How do you use habits and rituals in your life? Not OCD type of rituals, but those little routines you repeat often or daily.
You say you don’t ‘use’ them? They just happen?
No, they don’t. They are a process like most developments and changes, and part of the pain and learning we need to go through to get there. So you can start to consciously use those habits you have developed – identify if they are helpful habits first though!
And the rituals too – create rituals to help you consciously work through painful or difficult situations like loss, dramatic changes, and anxiety inducing events.
Taking the same route to work or school in the mornings
- The way you lay out e-mails or topics you choose to post about
- The way you talk to people
- The way you dress
- How you approach life
…and if necessary, if you find they aren’t helpful to you, you can change them!
Rituals are temporary more often then not – to deal with a particular situation or event, a process of changing and healing maybe, or managing a situation (feeling in control):
Wearing that interview suit each time
- Carrying your lucky purse when you feel insecure or uncertain
- Wearing lucky socks – often gaudy too! – that will help you ‘win’ at sports
- Keeping a photo of a lost loved one close, looking at it and feeling the pain*
- Writing a letter to cleanse the soul and mind, and which you might never send but it helps
- Walking round the house when you are leaving for holidays checking windows, doors, taps and plugs etc.
The difference between the two behaviours is consistency and circumstances.
Also the reason – habits save time and effort, make room for us to do without thinking (same route) and are energy efficient as far as thinking and change management are concerned which can be distracting and time consuming.
Rituals are processes we adopt to help us through a situation, make it more manageable, make us feel more in control of what is often a very uncertain outcome for us! Loss of a loved one means changes to our habits, our self belief and our future options. A competition means we may win or we may lose, play well or note – like England recently!
No doubt many of those players had their rituals – lucky underwear maybe, or prayers or favourite meal the night before, or those lucky socks on the day!
We know on some level the ritual is just that – a chosen behaviour or set of behaviours, but as we also know this gives us choice – personal control over that uncertain future – and so we go through it with hope, it calms the physical and mental stress the uncertainty will cause us – so it’s helpful!
Both habit and rituals though can be unhelpful and unproductive for us – so you need to work that out by thinking about:
- how it feels during and afterwards;
- was the outcome manageable whether or not it was favourable for us e.g. winning or losing;
- did it calm us and give us more energy to concentrate on the situation/activity
- did it work
- By building your self-esteem, your confidence, changed your mindset which in turn affected positively your attitude, increased your own self-trust and self-belief that you could achieve what you needed to
- Did it emotionally satisfy your needs too
Habits and Rituals are important – they can be individual like this, or social too.
Marriage is a ritual, as is divorce
- Birth is a process but the rituals associated are christening, wetting the baby’s head, going home from hospital to the newly created nursery
- Buying personal and shared items for your new home perhaps
- A new pair of shoes for your new job – people see the change in your dress habits
- A new car when you got that promotion (also a reward, which is a good rituals to adopt!) that shows the world you did it!
- A shared song at a football match
- Wearing rugby shirts to match your teams when you watch them
- A festival or concert, sharing music you like together – a new one each year, or the same one every year
Other rituals might be daily routines – I wash the dishes every morning before feeding the cat, eating breakfast, tidying the kitchen.
I refresh my lipstick before leaving a restaurant, going out or going into a meeting or client session.
It’s become a habit but for me it puts on my ‘uniform’, my image and prepares me for the transition.