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When was the last time you recognized a “habit” that is running your life?
Often times when I ask this question, the conversation leads to obvious habits. Good or bad. Things like smoking, drinking, waking up early, working out regularly and such. But that’s really not what I am referring to. I am referring to the habits that we don't easily recognize, the ones that are not evident. Hidden drivers that steer us. These are the habits that really run our lives, shape our responses and make our choices for us.
Let’s make it simple.
Imagine a camera. A camera captures an image through a lens. Of course, the produced image will be affected by the type of the lens we utilize. The lens can bring an object super close, make the surrounding blurry, focus on one point or create many other effects. Habits work the same way. They act like a lens from which we view the world; our surroundings, our relationships, our evaluations of any situation. We are limited by the power of these habits. All the ways we connect to, and communicate with the world, inner & outer worlds, are filtered by these deeply engrained habits, or filters.
How about some examples?
I am often accused of wearing Sunny glasses and just seeing the good in the world. Everything, always, rosy and vibrant! True. That’ s one of the filters I wear. Not intentionally. You may call this a “ good” filter. A habit that keeps me moving forward with a positive attitude, faith and hope. But, the same filter, the same habit, when acting subconsciously can also cause me harm. Many an occasion it can make the reality blurry for me. It can become a hideaway for not seeing what I should see. It filters out all the dangers and negative aspects of a situation when I am facing a moment of decision making and will only allow me to see a distorted version of reality. Like any other habit that we act upon unknowingly, it can have it’s benefits but surely it harms as well.
One of my clients recently decided to start a second Masters Degree in Computer sciences after having an MSc, a PHD, two young kids and a satisfying career. She remembered how she would mix coffee and coke to stay up to study. She recognizes that her health is compromised. But she’s not ready to give up perfectionism. So, she has to do everything herself and never asks for help. Neither is she ready to give up more degrees on her resume. I am all for education. I am all for growth and development. But when “ achieving” becomes a habit, a run-away from personal growth, a safe zone to avoid being present with life; this is when one must pause. How much am I running my life and how much is my life running me.
I am certain you have a million better examples. As John Dryden said: We first make our habits and then our habits make us.”
What habits are making YOU?
What filters do you view the world through?
What can you change?