I’m not even sure how we got on the subject, but a friend and I started talking about our showering routine.
On the days I wash my hair, I start with shampoo, then conditioner; while the conditioner is soaking in, I wash my body and shave; then I rinse the conditioner, wash my face and am done. My friend agreed to a point saying she washes her face before rinsing out the conditioner and washing her body last. Obviously wrong 🙂
It got me asking myself though, “Why do I do the things I do?” I’m not entirely sure why my shower routine is the way it is—probably time effectiveness for having to share a shower with others in my house. But our talking about that simple routine, while it could be changed, is really second nature when I step in the tub.
The definition of a habit is, “an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.” Another definition is, “a dominant or regular disposition or tendency; prevailing character or quality.”
In light of those definitions and knowing some of my vices, I am not a fan of the adage that humans are “creatures of habit.” But our habits, our learned behaviors are the result of experiences we’ve had or circumstances we’ve adapted to.
Confession time. One of the unattractive habits that I was taught and struck me while thinking about my showering routine (of which I blame my mom—sorry madre!) is when I wash my hair and I have hair that comes out, I have to put it on the wall of the shower so it doesn’t clog the drain. I know, super gross, but most women do it. But think about it—on the wall or in the drain, it’s really quite practical. When I am done with my shower, I take the hair off the wall and put it in the trash. There have been more than a couple times that I have forgot to do that last part. Growing up my step-dad was always very diligent to let me know I forgot. Again, bring it back to the source—totally mom’s fault!
As I begin to identify my less attractive habits & wrong ways of thinking, particularly those that negatively impact myself or others in relationships, such as my people pleasing or when I’m less gracious & loving, I want to call out the root source of how those habits got there, but working to change them can be a process. It’s not a quick and easy five-step program that we can master, get our certificate, and then quit making progress on.
Real life: Making changes to adjust our habits is a continual process where constant mindfulness and diligence is required if old bad habits are to be replaced with new ones and the new ones are to stick. Once we start the process to change, we can actually never stop. This is super depressing and even overwhelming when you so desperately want to make a change for the better.
I never fully understood this until I started working out for myself instead of the military forcing me to do so. I always thought that once I got in top shape I could coast, riding out the benefits of my hard work. Truth is—if I wanted to stay in shape, I had to maintain everything that I did to get there. Granted it wasn’t with the same intensity to get to where I was, but I still had to stay active. Just because I ran a 10K well two years ago, doesn’t mean I could do that again tomorrow without training (I mean I could, but it would be rough). The same goes with changing our habits.
Real life: The times I think that I can bank on past success or coast on current progress, I set myself up for future failure.
I always need to remember to clean my hair off the shower wall or when it dries, it’s going to end up in the drain, which is exactly what I wanted to prevent in the first place. Even if I was well intentioned, my absent-mindedness, not being diligent, or just being in a hurry could result in clogged drains or disconnect in relationships that I’ve tried to build up well.
This is a constant struggle for me, which makes it super frustrating. But big picture as we identify negative habits, it is an encouragement to me & hopefully to you, in changing them it doesn’t happen overnight so while we need to do the work, we also need to give ourselves some grace. Stepping into grace says that we are not going to agonize over past failures. Bob Goff, author of Love Does, had a great quote. He said, “We spend a lot of time memorizing failures God spent a lot of love saying we could forget.” Amen!
Trying to change habits is difficult enough, without beating ourselves up when we stumble in our attempts. I always need the reminder to be good to myself, being my constant cheerleader in the minor successes along the journey instead of my own worst critic at every turn.
In reality I can always snake the drain to make sure everything is flowing correctly if I happen to get a clog from the hair that I allowed to get built up. Praise God that each day is a new opportunity to begin again.
Until next time…Live as a Masterpiece.