Habits. We all have them. Habits of thinking, eating, moving, feeling and of being in relationship. Like a well worn path they offer us familiar comfort and a sense of security in the world. They give us something to count on, to lean into, serving as an oasis of stability in an ever-changing world. Simultaneously, they are exactly what limits us. Exactly what keeps us from our goals, dreams and desires for other ways of being. Over time, we can even make life-depleting habits the ones we turn to out of routine, security and a lack of skill or awareness. And even though they might be keeping us from our heart’s desire, they are indeed the devil we know and prefer. In the words of Clarissa Pinkola-Estes, we “normalize the abnormal,” making the wrong things the foundation of our lives.
One of the most energizing things we can do around ingrained habits is to look at what it costs us to do what we do. For indeed, what we do moment by moment and day by day is in fact what creates the sum total of our lives. Imagine if you could add up all of the habits you keep and the equation would show you a visual depicting the life that you have chosen. What would your image be? Knowingly or not this is exactly what we do, every day. Our habits become so second-nature, so unconscious, that we do not even challenge their presence in our lives. Like a hamster on a wheel, we fill and create our lives by playing them out over and over again. Day after day. And, in the end, we wind up going nowhere.
Try this. Identify something you feel is a habit that no longer serves you. Try and take an attitude of non-judgment. When we judge we shut down the possibility of learning and set up a conflict within ourselves further entrenching the very thing we are trying to walk away from. So, after you identify what it is, work to disarm. Then, begin to learn about this habit of yours. How has it served you? You do it regularly, it must be there for some reason. What might that reason be? Spend time genuinely thanking it for the role it has played in your life. Let it know that while grateful, you are ready to move on. Lastly, notice when the habit arises, and before you engage, pause. If only for a second. Contained in the pause is the seed for a new habit. One that quite likely is more aligned with the truth of who you are and the life you are yearning to live.
“People do not decide their futures, They decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.” ~F.M. Alexander