Building New Habits
Wearing my "Stretch Yourself" Tank
As a Reminder to Build Good Habits Daily
WEGO Health Activist 30-Day Writer's Challenge Day 4
Creature of Habit
What good habits, (health or otherwise,) do you have? Do you have a routine that you follow every morning? Are there any bad habits you wish you could break? #HAWMC
Habits are what keep us connected to our visions, commitments and goals. Whether we are in a "zone" of wellbeing, productivity, passion and joy or are going through a really rough time of trauma, internal struggles, relationship angst or disordered eating, creating and continuing to develop habits is one of the keys to transforming our psyches and our bodies to a feel-better place. My mentor in cultivating habits, T. Harv Eker says, "It's the habit, not the amount." It is not how much of the habit you do; it's the Doing of the habit. I would refer to this as shifting our cellular circuitry; building a new cellular DNA, when our old one wants to go to its default button and keep us stuck in the same old patterns. The author SARK coined the term, "micromovements." Having written sixteen books, she actually considers herself a procrastinator! She recommends that if you need to clean out your closet, the first day, you simply open your closet door~ It begins to set your intention and cultivate the habit.
One of the oldest AA slogans is, "move a muscle, change a thought." From a behavioral perspective, when we simply shift oursleves into a new habit, we begin to shift every single aspect of our thinking and feeling that occurred up to this point. As we integrate the new habit, we begin to crowd out the old beliefs and behaviors. For example, if your typical response to the start of a binge-eating episode is to decide that you've already thrown in the towel; isolate yourself and eat till you're in pain, believing you will get back on track tomorrow, and you keep doing this each time you feel a binge coming on, you are familiarizing your body and beliefs with this pattern, and it will naturally seek out the binge behavior when the feeling starts to come over you. However, if the next time this happens, you instead move yourself out of the house and over to a friend's, or put yourself into a different activity, or write down five things you like about yourself, you start to shift the body's awareness to this healthy choice rather than the self-destructive one. Pretty soon, as you cultivate this new habit of choosing self-love over self-loathing, your body starts to crave the nurturing rather than the pain and the binge no longer is the immediate response. That is called building a new habit.
Every morning, when I awake, I spend some time connecting with my inner awareness. I start with gratitudes for even the littlest things that happened the day before, like eating one meal mindfully or getting a great parking spot. This brings me into a state of feeling good and serves to remind me that no matter what didn't work or was diffcult in my day, there were still positive parts. Then I set my intentions for the day - this is when I say what I want my day to be like, as if it already has happened. I might say, "I choose to eat only foods that nourish me," even though I haven't yet chosen those foods, or, "my conversation with _____ is filled with kindness and love," before an anxiety-provoking talk with a friend or family member. When it comes time to eat my first meal or have that conversation, my body and my psyche remember my intentions and want to rise up to fulfill them. After my intentions, I also say prayers for other people I know who need some good vibes sent their way. That is a really powerful part of my aware time that is all about giving to others and reminding me I have a purpose larger than just my story. Then I stretch out on the yoga mat, opening my legs, hips and spine and connecting to my body before I go out into the world. Physical connection like this is very important for grounding ourselves - it's like claiming our space in the world. I also read a page or two from an inspirational book. This reminds me that I'm always open to learning more than what I already know to help myself. My morning habit is really important for me, as it's how I remember who I am and why I'm here before I get caught up in everyday life. The amazing thing is that when I first intiated the habit, I had to consciously remember it was something I was choosing for my health and wellbeing and do it even when I didn't feel like it. Now, I cannot imagine not starting my day that way, and even if I'm tired or have to get up super early to fit it in, it feels like a best friend by my side; a part of me that's as normal as brushing my teeth.
I don't really think there are "bad" habits; only ones that don't serve to help us be who we really want to be. One of mine is eating too quickly - when it happens, I notice it, smile, and try to chew a bit more slowly. Remember, "it's the habit, not the amount," so each time I let my body know I'm noticing this tendency, it already sends the message of change. I recommend noticing your behavior (awareness); smiling with recognition even if you can't stand it (self-love) and then taking a small step to try a new habit (change). I think being in our own loving process is much more gratifying than striving for perfection. There is a recognizable joy that comes from the transformations we see when we allow ourselves to consciously cultivate new habits. The change is not merely something we do - it becomes a full-bodied experience as we witness one new habit affecting multiple parts of our lives in a positive way.
What new habit can you start today?