Hi! Ashleigh here!
In November, Carla wrote this really thought-provoking post on shedding good habits. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend you do. Go on…I’ll still be here when you get back!
When I read that post, I pretty much immediately knew what “good” habit I was needing to shed: nap taking.
See, power naps can be helpful. I’m sure many of us have heard how 20-30 minute naps can restore and even increase alertness while enhancing performance. The top results in a Google search of “naps” are all about their benefits.
For many people, naps are a beautiful thing.
But for me, my napping had gotten out of control. It had morphed from being a beneficial tool to becoming an avoidance technique.
Somewhere along the way, I had started taking naps to avoid unpleasant feelings. Whether I was anxious about work that needed to be done, overwhelmed by looming chores, or simply feeling down, I began turning to naps to rescue me from life.
Next thing I knew, I was napping 2-3 hours at a time, several days a week. Sometimes even every day in the week.
This habit was no longer good nor healthy.
Not only is too much sleep in some ways just as detrimental to our health as too little sleep, but there were other consequences as well. My productivity was plummeting. I was missing out on truly living; I felt as though I was sleeping my life away.
So back to the aforementioned post from Carla. I knew what habit needed shedding. But as I continued to read the post, I realized that I couldn’t 100% relate.
See, Carla had let go of her habit easily.
Yet I was sitting here, knowing my naps had become a problem, and continuing to take them anyway.
I started to wonder if there was something wrong with me, that I couldn’t just drop the habit like a tree drops its leaves.
But that’s when it hit me: a lot of the time habits become automatic.
After all, the dictionary defines “habit” as “a recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition.” Once a habit is automatic, it becomes a lot more difficult to just shed it without much effort like a tree.
Some habits can be shed quickly and easily, but others take conscious effort to change. Epiphany!
I immediately felt better. And then I looked for a metaphor that might be a little more relatable for me and my experience. I’m not sure why, but finding a fitting metaphor was pretty much just as enjoyable as realizing that I might not be broken after all.
The habits that have become more automatic may have to be shed more like a snake sheds its skin. The snake has to put forth effort to molt, often by rubbing against rocks and rough surfaces to accomplish its task.
I thought I’d be writing this post about how to shed habits that require effort to eliminate. But then I realized there are probably tons of posts and articles out there with habit-changing tips, techniques, and how-tos.
So my real message is this: if you’re struggling to change a habit, know that you are not a failure.
Whether it’s a habit that previously served you or it’s one that’s been less healthy all along, it makes sense that sometimes habits are just going to be really hard to shed.
This is probably the only context in which you’ll hear me say this:
It’s okay to be a snake.
Ashleigh blogs at Passion for Life, Love, and Health. She loves nothing more than getting to encourage people. One habit she has managed to shed is starting over on her weight loss journey again and AGAIN. You can download her new ebook “You’ve Got This! How to Stick to Your Diet: For Now and For Life” if you’re looking to shed that habit too.