Humans are creatures of habit.. We have all probably heard that one at least a time or two but have we really thought about what that means? If we truly are “creatures of habit” which there are plenty of examples to support that notion, such as the comfort we gain from keeping close to the same overall routines in our lives like waking up, making the bed, brushing our teeth, and putting on our clothes all before we head out the door with our cup of coffee in hand to go to work each day. These things make up some of the simpler routines in our lives but these aren’t the only routines we have.
When we think about a routine we usually are drawn to the idea of something we do on a consistent basis. Most of the things that come to mind are the more menial tasks we tend to do during our day that exist physically.. as actions. We need to be mindful of the fact that we also hold much deeper, sometimes longer standing habits, that aren’t quite so obvious and they’re sometimes easy to overlook even if we are aware of them.
These less easily identifiable habits include our behaviors, moods and emotions. Throughout our lives we build these “rivers” in our minds. These rivers are in part built upon our experiences and the ideas of ourselves that we build up in our heads. Just as water will end up settling more readily to a riverbed in a woodland setting, our most frequented and habituated moods, emotions, and behaviors settle most readily to the surface in face of the experiences we meet on a day to day basis.
Understanding this notion is profound. Once you accept and understand that you create habits based off of moods, behaviors and emotions just as you can create a habit of smoking a cigarette or brushing your teeth you will then be able to more easily identify potentially unwanted experiences emotionally and question them.
Next time you experience something that seems to trigger a strong and unwanted emotional response try asking yourself if you are reacting in a conditioned way to something you have encountered? Be honest with yourself and don’t surprised if you find something below the surface.