You know what scares me? The comfort in continuity… the fact that so much of what we do is because we’ve created a habit of doing it, or because it’s familiar to us.
Let me clarify… not everything about continuity scares me. In fact, a lot of the times it can be a good thing, because it means once we foster good habits it becomes pretty natural in most cases to keep them up after practicing them for a certain amount of time. It means we have the power to make things like taking care of ourselves and taking care of others a habit, and that’s a great thing. (Not that we should do it simply because it’s a habit, but you get my point).
I guess it’s the other side… the “bad” habits that scare me. It’s scary because it’s unnervingly easy to not even realize I’m doing something I shouldn’t, simply because after experiencing something enough on a consistent basis, it can’t help but become familiar, and somewhat comforting.
Something I think we have a tendency to do if we’re not careful (once again, saying “we” assuming/hoping I’m not alone in this…), is indulge in our self-created pain. We dwell on things that we know we should move past, or continue bad habits that we know God wants us to stop, because it’s comfortable. It almost feels good to disappoint ourselves and let ourselves down, because we know what it feels like.
We know the drill. We let ourselves down. We hate ourselves for it. We wallow in our own self-pity. We say we’re going to change, but are distracted by this or that thing and eventually forget about it enough as we become numbed and distracted by whatever busyness comes our way.
And we do the same thing day after day, month after month, year after year. And we know we’re not going to change, because we’re not really trying to change. We don’t have a real game plan on how to move forward, or if we do, it’s an unrealistic one, so when we don’t succeed in doing it, we let ourselves down once again with thoughts like, “See?! I knew I couldn’t do it,” and quickly revert back to our old ways. So we’ve already subconsciously planned to fail. We let the fear of the unknown get the best of us. It’s easier. It’s less work. It’s predictable. And there is a twisted element of comfort in that.
You know that song by Lady Antebellum that says, “I’d rather hurt than feel nothing at all”? It’s so cliche, but it’s true: we’d rather hang onto the past and do what we do best even if it’s not the best thing for us… all in hopes of avoiding “nothing at all” or God forbid, avoiding something better we haven’t allowed ourselves to discover yet.
Obviously this looks a little different for everyone. And it’s not necessarily some horribly awful life-shattering habit that I’m talking about.
Sometimes it’s the simple continuation of a thought pattern… one that keeps us in the past, reliving moments that made us feel wronged, rejected, or upset. That pattern keeps us from picking ourselves up and actually MOVING ON.
And sometimes, instead of a mental state, it’s a more outwardly obvious form of self destruction.
Regardless of the nature, bad habits can often be something little and seemingly insignificant. Sometimes it can simply be something we know that we don’t need to be doing, that’s taking up time we could be spending on doing something better… just something that’s significant enough to cause even a twinge of guilt and dissapointment within us… something that inevitably chips away at the trust we have for ourselves.
I think the solution lies in creating new (realistic) expectations for ourselves, and essentially rebuilding a relationship of trust with ourselves… being patient as we do it, but lovingly leading ourselves into new habits, until eventually the old habit seems like merely an illusion. It takes time, and for some of us, we need to start from the ground up, because we don’t trust ourselves at all anymore. And that’s okay! Healing and change takes time. The beauty is found in the journey to that change, and if you sit back and think about it, it’s incredible that we even have the ability to start over like that.
As it relates to how you treat yourself (and even how others treat you), it’s okay and I’d argue, necessary, that the person you are today, doesn’t stand for the things that you stood for yesterday. It’s time to stop expecting and indulging in pain and failure, and to break free from our self-created chains, and forgive ourselves for all the times we haven’t.
So often God sets us free from things we want to be set free from, and the only thing we need to do is allow ourselves to be free. So what are we waiting for? Let’s stop wallowing in our self-manifested puddle of self pity. Let’s get up, and experience the freedom that’s been ours all along.