“You’re a hard, such a very hard, habit to break.” Chicago
We all have habits. They give us a sense of security, safety, surety. We rise at the same time in the morning, we drink our coffee, brush our teeth, drive to work, etc. Our habits create a home for us. This home keeps us centered and contented.
What about emotional habits? Most of us don’t think of how we are feeling at any certain time. We know mad, sad, happy, and “fine”. If we stop and think about how we feel habitually, we may recognize a pattern. Every time someone cuts us off in traffic, how what emotion comes up? Every time our partner engages in a certain behavior, how do we feel? Every time we engage in a certain behavior, how do we feel?
It’s important to become aware of these feelings because emotion drives thought, thought drives behavior. If we are constantly driven by emotions, we lose the power of choice. And then the cozy home that habit built becomes a prison of emotional reactions that could put us in conflict with those around us.
Once we can become aware of the habitual feelings, then we have to accept them as a part of who we are. Without judgement or censorship, we can acknowledge that we are in a rut. Self-deprecation isn’t helpful, it just feeds shame.
Shame LOVES self-deprecation. It gobbles it up and grows bigger and bigger until shame casts a shadow over your whole life, driving self-defeating behaviors and damaging relationships. So let’s not feed the monster with self-judgment. We simply need to accept and acknowledge the habit. Then we can choose the next the thought.
We can create a new habit, a habit of pausing for self-appraisal, emotional identification and acceptance, and choice. We don’t have to be prisoners of emotional habits. We do have power over habit.
If we find that our habit has become a compulsion, then it’s time to seek help. There are tons of 12 Step Programs for all kinds of compulsions, from Overeaters Anonymous, Emotions Anonymous, Codependents Anonymous, etc. Check out this link for more types.
Just for Today
I will become more aware of how I’m feeling. I will name the feelings, and investigate them. I will accept this is how I’m feeling now. Then I will decide how I want to respond to the feeling. I will not shame myself with “I shouldn’t feel this way”, but I will accept that all feelings are valid.
God, help me recognize and acknowledge my emotional habits. Enable me to investigate them with an open mind and without judgement. Help me to be kinder and more gentle to myself, knowing that no one is perfect. Nourish the emotions that come up and heal my soul.