing about something?
  • What do you notice deep within, in your Essence? The part of you that is your deepest inner being?  Do you feel connected to something greater, to Source? Do you seem estranged from or disillusioned with God? Are you angry at the Universe, for present circumstances in which you or others are suffering?  Notice it, and where you are in this moment.
  • What’s happening in the environment around you? Pay attention to the energy of the space you’re in. 

A- Allow.  Simply allow what is occurring in yourself right now, without any shoulds or shouldn’ts.  Don’t add a “story” about what you fear might happen. Mindfully accept what Is; don’t try to change it yet. Breathe again. With kindness and acceptance, find some ease and grace for any discomfort.

R–  Reset.  Reset into this new moment. It’s a brand new Now. The other moment passed and you’re here, in the freshness of the present. The Now is where we actually live, not in the past, and not in the future. Try resetting, while you’re reading this. This is the step where you can take action. Add an additional “re” word or words to your next step. For poise and strength amidst any challenge, ask yourself, what do you need right now? Do you want to realign? To respond, without reacting?  Tune in to yourself and choose what will help you most.

Reset, then:

We don’t have to habitually lose our cool then feel guilty. We can stop giving in to habits that we regret later. Be strong and brave, like a boar! When triggered by circumstances, other people, and long-time temptations, preserve your steadiness with the B.O.A.R. technique.

Practice B.O.A.R. several times a day, especially during mildly stressful situations, so you’re in the habit of relying upon it for the biggest challenges. Use B.O.A.R. to tune into your Essence, keeping some serenity even when upset.  Know your triggers, and you won’t get hooked by others so easily. You are not a helpless victim of what happens around you, or to you.  

Rediscover your graceful power within, allowing for swift awareness. You’ll break habits and find relief by utilizing this tool often. Prevent and manage distress for a healthier, less reactive life. B.O.A.R. is a foundational tool for conscious bravery you can rely on and use quickly, any time, any place.