Updated: Feb 13, 2020
Habituation is both a beautiful blessing and a painful curse. Because you are a beautiful human you are habituated by your culture, your family, your work and your environment. How you chew your food, how you say hello to a stranger, how you rise out of bed in the morning, it is all habit dictated by all your experiences until this very moment. This both makes life easier and also heavily restricts what you are currently doing and believing and achieving.
Habituation affects how you move through the world. It affects so much of how you see and how you do. How far you progress in your career, who you have babies with, how you parent, who you choose as your peers and how happy you are. Most of it you probably won't have paid any attention to at all. Most of it you will be asleep to. But others won't be. The people you come into contact with are experiencing that habituation in every breath you take in their direction. Some of it beautiful, much of it more painful to yourself and to others than you can possibly imagine.
And I'm not just talking about the big things. This all starts with how are you breathing, how you move your arms, what you read first thing in the morning in the last thing you do before you sleep. On a subtle level, does the air around you feel good when it encounters you or does it wince in your presence? Are you going to work scowling, or with a relaxed, open face? Are you noticing the world around you with a modicum of joy, or feeling annoyed at everything you see? What thoughts do you habitually spend more time paying attention to and do they hurt you or serve you and your desires?
Yesterday I was travelling as a woman sat opposite me reading a magazine featuring celebrities in various different stages of apparent distress. This woman was vastly overweight and had creases in her face where she had scrunched it up over years of life. As I felt into her I experienced the life-force inside of her. I noticed how dulled it had become. I noticed with my usual awareness that she is a beautiful being who is a collection of all of her experiences. She is doing what she does with the resources she has AND she is making choices. In that moment the choice was to read about people who are exhibiting pain and disconnection in various different ways. By doing this one simple thing she is perpetuating her way of moving in the world, engaging her mind in something that although no doubt brings her a few moments of distraction to what is actually occurring, perpetuates a close down in her body and experience of life as she reads about the world through the lens of this particular magazine's toxicity.
The senior manager I spoke to recently (a woman) was sitting across from me at our meeting, shoulders forward, legs crossed, feeling disheartened with her ability to be heard by the exec team and her workforce. Her bodily and energetic state spoke of years of pushing hard. Tight frame, pursed lips, stomach firmly pulled in, held, tight. In her relationship she feels her husband doesn't do enough. She dictates all that happens with the kids and the home. She doesn't find her partner particularly attractive. They rarely have sex at all and when they do it's "pretty average". She has given up in many ways and is on autopilot through her life. But like all women she is a powerhouse inside. She is an incredible woman who once had a big vision, she once had a far greater connection to herself and to others. This might have been long, long ago, but she remembers it. it's just that her power is combusting internally. She is a product of her habituation in a patriarchal workplace and also in taking charge at home in a way that is making her unhappy.
Habituation gets us all in ways you won't believe and unless you work to change it it will definitely be affecting you negatively.
Creating More Intentionality in Your Life
What are you paying attention to? I recommend doing an audit on these and any more you can think of.
How you move your body. Pay attention to your movement and to others. Increase your awareness of your body.
How you breathe. Shallow, full, in your chest, down to your stomach, fast, slow, relaxed, tense?
How heavily you feel your feet on the ground. Could you feel them more?
How do you move your arms as you talk? Quickly, slowly? How does it feel to those around you when you do? How does it feel to you?
The softness or hardness of the muscles on your thighs, stomach, between eyebrows, lips, jaw, neck, shins, little finger, big toe etc.
Are the shoulders sinking forwards or backwards? How is it to change it. Better, worse? Do you believe something different about yourself or about life when you adjust this?
What are you spending your time filling your mind with? Positive supportive things - or not? Pay more attention to what you input.
How do you hold your phone? Does it feel good to your body, or could you lift your arm a few inches to ease your neck? Are you habituating a slouch and a downward intention to your body?
How do you order your morning coffee? With eye contact, with a smile, in silence, with conversation, quickly, slowly? Play with this.
What thoughts are getting your attention? Relaxing ones or stressful ones? You cannot stop your thinking but you can give some of it more importance than others.
What are you believing to be true? Does it work for you to believe that?
And what else?
If the air doesn't like how you move, the people you are responsible for at work are probably hating rather than loving your impact. If your thoughts are painful, chances are they are holding you back. What would you actually want to have happen? Does this make a difference to how things are? Probably. Always. But of course, you get to choose.
Stop for a moment and check in with how many of your habitual ways of moving in the world you actually want? How many are you intentionally choosing and how many are you letting choose you? And what does it mean for this planet if so few people are choosing habits and behaviours that are nurturing and healing rather than slightly or majorly painful for themselves and for everyone around them?
Most people don't realise how much of a choice they actually have. When you do you are able to wake up to a whole new world of possibility. To make up a whole new world of possibility. You are able to lead more powerfully, parent intentionally, love fully, be loved deeply. Love where you are now, know you can create more of what you want through a greater intentionality, and know that nothing has to be the way it's always been.