Thursday, February 19, 2009

Habits

I was having a chat with my Littlest One the other night about habits and why they're so hard to break. I've got to be honest...I am probably THE worst person to talk to about changing habits - I am appallingly bad at changing the way I think about things, even if it would be much better for me to do so. This personality trait leads to the infuriation of my friends (at best) and large amounts of hurt for me (at worst) but it is, even so, a habit in and of itself I suppose.

Its easy to talk about things with my Littlest One because she really is like the other half of my brain to the extent that her brain can unscramble what my brain is trying to say (and quite often say it back to me in a way that actually makes sense) so when she was met with the comment "it might be a bit broken but at least it definitely still functions so why try and fix it" she knew what I was trying to say - often we don't change our habits because we don't want to *quite* enough. It doesn't hurt *quite* enough to force us through the process of change...it won't benefit us *quite* enough to warrant the effort...its not *quite* what we really want to do, even if its right. And we all do it. And we all suffer. And most of us never learn. And even if we do learn, we never learn *quite* enough and, oh. We're back there again.

Sometimes, however, there is incentive enough to overcome that barrier, and in my experience, its sadly only either extreme pain to ourselves or to those we care about that can make the change. Our worst enemies when it comes to changing our thoughts and habits are our own brains, and it takes a LOT to change how they're wired. For example, when I had Glandular Fever (mono for all you Yanks) I got depression and a wierdy death complex that prevented me from ever being alone (including at night) or I started having panic attacks. This, at the age of 17, was significantly NOT. COOL. I had school counselling. I had church counselling. I had peer counselling (of a VERY rough and ready variety) but nothing worked until one day out of desperation, I chose to rewrite my brain. I wore, for 3 or 4 months, a hair elastic round my wrist - one of the ones with the little metal bit on it - and pinged it against myself every time I started to panic. Believe me, it HURTS (if you don't believe me, go try it. Not fun) and eventually it worked. My brain started to associate its irrational thoughts about death with that pain, and eventually it changed the way it thought. The pain was enough to overcome the habit.

A more recent (and slightly happier) example is The Drummer quitting smoking (for which I am SO SO proud of him for doing) He gave up, full on cold-turkey on New Years Day and for 15 days didn't touch a cigarette. A minor indescretion occurred the night before we got together that ended up in a few cigarettes being smoked. Bean will testify that I lost the plot. Tears were very nearly shed. I was so disappointed for him because he'd done so well BUT the knowledge of how upset it made me means he hasn't smoked since (possibly also the COMPLETE certainity he has of not gettting kisses if he tastes like an ash-tray) Jokes aside, he knows how much it upsets me, and that's helped him overcome the habit. To the extent where, when I said if he ended up smoking with the boys in Canada, that would be ok as long as he didn't come back and not be able to stop again, he said he still wouldn't (yes, he's amazing. I know) (and all mine)

Those were genuinely the only examples that came to mind for reasons for having changed habits which is a bit sad. Plenty more examples came for people who want to change because they're hurting other people - why why WHY does it come to this before we find the incentive for change??

I can answer my own question there - because its so darn hard. And it is. It really really is, even when it comes to the good stuff - I know people who have struggled so so much with the concept of God loving them enough to forgive them anything they've repented of...I know people who struggle to accept the love of their other half, even when everyone else around them can see it a mile off. I'm totally guilty of that one myself - its a constant surprise that The Drummer misses me/cares about me/wants to be with me as I do him, and I totally put that down to damage caused by previous habits I could never quite change - that's my incentive to change how I think about myself: the damage caused to my heart and my thoughts by my old habits could seriously jeopardise the present (and that would really REALLY suck, because I kinda like this one!)

You've got to look around and see who else is hurting too. Hurting FOR you, because you don't hurt enough for yourself. And you have to also believe you're worth the change, because those people believe it of you, but that's not quite enough. The change, ultimately, comes from you. Because you ARE quite enough. You have quite enough in you to do it.

And even if you don't always believe in yourself, He does. Always has done, and always will.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness"
2 Corinthians 12v9

Love, etc.
xx

4 comments:

r.a.h said...

i LOVE you xxx

Anonymous said...

what does lululand mean?

Blue Eyes said...

I actually have tears in my eyes.
What a wonderful post lovely :)
Maybe I should change a few things?
xx

Matt @ The Church of No People said...

That's a great post. I have so many things I would like to change, but until they hurt others, I can always rationalize it! I've heard for most regular habits, it takes about 1 month of solid rehab to break or form a new habit.