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Habit Addict

Covid-19 has created a pandemic of fear in America and across the whole world. When people are fearful and locked up at home they get restless, feel anxious, and most have no coping skills to deal with their fears. So, they turn to drugs, alcohol, and other habit-forming behaviors to numb how they feel. Then one day the stay home orders are lifted and everyone is expected to miraculously walk out their doors and head to work or school leaving all the bad habits behind. The thought of this causes more anxiety as we realize we must leave the house that has become our sanctuary. Many will chose to remain in their homes doing what is comfortable and will not be able to overcome the habits they've created.

I believe researchers will reveal in years to come the number of lives lost due to 2020's forced isolation, addiction, and suicides and I suspect those numbers will be higher than those who died. Ramifications from the fallout of changed livelihoods, loss of income, homelessness, families lost to divorce, and addictions that have been compounded by increased incidents of domestic violence and child abuse will impact families generationally for many years to come. Consider those who lived through The Great Depression. I knew a woman who would wash her used zip-loc bags and reuse them to save money even though money was no longer lacking. My grandfather would visit the hardware store to search through loose nails and bolts to find the ones that were on "sale." My grandmother instructed me to buy the damaged can goods at a discount even while taking a risk that the food might be "damaged" as well. We all become addicted to our habits. After all creating a habit is the beginning of developing an addictive pattern.

I often tell my clients that it takes about 90 days to stop a bad habit. But you MUST start a new healthy habit to take it's place. The two must coexist or you will not be successful in stopping the old habit and making the new habit stick. Consider stopping smoking...ever see someone munching on carrot sticks? They are using the carrots to replace the hand-to-mouth habit that triggers their desire to smoke. Weight-loss is gained when people stop eating food that is bad for them and replace it with healthy food. One of my friends quit eating sugar for a month and replaced it with natural foods. When she ate her "favorite" meal she said it was disgusting. The addiction to sugar made her taste buds crave the meal even at the expense of good taste. Now, she has no desire to eat fast food because eating healthy food has become her new habit.

Any bad habit that we return to over and over again can be considered an addiction. Food, exercise, binge-watching, gaming, gambling, drugs, alcohol, and even relationships can be habit-forming. Even positive habitual behaviors can be considered addictions. We are creatures of habit and routines make us feel comfortable and safe. But, are we truly safe or just living in denial? Take a close look at your life and find the things you do out of habit. Even our thoughts and our words can result from bad habits. Try using another descriptive word to express your feelings instead of just dropping "bombs." You'll realize how lazy you've become in your thinking, how comfortable you are in your complacency, and how you've settled to be less than your best self. Then make a decision to make a change and search out others who can help you accomplish that change.

“I got better the way everyone gets better: by trial and error and error and error, by fumbling around and making mistakes but not giving up and working incredibly hard at it every day and eventually, through a painful and laborious process of eliminating every wrong turn, finding my way.”

Mishka Shubaly,The Long Run


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