The Habit of Being

by P. Braithwaite

I have this habit of experiencing a thing, finding the lesson in that thing, and then thinking I will never have to experience the same thing again.

This is clearly flawed thinking.

When I first started becoming a better steward of my finances, I experienced a series of setbacks. No matter how many books I read or spreadsheets I created, I found myself over drafting. I had over $300 in overdraft fees within two months of tracking my spending.

I was embarrassed and discouraged and frustrated. How can I know all the right things, follow the right steps and still f*ck up so royally? That question can probably, at one point or another, be applied to every aspect of life. Just because we acquire knowledge about something, doesn’t mean we’ve “conquered” it. Just because we’re able to manage our addictions (spending, gossiping, eating etc), doesn’t mean they’ve vanished. We are all, perpetually, recovering from old habits and bad ideas.

Despite this awareness, I persist in thinking that once I’ve found the insight I’m done. No matter how many times I’ve been proven wrong, I always think: ah! Got it! I can cross that off my list. It seems that the first part of this year has been all about revisiting old lessons and going deeper. Most days I feel like I’m sticking my fingers in old wounds and pulling out lodged bullets.

Sounds super fun, doesn’t it?

It seems the universe wants me to revisit the concept of forgiveness. AGAIN. Those of you that have read my blog for a while might remember my forgiveness challenge which resulted in a lot of really awesome realizations about forgiveness. And yet, here I am six months later trying to forgive and heal my heart. It sucks. I’m tired of feeling and dealing and healing all over the place. Yet I know that life involves a constant unfolding and deepening. The relationship that I had with forgiveness is not the same one I have right now. The post I wrote about surrender last Easter is not the same post I would write today. Life is a spiral staircase — a cyclical journey. Whether higher or deeper, there is always someplace else to go.

In my Foundations of Life Coaching class, we’ve been discussing how the brain works. Here’s what I’ve learned thus far: Each time we do something we reinforce neurological pathways –this is how habits are formed. Each time we repeat an action, it becomes a bit more engrained. The habit becomes a little bit easier to do and a little bit harder to break. This is why changes — from dieting, to drugs, to finances –are very hard to sustain. We can’t erase old pathways, we cannot completely undo our old habits, BUT we can create new habits and new pathways. We can create a new habits of being (and doing).

Today, I understand that when life finds me learning “old lessons” and involved in the “same ole situations,” I’m simply being given the opportunity to form new habits, and to strengthen my new neurological pathways. I am being given the opportunity to grow myself — a little more fertilizer, a little more manure. I’m being given the opportunity to solidify and express the highest version of myself.

What new habits are you making and breaking today?