i think that avoidance is a trick our brains use when we’re young to protect us from scary things, things we can’t yet handle. maybe it’s not necessarily centered in youth, who knows. as a shrink i think everything is centered in youth! but i was thinking yesterday about my own brain. as i’m trying to curb bad habits and cultivate new ones, i go through this process of changing my mind. i’m still working on understanding the process because eventually i’d like to bottle it and sell it and become filthy, filthy rich! but in the meantime, it’s a rough sketch.
i think that in bad habits i use avoidance tricks in my brain (i mean like, my brain literally shuts down into nothingness/blank slate/auto-pilot/plug my ears shut my eyes la-la-la-la i can’t hear you) to keep from facing that i’m doing something that i don’t like, something in that is not serving me but i’m not yet willing to change. the first step is to commit to noticing the brain process, the patterns of behavior, slowly becoming aware of the exact point in the process that i learned to check out. only after giving myself a chunk of time to notice what it is can i begin to understand it. after that, i can decide if i want to keep going with the beliefs that fuel that behavior or decide to change my mind and create something new. it takes time. it takes deep breaths and a willingness to put auto-pilot on pause many, many times, and a big willingness to look at myself. gently.
for some reason in those moments before i’m ready to change i realize there is a fear of examining my patterns and behaviors. that’s why i say avoidance. i’m uncomfortable at best, terrified at worst, to begin to look at myself. i’m not sure why. is everyone that way? but once i commit to gentle self-reflection, it’s not scary anymore. maybe it’s old tapes of harsh criticism that scare me. i try really hard not to do that anymore. and when i allow myself the knowledge of what is going on before and during old habits, that’s when i gain the power to change.
so today i’m thankful for that moment when i have allowed knowledge in, and can see my world crack open with the possibility of freedom from bad habits, and the inevitability of positive change.