“The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do.” – Charles Duhigg
Are you constantly tired? Do you suffer from chronic fatigue? Burnout? Exhaustion? Do you want to change how you feel but just don’t know where to begin? Believe it or not, the first place to start is by looking at your habits – all those little things you do every day – and asking yourself why you do them.
Samuel Beckett said: “Habit is the ballast that chains the dog to his vomit”.
This has always been one of my favourite quotes – in fact, as a teenager I wrote this quote out on a piece of paper and pinned it to my bedroom wall. Most of my friends couldn’t understand how I could like such a “disgusting-sounding” quote, yet somehow, more than 20 years later, this quote often still goes through my head.
We all interpret things differently in life and my interpretation of Beckett’s quote is:
“If you don’t like how you keep feeling then stop doing what you keep doing”.
The small things we do habitually each day keep us feeling the way we are feeling. If we keep snacking on biscuits and rusks (yes….I do), then we will keep having energy lows. If we keep relying on that coffee every morning to get us going (yes….I do), then we will keep being tired every morning until we have had our caffeine. If we keep drinking too much wine at night (and again…yes…I do), then we will keep suffering from sinus problems.
I find when I work with my patients, they are often “keeping” themselves sick, or tired, or unable to sleep through their little habits and routines. In order for them to really start healing on a deep level, they need to take a look at what they keep doing to themselves, and, more importantly, why they keep doing it. Do I snack on biscuits every day because it takes me back to that warm, cosiness of my childhood? Do I drink coffee every morning because I don’t believe I have enough strength to cope with my day? Do I drink wine every night because I feel I can’t unwind?
We can’t change our habits until we understand why we do them, and we can’t really heal until we change our habits. So here is a short, but surprisingly difficult, exercise for you to do: write down your “bad” daily habits and then write down why you think you do each one. Just write them down and think about them. By simply being aware of what you do and why you do it, you will be taking your first BIG healing step and when you feel ready to change that habit it will be easier than you think.