Do you have a bad habit? One of those behaviors that you wish you could get rid of but can’t seem to? I think everyone has their weakness. For some people it’s alcohol or drugs, for others it’s a person or type of person they can’t seem to get away from. How do these weaknesses develop? Where do they come from? It’s a behavior that was introduced somewhere but now has evolved into an unconscious action.
There is a whole treasure trove of bad habits I could probably dig into but at the risk of opening pandora’s box I’ll stick to a more superficial one. My longest running bad habit is picking at the skin around my thumbs. It sounds disgusting, and it looks disgusting. It’s half a nervous tick and the other half just a mindless act. Most of the time I don’t realize I’m doing it until I look down and see my thumb bleeding.
My mom does the same thing, and you can classify me as the world biggest hypocrite because when I notice her doing it I always point it out, and tell her to stop. Maybe she is my trigger or cue. The inspiration to start the action in the first place when I was younger. They say that forming a habit is a three step loop. First there is the trigger or cue, then the behavior or routine and then the reward. Now I’m not sure where the reward in picking my finger is, but at the end of the habit there has to be something to remind the brain to start the loop again.
Maybe in a semi masochistic kind of way the blood or scraping the skin away is the reward. It makes me think of an opening monologue from an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. It goes:
“Maybe we like the pain. Maybe we’re wired that way because without it… I don’t know. Maybe we just wouldn’t feel real. What’s that saying… Why do I keep hitting myself with a hammer? Because it feels so good when I stop.”
Our habits, even the destructive ones, remind us that we are human. That we bleed and hurt, and that in the end we are not invincible. We are not without weakness but we should try and remind ourselves that it is never too late to change our ways. That is, it’s never to late to change your ways when you understand the structure of your habit. What contributes to your behavior? What is the reward in your action?
I think it’s natural to feel powerless against the substances we are addicted to. But the cliche known as, knowledge is power is appropriate in this case. When you begin to understand who you are and how you function it becomes much easier to identify where you need to change. You can trace the loop that you are stuck in, and put the work in to break free.