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Restrictions have eased, but I am resisting—kicking and screaming back out into that busy world.
It seems I certainly am not the only one who dropped their marbles temporarily all over the floor and had a tantrum that my liberties had been deprived when COVID arrived.
How could it be that now, in my country of Australia, at least, as restrictions ease, I’m still holed up in my house clinging to this, my strange new normal?
As I talk to clients (I’m a psychologist and well-being coach) still mostly online, we laugh with incredulity comparing notes on resistance to rejoining the outside world.
It seems to span from “I get so much more work done staying at home,” to “Working in my pyjamas and not having to commute just makes more sense,” to “I’m saving so much phantom money—the ghost money who walks from my wallet in plain sight every day in the outer world,” and “I’m just calmer not running here, there, and everywhere out of habit rather than necessity.”
We are funny creatures, us humans. We crave autonomy, freedom, and democracy, but when we have it, we are also overwhelmed by choice, chaos, and noise.
It’s not until we are forced (aka a pandemic) to slow down to the pace our savings account usually grows at that we realise how much harm the pace of freedom was causing. We went, we bought, we felt obligated, we burnt the candle at both ends because we could—give me my liberty. Now you can’t force me to come out and return to my office, my car, my commute, my spending—give me my new liberty. Are we ever satisfied?
This, my holed up friends, is a response to change firstly, and then a “bloody great awakening” to habitual behaviour. So many folks say, “Oh, I don’t do change. I like to be in control and know what’s coming next.” The process of change means we rail against it—either adapt to it or move away from it—and this of course is change in itself, to adapt to or move away.
Therefore, one would think we will come out of this pandemic thing with a new sense of ourselves and our capacity to cope with change, especially that which is outside of our control (which, by the way, the vast majority of life is—death, taxes, speed cameras, adult children’s partner choices).
Then there is the small matter of the “bloody great awakening,” the inspection of habitual behaviours like buying coffee every day, shopping every Saturday, or eating out because there’s nothing in the fridge. So when you truly couldn’t go out to buy coffee, you made it at home; you culled your wardrobe instead of shopping for more to cram in; you painted the lounge room instead getting your nails painted; you cooked tacos instead of driving across town to that cute little Mexican restaurant.
It goes to show, habits can be broken when there is no choice. Habits are just that something we do, say, be that we are invested in and are choosing not to be conscious about. Habits are so breakable when you stop, notice the thinking, the actions, and the need the habit is filling for you.
Maybe it’s loneliness, the trip to the shopping centre every Saturday, or the fact that the nails being painted is the only physical touch and pampering you allow yourself. Don’t get me wrong: if the habit when you see it for what it is is serving you a purpose and you are happy with that, go hard my friend, go hard.
However, if the habit is a money drainer, an energy drainer, the cause of relationship friction, a weight gainer, or a lung and or liver killer, then I think you now know it is possible to curb it or dispense with it altogether and not shrivel in a corner in the funny white jacket with no sleeves as a result of depriving your liberties.
So, let’s all chant together: I love change, change loves me, and habits are merely choices—and I’m in charge of my choices (all in a kindergarten kind of rhyme voice please).