The power of habits
Posted on 10th May 2023 at 07:17
We all have our own little habits, some endearing, some less so (!) most of which we’re completely oblivious to. Well, that’s until someone is kind enough to point them out to us… Have you ever wondered why this is? And, more importantly, why we’re so oblivious of them?
As so often is the case, the answer is very simple AND very obvious, once pointed out. Habits are automatic and happen without requiring any conscious thought. They allow us to do more things each day, more easily, hence them flying under our radar until someone draws our attention to them. Then, as so often is the case, we can’t understand how we hadn’t noticed them before…
We’re sure you can list some of the habits of those you’re closest to. Positive and less so. Perhaps even some of your own (!). And we’ll leave it there before we end up in some very dangerous waters…
If you’ve ever wondered how something becomes a habit, there’s another easy answer. Repetition. After all, the more we practice something, the easier it becomes. Put another way, practice is a master skill.
And, here’s the thing that most people seem to overlook. The more we practice, the more automatic something becomes, gradually vanishing out of our consciousness mind and into our subconscious. Then, “bingo”, it becomes automatic. Another habit has been born. Or, more accurately, ingrained…
Unfortunately, not only is very little conscious thought involved in this process, the same is also true at the outset. In other words, we never consciously decided whether this was something we wanted to become a habit. Whether it really helped us in some way. More often, it happened without us realising it, whether we were doing it ourselves or simply following what people around us were doing… It’s little wonder they so often end up causing us more problems than anything else.
While most habits come under the “minor” heading, it’s easy for them to multiply, leading to yet more habits. Gradually restricting how we live our lives, what we do and how we do it. Sometimes showing a much darker side leading to obsessive or compulsive behaviour. Perhaps even nudging us down a very slippery slope towards addiction.
So, where are we going with this?
Well, it’s just a gentle reminder to start noticing all the things you do every day without conscious thought. On autopilot.
Using it as an opportunity to get to know yourself a little better, from a “goodness that’s interesting” point of view, rather than as an opportunity to beat yourself up for doing whatever it is.
Or, if you’re feeling brave, asking your nearest and dearest to point them out as tactfully as they can (!). And, “no” this isn’t to provide ammunition for “one of those” domestic conversations. Moving swiftly on…
Often, simply starting to notice all those little habits littering your day, is a complete revelation. “Do I really do that?” And that’s all you need to do to make a conscious choice over whether to continue with them.
Sometimes, a little denial kicks in, fueled by the Little Monster in your Head, “No, I really don’t do that”. After all, the one thing he craves more than anything else is certainty, and habits – a.k.a. doing the same thing over and over again – make it very easy to predict what’s likely to happen. Unfortunately, this may not be what you’d like to happen… So, you find yourself going on the defensive AND carry on doing whatever it is.
While it may sound like a golden opportunity is lost, the good news is that it’s just been deferred to another day. Why? For the simple reason that you’re guaranteed to be much more aware of that particular habit when it rears its head in the future. So, more likely to take a look at it next time it comes up. Or, perhaps, the time after that…
Habits, consciously chosen, can be your friend making life much easier and simpler all round. So why not choose those that help you and say a fond “farewell” to those that don’t?
As always, the choice is yours.
Picture by unknown author
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