Habits and Patterns Oh My!
Habits and patterns sometimes need changing. Becoming something – anything, means that changes are happening. When the changes are in one’s habits it can get pretty uncomfortable. Sliding back into old ways just feels easier. The same is true for looking through old lenses. While the vision is more familiar, more recognizable, it may be quite distorted. The old view may not truly represent reality. In addition, stories that we have come to tell ourselves, our narratives that we hold onto need to be examined for inaccuracies and downright untruths. All of this has been true for me lately. Practicing new things can be wearing and even when the old ways are clearly unproductive, even to the point of being destructive, they are at times just easier and can be oddly comforting because it is simply known.
A habit I had, one I was forever reinforcing, was looking outside myself for comfort or companionship, for reassurance and validation. When I start to experience self-doubt I begin a search for outside input. My newer practice has been to simply sit with my thoughts and allow myself to warm to the situation or experience. I know well enough that when I “poll” people as Brene Brown termed it, I am merely looking for a consensus of thought. The idea of going forward with an action, regardless of backup and approval, is uncomfortable for me but the more I trust my own instincts and experiences the more relaxed and confident I become in standing firm when I do decide.
Likewise, I know that I don’t need approval for my thoughts. Andy Puddicomb’s Headspace has helped me to understand that thoughts are not defining of who I am but merely transient interceptions of my mind. Because an idea occurs to me does not make it inherently mine and I can let things pass through without owning or attaching to it. In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert’s book for those who aspire to create, she talks with beautiful clarity about ideas and thoughts and how they are like creatures seeking companionship. Not every “creature” that enters my head will fit for me and I do not have to entertain that creature and give it more than a passing nod.
My biggest struggles are usually at night. The habits and practices of old usually sneak up on me then as I try to relax and sleep. It is at night that I am most alone and must wrestle with these ingrained patterns. When I am tired and have no one to “poll” I doubt my new abilities and efforts. I allow the tried methods to muscle their way in and attempt to regain control. It is at these times that I must sit with those thoughts and take no action. It is then that I must practice new ways of self-reliance.
New habits for me are replacing old ones. Thought patterns are difficult to change but I believe in what I am doing and am dedicated to practicing every single day. What new habit will you adapt to replace something that is no longer, or has never worked for you?