Good or bad? Helpful or limiting? Does it depend on the habit?
Certainly there are bad habits, things we do which have negative impact. Overeating, on a regular basis, for example, most often produces a body with excess weight, a body that is sluggish and unhealthy. Smoking, while it may calm agitation, is expensive, unpleasant to bystanders and believed to cause lung cancer.
What about good habits? Brushing and flossing our teeth after we eat would seem to be “all good”. But what about things like efficiency – always doing tasks in the most expedient manner, or being organized – everything in its place?
I’d like to propose that good habits, and not even just when taken to the extreme, can be limiting.This morning, I went to my organized closet to select a sweater. This sweater has a fancy pin as a closure and my habit is to attach the pin to the sweater whenever I hang it up. And I always (read, usually) attach it on the right front side of the sweater. Today, I put the sweater on, went for the pin, and it wasn’t there. Quickly, I made the assumption that it had fallen off and searched the floor of my closet, the boxes of shoes, and the nearby clothing to no avail. My husband searched. Nope. No pin. I imagined the task of adding buttons to the sweater as the pin was not replaceable. Then I let it go and grabbed a scarf to use to close the sweater so I’d stay warm. While that worked for a few minutes, it came loose and I went to retie it.
That’s when my habit was proven to be limiting!
In attempting a better tie, what to my less than wondering eyes did appear but the pin on the inside left panel of the sweater! My “good” habit of “everything in its place” had limited my thinking so much that I neglected to check the most obvious location for the pin.
My good habit limited my curiosity; it closed my mind to possibility.
Here are a couple other limiting habits that I have practiced over the years:
- Find the quickest route to work and always go that way – efficient but what inspiration lies on the road less traveled?
- There is only one good way to load a dishwasher so don’t let others help since they’ll do it “wrong”
- “If you’re going to do something, do it well” – advice which taken to the extreme leads some folks to doing “it” and nothing else. For me, it led to avoiding so many opportunities and activities because I didn’t know how, didn’t think I’d be “good enough”
Consider one of your good habits. Notice how it helps you. Then, step to the other side and wonder:
How does this habit block me?
What do I miss out on when I’m habitually acting this way?
What is possible if I release my grip here?
Then know that you are at choice. You get to choose if you’ll continue with the habit or not, continue sometimes but not always. Consider playing around! Experiment with letting it go and notice the impact. When I let go of efficiency first, I notice sparks of intuition, inspiration and delight. Often, those sparks lead to efficiency that I couldn’t have gotten to in my logical brain.
What good habit will you soften today?