Friday, 15 April 2011

The Habit of a Lifetime

Of course, not all habits are destructive or annoying. I like the fact that my morning routine is such a well grooved habit that I no longer have to remember to clean my teeth or moisturise my face. I'm glad it's a habit because I can allow my mind to wander to different, more useful or more creative thoughts.

But there are other habits that aren't so useful and the worst thing is you might not know you've got them! They creep up on you, you know. Until suddenly you discover an annoying little habit. You know, like phrases that somehow become part of your everyday language - filling up those gaps, as you pause to think, with meaningless words, you know!

Some bad habits can have a marked affect on relationships, creating significant stress between couples.I started to create a list of poor habits, only to realise that was leading me into a judgement about what makes a habit 'bad'. It's a very personal thing, so at whatever point one of you decides that raised voices, interruptions, rudeness etc constitutes bad behaviour, then that is the time to consider whether this is a habit that you might want to change.

One of our jobs as relationship coaches is to help individuals become aware of their behaviour patterns and how useful they are to them. Sometimes it can seem a daunting task to change a pattern of a lifetime and we often hear people say, 'I am who I am. I'm too old / too set in my ways to change now.' So we ask them to take part in a little exercise to show what's needed to make changes. A little convincver that it is possible to convert an old habit into a new one.

You can do this now:
  • Clasp your hands together
  • Notice which index finger is on top - the right or the left
  • Unclasp your fingers before putting them together again with the other index finger on top
  • Check yourself - have you really got it the other way round?
  • How does that feel? For most people it is strange or even uncomfortable
  • Repeat the unclasping and re-clasping with the 'wrong' index finger on top - at least twenty times. 
  • Have another go with the 'right' or original index finger on top and notice how that feels now
So it's the practice that makes the difference. You need to practice a new habit at least 20 times for it to replace the old habit so you don't even notice.

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