Coming off New Year’s Intention season, you may have hit the February slump, a time of accepting the reality that you may not immediately improve upon all of your irksome habits.
Believe it or not, this is the ideal mental state to prepare you to create sustainable change through self love. Rather than alter all of your habits, commit yourself to the process of learning to live with (and maybe even love!) some of your more challenging qualities. You might just realize that you already are your ideal self.
Here are some places to begin:
Contain Your Chaos
You know that pile of clothes living on the chair in the corner of your bedroom that makes you feel like a slob? This common “flaw” is ripe for a reframing, or what at Maeve’s Method we call “creating categories according to you.” Let’s start by renaming your “clothes I always make a mess with” (so much self judgment!) as “clothes that are too worn to put back in the drawer, but that will likely be worn again before washing” (a factual, judgment-free description). In my pile, I have: lounging attire, a yoga outfit, my around-the-house sweatshirt, and gardening pants.
My room-changing moment happened when I realized that a) this pile serves a legitimate function in my life; and b) I could give this pile a designated place that does not feel messy. In my case, I use a cute open wicker basket that lives in a corner of my room next to my hamper.
Systems For Your Schedule
I am a morning person. This may sound like a gift, but it presents a challenge in the evening, when there is no way I have the energy to put away my clothes. In fact, it is an act of self love for me to throw my clothes down on the floor after a long day as a symbol of unburdening myself of the day’s work (Maeve does this too!).
So, I made a deal with myself: if ‘Morning Abby’ can commit to taking take 5-10 minutes every morning to put away my things from the night before, ‘Nighttime Abby’ can throw them on the floor. If I see my ‘morning self’ not keeping up her end of the bargain, then my ‘night self’ will have to struggle through it. Whatever rhythm suits your life, know that it is okay to be messy sometimes as long as you have built-in checks and balances for your less productive habits.
Which brings me to my next tip:
Designate 'Disaster Days' and 'Do-It' Days
I recently learned an interesting behavioral change technique from a surprising source: my dental hygienist. Every time I leave the dentist with that fresh, bright feeling, I promise myself that I will floss every night. Admittedly, I only keep up this routine for two weeks before I am back to never flossing. This changed with my recent visit when my hygienist gave me an interesting assignment. Rather than floss every night, she told me, pick one night a week to be your flossing night. No matter what, floss that night and only that night. After one month, gradually increase by one day a week until a regular flossing habit emerges.
This same technique can work to keep even the most untidy person organized. Let your emails pile up for 6 days a week — your inbox “disaster days” — and clear them out on the seventh — your inbox “do-it day”. Then increase to twice a week, and so on, until you are living every day with a clutter-free inbox.
Embrace Your Attachments
Through Maeve’s Method, we learn to tap into the story of our belongings in order to decide if they are worthy of places in our home. Sometimes, clients find that they cannot verbally justify why they want to keep an object but are still certain that they are not yet ready to let it go. This can lead to feelings of guilt: “am I doing the Method correctly if I am holding on to something I never even look at that serves no practical purpose?” My answer to this question is self love. This item means something to you, it has a story in your life, and it is worthy of a place in your home (at least for the time being).
Don’t Believe The Hype
Ask anyone on the internet and they’ll tell you that one of the worst habits a person can have is scrolling a smartphone in bed before trying to fall asleep. A friend told me of her intention to go cold turkey with this undesirable practice. I was curious to learn more, so I questioned her:
Why is this bad for you? I’m not sure. Does it keep you up at night? No, it actually helps me fall asleep. Are you looking at things that make you feel sad or angry? No, I normally read light articles.
She realized that looking at her phone at night is not actually a bad habit for her. Just because something seems like it should be a bad habit, or because other people find it detrimental, does not mean it actually is a bad habit for you. I’m sure we all have a lot of internal work to do without adding someone else’s problems to our list!
Do you have any new intentions for learning to live with difficult habits? Share in the comments below.
Photo Credits: Unsplash, Kaboomopics, Death to Stock Photo