We can free ourselves from any unwanted behavior by understanding the thoughts and actions that lead to it. Then to accomplish the change we want, we can create the thoughts that will lead to those new actions. If what we are thinking leads to an action we have decided not to take, we need to think another thought.
When I was first giving up cheese and went shopping, I’d fight with myself: I’d think, Well, I haven’t had cheese for a while, just having some this once won’t hurt. I’d put some cheese in my shopping cart, then as I continued shopping I’d look at that cheese and think about it: I thought about the cows continually kept pregnant to produce milk, and I thought about the cancer-producing casein in cheese. I thought about how I would fail in my resolution not to eat dairy products for reasons of health and personal ethics, and I’d put the cheese back and continue shopping. There were times when I put that cheese in my cart and took it out two or three times during a single shopping trip. I never bought the cheese, but it was a battle.
That experience is a perfect example of how we can think thoughts that produce the actions and behaviors we want, and conversely, how our thoughts can take us to actions we don’t want. Now I never even consider buying cheese, and I’m glad I never bought it even when I wanted to, because doing that would have made me feel like I was cheating on myself.