Ever consider how much you run your day on reflex? At the extreme, reflex is the coordinated response with a result from the body at the survival level, it’s instantaneous. Step on a tack on the floor and your body is responding before you are fully aware of what has happened. Reflexes protect us from immediate harm.
As a child, we initially had to expend a coordinated effort in learning tasks. We learned how to walk, jump, brush our teeth, write numbers and our name. We repeated these things until the skills were developed and became a habit. Initially we had to think a lot about how to do a particular task but once learned we seemingly forget what it took to learn.
Look at a 14-month-old learning how to walk. Fully concentrating, they can do it. Distract their attention; they immediately fall from their change in focus. Once we repeat it enough, our habits do not involve much effort from our higher awareness. The pattern is repeated and wired in neural networks. If you don’t believe me, try writing with your non-dominant hand. Trying something new requires much more attention.
Routines are groupings of automatic habits to which we are not cognitively mindful. We get up, usually the same way, to perform the same things in getting ready for our day which was much like the same day before. All is well and good until we realize our routine is no longer serving us, may be limiting us or we are harming ourselves.
Yet we continue doing the same things and expect different results. We’re on auto-pilot.
If that looks like you, what can you begin to do now to change your habits and routines? A start is checking in with what you are doing and feeling right now. That’s it, do a check in. Are you mad, glad, bored, tired, happy, content, upset or anxious? What are you feeling right now? Write it down.
This places deliberate awareness on your thoughts, images, feelings and actions. Tune in, record or journal both the feeling (heart) and mind (thought). Rank this feeling or thought. Is it strong or weak? Or assign a number to it from 1-10. 1/10 is barely there to 10/10 fully engaged in its presence.
Is it a productive thought/feeling? Yes or No
What often holds us back are our subconscious stories and beliefs. We have difficulty changing that which we cannot name or are not aware of. We might only have a vague awareness of “something” but not be able to put our finger on the sensation. I call that a niggling feeling; it may be a sensation in your body that you can locate and describe: A “gut feeling” and “weight on your shoulders”. This is your body speaking to you. That’s OK. First become aware without judging and thank yourself for noticing.
Where do you want to take this next?… Look for next week’s blog on Tuning into intuition, insight and inspiration.