“Habits are patterns, and even the smallest ones tell a lot about who you are as a person.”― Jarod Kintz via @Terri_Cole {CLICK TO TWEET}

Habits are actions that you perform so often, they become a part of a routine. Humans naturally tend to gravitate towards the familiar. Daily routines like what side of the bed you sleep on, how you make your coffee or your nightly glass of merlot are all behaviors that become habits as they are repeated regularly. Although you may not recognize them because they become automatic, some habits can have a big impact on your life.

“We are what we repeatedly do.” – Aristotle via @Terri_Cole {CLICK TO TWEET}

Many people have what they consider “harmless” habits. These are behaviors that fall into a grey area on the spectrum from healthy to unhealthy. It could be daily alcohol consumption, online shopping, social media engagement or a host of other behaviors that have become so accepted that it can be difficult to distinguish between compulsion and choice.

Harmless habits may be socially acceptable, but on closer inspection they may not be positive or healthy for you. Honestly assessing how your habits are impacting your life is a part of living mindfully and evolving. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.” What you do daily has a profound effect on who it is you become and what kind of destiny you create.

The greater danger in harmless habits is that they can become, what I call, Shadow Addictions. These are habitual behaviors that do not necessarily interfere with ordinary life responsibilities but if you are compelled to the behavior or it negatively impacts the quality of your life, then you have a problem.

If you ever feel like you absolutely can’t (and don’t want to) skip your nightly glass of wine, daily workout or online poker game, then your habit may have more of a hold on you than you realize. While these behaviors may seem innocent enough, if left unexamined shadow addictions can escalate to full blown addictions and wreck havoc on your happiness, health and life.

In order to take control of your habits or shadow addictions you must first be aware of them. If any part of this post resonates with you, let’s go one step further. Take an honest inventory of habits or behaviors you may be using to mood alter or numb your feelings. Once you have the list you can choose to be mindful of what you are doing. At the end of a long day, instead of allowing yourself to automatically reach for the wine or food, commit to stopping and asking yourself a few questions first.

How am I feeling?

What do I really need right now?

Why do I want to numb out right now?

Your answers may surprise you. Raising your awareness about what is driving your behavior is the beginning of making different more empowered choices about how to handle your feelings.

I’d love to hear from you. What’s one harmless habit you want to break? Drop a line in the comments below and we’ll be sure to support and cheer you on. Breaking habits isn’t alway easy but it can be done. With a decision and commitment, you can pave the way to a happier and healthier you.

Have a great week mindfully choosing your actions and as always, take care of you.

Love Love Love

 

Terri

 

*image courtesy of Celestine Chua

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  1. My “harmless habits” are sugary/caffeinated beverages, namely iced coffee (morning) and diet Mountain Dew (afternoon). I’ve become so conditioned through my routine, that I can’t seem to break out of the rut. I know that they aren’t truly harmless because I’ve experienced weight gain, digestive issues, and they tend to worsen my anxiety. But worst of all, they keep me from being free to live life to the fullest. Despite knowing all this, I continue to do these habits, mainly I think to feel good/normal. And in fear of withdrawal from these substances I’ve become dependent upon. I’d love to hear your suggestions on how I can finally break free from this vicious cycle. Thanks!

    1. David,
      Thank you for sharing here. Just like any addiction quitting will take intention, time and energy. Start by lessening the amount you consume over a two month period of time until you have replaced the afternoon stuff with seltzer or something not filled with chemicals and limit the morning to eventually one cup. You will feel the effects but less if you wean yourself. You can do it!

  2. I agree with Joel, Terri. The “shadow addictions” in your article really got my attention. There are so many “shadow” behaviors, and yet to add addiction shadows to the equation was an eye-opener. Thank you.

  3. Love this article Terri! I especially love what you said about shadow addictions. I think it’s vitally important that we all take an honest inventory of our “harmless” habits and their potential to wreak havoc on our overall health and well being.

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