Well, I guess the silly answer is that you have to get the nun out first!
Seriously though, I’ve been struggling with this for years, and it doesn’t seem to get much easier.
I recently “attended” a teleconference about this given by the NVC Academy (http://nvctraining.com/) that I found very enlightening.
For those not aware of it, Non-Violent Communication, or NVC, is a “language” or way of communicating developed by psychologist Marshall Rosenberg. It’s a language based on feelings, and universal human needs.
One of the biggest things I learned in the class is the fact that every habit serves to meet some need, or constellation of needs, in us. For example, one woman in the class was interested in quitting smoking. The trainer had her identify what basic human needs were met by her smoking. They were powerful – things like belonging, autonomy (from her parents when she started smoking) and relaxation.
The trainer encouraged her to identify ways in which those needs could be met in other ways. For example, the need for relaxation could be met by meditation, or breathing deeply, or some sort of exercise. The need for belonging could be met by calling a friend. Etcetera…
For me, the habit that is hardest to shift (“break” feels a bit violent to me) is the one of my morning routine. “Normally”, I would turn on my computer, make my “to do” list for the day, and launch my email program. So I immediately launch into my day of “shoulds” and “have to’s”. The emails start flooding in, and I start responding.
The problem with this for me is that I have a commitment to myself to do things that support my transition from “making a living” to living a life of meaning. That means, for example, doing things like this to support my Lifetools career, and a life of meaning – which for me, means helping people heal and grow, and disseminating what I regard as positive information.
So, if I just launch into the business tasks associated with my “day job”, I’m not keeping my commitment to myself, and I end up feeling sad and guilty, and full of regret.
So now, my new “routine” is this. First thing after breakfast, I practice my flute – even if it’s only for ten minutes. Then I write in my journal. Then I write something in my blog. So, right now (write now?) it’s Monday morning, and I’m feeling the discomfort of shifting a habit.
From working with my therapist, I know that this habit comes, essentially from trying to please my father, something which is rationally absurd, since he’s been dead for 12 years, and I had little contact with him before that. But, he lives on in my consciousness, as most of our parents live on in most of our minds. You see, the kind of work I do at the moment to “make a living” – owner of a small marketing communications business – would have brought approval from my Dad. The other work Lifetools and music (my calling)that I’m moving towards, would have not.
And here’s a confession. It’s now Thursday morning, and I skipped Tuesday and Wednesday. Slippery things, habits – there’s always the temptation to “slip into something more comfortable”.
Oh well, time to remake the commitment continue creating this new habit.