Back in 2017, I broke three long-term bad habits. Ones that I had for decades and decades. At the time, I did not set out to make these changes permanent, in fact, I probably thought I was going to fail. Now, at the start of 2023, I look at my original post on Facebook, and I’m so grateful I chose to sustain the choices I made then. (Read about my transformation.)
Grateful I have kept these unfulfilling habits and addictions from my life.
Grateful I developed new habits that serve the “ME I WANT TO BE”.
Grateful I choose to do my daily routines of journaling and mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation in order to sustain my choices.
Remember, all habits are–good or bad–is how you are spending you time. Which means, if you want to implement changes that are going to stick, you need to honestly analyze how you are spending your time.
As we head into another New Year, I want to inspire you to trust yourself enough to take the steps to change those things that are not serving you, not serving your short and long-term goals, those that are not helping YOU be the greatest YOU you can be!
It starts with knowing what your bad habits are, and knowing you can change whatever you want, because it is within YOUR CONTROL.
Habit #1: I had this one for 45 years.
Habit #2: 15 years.
Habit #3: 30 years.
Habit #1: Nail biting
As long as I could remember, I’d bitten my nails. My mother used to, but stopped in her late twenties. My sister, Lizette, did as well. Remember: kids mimic the habits of their parents, good and bad (ask me where my drinking habits developed). Back in 2017, I wrote: “I still don’t like the sensation of long nails, and will continue to keep mine short(ish), but this will be because I manicure them that way, not because I am mindlessly gnawing on my fingers like a crazy cannibal.”
This is still true today, but I have learned a couple of new things:
1. I love getting mani/pedis now, and often “reward” myself with this–which is a Big Deal because it took me almost fifty years to learn to reward myself with things that are actually good for me or at least not actively bad for me (like alcohol). This one might seem obvious, but genuinely… when you analyze your personal rewards system, it is very telling. Pay attention when you think or say the words “I need” or “I deserve” X. Is that X objectively healthy or unhealthy for you?
2. I often inspect my nails and feel a jolt of joy every time–the reverse of the subconscious shame I felt my whole life when I looked at my hands. My brain is now rewired to appreciate the positive change I made. It’s obviously super helpful that this reminder is physically attached to me and unavoidable, but I recommend finding a talisman like this for yourself. One that gives you joy for something you chose to do that makes your life better. For example, I like to wear rings now, which I never did before because I was ashamed of the way my hands looked. Now I rock my great-grandma’s rocks!
Habit #2: Nicotine gum
I was addicted to nicotine gum for fifteen years. Holy jaw-smack! I first starting smoking when I was 16. Both my parents smoked too (ahem) and quit in their forties. I quit for the first time when I was 21, and didn’t smoke again until I was 30. After that, it was mostly social, on again, off again–only at events, never habitually at home, but sometimes, on Big Binge-y weekends. I finally quit cigs on Thanksgiving Day 2016. But I continued to ignore my non-stop, chow-down relationship with nicotine gum, which finally ended in 2017.
But, since I’m not perfect and neither are you, full disclosure: I am still addicted to chewing gum, but at least it is sugar- and aspartame-free! Chewing gum doesn’t seem like the worst addiction to have but the compulsion of it bothers me. I definitely behave like an addict: I’m aware of where my gum is at all times, I worry when the Amazon delivery is late, I notice when the flavor is slightly “off,” etc. Not to go full Freud 101 on my ass, but seems, between the nail-biting and gum-chewing, I might have some sort of “oral fixation” I need to figure out (yes, it is true, Mommy did not breast-feed me; am I cured now? lol). That said, I suspect if the constant jaw-moving stops, some body-rocking might start… I don’t know… I just feel more “normal” when something is constantly moving…
Habit #3: Daily drinking
In 2017, I said: “You have never seen me show up without a box of vino under my arm. My Facebook feed is filled with people making ‘wine ‘o clock’ and drunk jokes at my expense. This surprised me at first, because it certainly wasn’t the way I perceived myself, but it was very telling that others did. I started to examine the role alcohol was playing in my life, read books highlighting how alcohol (ethanol) is a neurotoxin and depressant. I want to live a long and healthy life (forever, bitches!) and I have a ton of important things I want to accomplish. My habit was hindering me and my goals, so know what? I kicked it to the curb! I don’t feel comfortable (yet?) making definite statements like ‘I’ll never drink again,’ but for now, booze and I are taking a much deserved break…”
I drank my last drink on Boxing Day 2017 and now, at the start of 2023, I am willing to say: I will never drink alcohol again.
Alcohol is a neurotoxin that rots your brain. Alcohol is a depressant that causes anxiety. If you are suffering from either of these symptoms, and you are self-medicating with booze… you are literally using the substance that IS CAUSING THE PROBLEM. FFS, stop! You can read more about my journey to alcohol-free living HERE, HERE, and here are 7 REASONS TO QUIT if you need a primer to get started in the New Year. YOU CAN DO IT!
Nervous habits are the result of underlying root causes…
What do all these habits have in common? Other than my parents, who I am not dissing; they did the most important parts of parenting right: Loving us unconditionally, teaching us to think critically, and encouraging us to be the best people we can.
All these compulsions are arguably “nervous habits.” Am I a naturally nervous person? Maaaaybe. I know I am shyer and more introverted than people think, but maybe that is the case for all of us? That saying “Fake It Till You Make It” has been a personal mantra for a long time, but I’ve grown tired of that outlook.
As I discovered back in 2017, I didn’t want to “fake it” anymore, for one, YOU CAN’T FAKE SKILLS. Also, I wanted to know who I am, discover what I love about myself, and what works, but equally, what I didn’t like, and figure out how to change.
I am still learning, but here is the one thing I do know now that people told me for years and years that I never believed and never did (especially us “people pleasers”) but I now live by: It’s okay, indeed, it is healthy to put yourself first. Do it, and soar!