Do you ever notice yourself falling back into your bad habits and wishing that you could make them go away? I know I do! It wasn’t until recently that I realized that my bad habits aren’t really so bad after all… and that the reason that they keep reappearing is because they are trying to teach me something. Let me explain…
If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I’ve had a stressful few months with my grandmother being in the hospital. This last week we made the decision to bring her home, and while it was the best decision, it was also an emotional one. I spent every day this week traveling back and forth trying to get everything settled for her to come home, and then checking in to make sure things were running smoothly once she was discharged. When I wasn’t at my grandparents’ house, I was still doing all of the things I do on a daily basis to make sure that my own life is taken care of; spending time with my husband and daughter, cleaning, running errands, making dinner, working on my blog, meeting with clients, etc.
My week was so busy that I had very little time to do anything for myself, and each night I found myself feeling depleted and exhausted. On Wednesday night, as I was driving home, I decided that I wanted to find a drive-through Dunkin Donuts so that I could get a hot chocolate. This in and of itself, wasn’t really a big deal… it was cold out, and during the winter I occasionally like to get hot chocolate as a treat. But then, when I found myself wanting hot chocolate again on Thursday, and then on Friday… I knew that something was up.
That’s when I realized that I was trying to use hot chocolate as a way of filling myself up, because there was something that was missing from my life. I realized that I hadn’t been making time to take care of myself this week; that I had been running around trying to take care of everyone else, and leaving myself running on empty. I was trying to fill this emptiness with hot chocolate!
Sometimes, when we find ourselves craving sweets, it’s a sign that we need to treat ourselves in other, more fulfilling ways.
Here is my 3 step process for noticing when this is happening to you and using your “bad habits” as opportunities to learn how to take better care of yourself.
Step 1: Notice your habits
In the story I just described, my “bad habit” was my sugar craving. At other points in my life, my habits have been a craving for wine every night after dinner, or a desire to veg out on the couch watching the Real Housewives. For you, they may be something entirely different. Only you know what your own bad habits are. Start to notice the ways in which you find yourself wanting to numb yourself out from the world a little bit. Notice when these habits start to become a pattern.
Step 2: Ask yourself what you really need
Our bad habits are really trying to teach us something; to help us tune in to something that we are missing. Once we start to look below the surface, we can find the deeper meaning behind our habits.
Take some time to sit quietly. Place one hand on your belly, and one hand on your heart. Close your eyes and take slow deep breaths. Then ask yourself, “What do I really need?” Keep asking this question until you get an answer.
You might discover that a craving for sweets is a sign that you need to treat yourself more sweetly; that you need to devote more time and attention to yourself. A craving for wine every night might be your body’s way of telling you that it needs more down time. A compulsion to watch the Real Housewives for hours on end may really mean that you are feeling stressed out and need some time to relax and unwind.
What are your habits trying to tell you? What do you really need?
Step 3: Change your habits
Now that you know what it is that you really need, you can start to change your habits and fuel yourself with activities and habits that make you feel good.
Once I realized that my desire for hot chocolate every day was really trying to tell me that I needed to take better care of myself, instead of turning to hot chocolate each day, I started finding ways to step up my self care. I started going to sleep earlier. I got back on track with my morning yoga routine. I started going for walks everyday. After just a couple of days of taking better care of myself, I started feeling better, and my craving for sweets started to go away!
So, next time you find yourself falling into some “bad habits”, have some compassion! Your bad habits aren’t there to annoy you or frustrate you. They are a sign that there is something deeper missing from your life. Become a detective and start to uncover the lessons underneath your habits! I know that you’ll start to feel so much better once you start building healthier habits and giving yourself whatever it is that you truly need.
I hope that you find this helpful! Have you had any revelations about your own habits while reading this? Please share in the comments below!