At the beginning of the year, I consciously abandoned addictive habits which left me feeling drained, upset and sometimes even nauseous. This internal battle to break free took effort, but ultimately restored peace and a sense of control. What habit was it, might you ask? Checking.
Check the locks on the door, once, twice often three and four times. Frequent hand-washing and second guessing my decisions became a nightmare. Of course, most all my friends were unaware; God forbid I admit to anyone what’s really going on. I became late to work on several occasions, but on the plus side, my progress notes were always signed on time (I know this, because I checked). The irony of checking at work became the fact that I performed so well, the checking became worse.
If I wasn’t checking paperwork repeatedly, it was Facebook. What’s going on? Who’s doing what? Is everyone okay? Joining the smart phone community led to tireless checking with such easily accessible internet, although my Pinterest account flourished and led me to countless tasty recipes. Still, Huffington Post scorns social media addicts for their failure to disconnect from illusion.
Why so much checking? How can I break this habit?
The first step to breaking a habit is understanding why you do it. For me, checking relieved anxiety I didn’t realize existed at the time (in retrospect, I’ll admit I was very anxious), and frankly, I was bored . With vigorous exercise and meditation, the anxiety began to dissipate, but you can’t find a solution without recognizing the problem first.
Set Goals. I know, I know, everyone’s heard it before, but I personally thrive with positive reinforcement. For every day I didn’t double check the doors, I accrued “points”, so after a month, I saved $30 to blow on clothes. For those of you struggling to make it a month, begin with a week. It’s just that simple. Never tell yourself “It won’t happen again”. Take it one day at a time with realistic goals. When I began to act on New Years Resolutions, I read research which suggested setting short term milestones so meeting them provided a greater sense of accomplishment, ultimately fueling the desire to achieve.
Identify triggers. Journal your daily activities. Awareness becomes key. When do you often check the most? When can you refrain from the urge to check? I quickly discovered my checking takes place mostly in the morning before work with the locks. Facebook checking happened after work. I learned last week that stumbling across an old friend’s profile (on a mutual friend’s page) didn’t make me feel good, as I blocked him and moved on. Out of sight, out of mind, right? What I’ve learned is how important it is to identify triggers and to practice forgiveness. Despite a falling out, we all deserve to live with a resentful-free spirit.
In conclusion, the Heisenburg Uncertainty Principle led me to review the Many Worlds Theory which completely disopated my addictive patterns once and for all. According to Young Hugh Everett, when an object is measured, the universe splits to accommodate 2 outcomes….what an “aha” moment for me. The way I thought of it, I imagined myself as a million carbon copies. A million Cathys exist with numerous outcomes, which one will I choose today? Oddly enough, this empowering theory probably wasn’t meant to solve addictive habits, but it broke mine within days.
The possibility of multiple worlds is enough to make me want to lead the best life I can. For additional information regarding Everett’s academic career and dissertation, click here. Any advice on how to break a habit is welcomed. Although I struggle with vulnerability, it felt good to write this in hopes someone else may nip their habits in the bud soon.