I’ve had 65 years now to identify my bad habits…
You don’t realize as a child which habits are “bad” for you – there’s not much self-reflection. I know I sucked my thumb until first grade, much to my mother’s embarrassment. She would paint my thumb with some bitter tasting liquid to discourage me from putting it in my mouth. Eventually it broke the habit, but not because I understood that it was bad for me.
In my teens, my cousin was responsible for pointing out to me one of my habits at the time. She had the most beautiful, manicured fingernails that I always envied. She made snarky remarks about my “stubby” fingernails. Hurtful comments – but nevertheless, it made me stop biting my nails. The day they had grown out and I painted them, proudly showing her, she snidely remarked “Ohhhh, Miss Fashion Fingers.” I proceeded to pinch her with them. Ahhhh…kids.
Habits. We are such creatures of habit. Have you ever noticed, if you’ve attended church over time how people navigate to the same pew/bench every Sunday? Or how about lunch programs at a senior center? I’ve seen arguments break out over “you’re sitting in MY seat” when there really is no assigned seating whatsoever We like our routines, our habits of sitting in the same spot. Always.
I smoked cigarettes for a while when I was younger. I wasn’t a heavy smoker, only socially. That wasn’t so difficult to identify – I always knew they were bad for me.
People don’t like change. And once your bad habits are identified, and you feel the need to stop, change has to happen.
Some bad habits can easily get out of control. I think we all know what they are, and how we use them to numb out, or give us false courage, or just “relax.”
Some habits are bad for the body, such as not getting enough sleep, overeating, poor posture and excessive screen time. But we create habits that are a detriment to the soul, as well: not dealing with stress, laziness, a critical nature (judgement) and being perpetually late.
Obviously, the first step to identifying a bad habit is awareness. Perhaps someone points your habit out to you, and you are unaware that you have this issue. Ask yourself some questions: What are my triggers? Who do I associate with that encourages this bad habit? What are the consequences for me or others if I don’t stop?
This process of self-examination aligns awareness of why this behavior occurs with the real consequences and then makes it easier to focus on what to do about it. Ultimately, we want to remove the bad habit and replace it with a good one.
So, at my age now, I feel I have identified a solid portion of my bad habits, and turned them into good. I no longer suck my thumb, bite my nails, or smoke. Of course, I’ve identified others that took their place, such as thinking I need to have an opinion about things, or rolling through stop signs (if no one is coming), until there’s an officer hiding in the bushes.
I’m working on a few others right now, one being a negative attitude toward male authority. I’m just sayin’. Hey! It comes from somewhere!
Once you’ve identified the bad habit, ask yourself the following questions:
Does this behavior help me become the type of person I wish to be?
Do they cast a vote for or against my identity?
Can they be stopped with motivation?
Does society take a dim view of them?
Are my habits breaking laws?
Am I annoying the heck out of the people around me?
Does my habit adversely affect my health and wellness?
Does this keep me from being my best?
Take some time today to identify some bad habits in your life. If you have conquered some of them, please leave a comment to this blog and let everyone else know how you did it!
We’d love to hear your stories!