Habits

Recently I finished reading the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and couldn’t help but relate it to my life since I am a creature of habit.  I crave the comfort my of habits, routines, and lists.  I confess I do not wish choices or the need to think unless it is a puzzle or captures my interest.  I don’t know why I am like this since I don’t think of anything profound but I recognize this aspect of my personality and accept it.  Every morning I eat my oatmeal and enjoy it like it is my first time experiencing the texture rolling around on my tongue but if I really think about it, it isn’t the flavor but just the need to get the whole breakfast thing out of the way and move on to other things.  Simply fuel the body and move on!  When I heard the author on NPR, I knew I had to read this book in order to understand the power habits have over my life and how they reflect my needs.

According to research described by the author, a habit consists of a three part loop:   a cue, a routine, and finally a reward.  The cue is the trigger that allows the brain to stop dwelling on the subsequent behaviors and go into the automatic “routine” mode.  The resulting reward is what instills that automatic switch but the reward is not always apparent.  Neuroscience has shown that a behavior even moves from the thinking part of the brain (the prefrontal cortex) to the brain location where emotions, memory and patterns develop (the basal ganglia) once a habit forms.

As I read these chapters, I thought of myself and my routine of working out at the gym.  I was never one for exercise but enjoyed various activities.  However once I hit 50, I realized I needed to exercise to stay healthy.  I took up running and working out at the gym.  And slowly I became healthier and fit and looking back, I know I became a bit obsessed with my body.  I had this optimistic view that I could look like a 20 year old.  This was my reward until the day my butt dropped.  Yes it felt like one day it was toned and the next day it just dropped.  My doctor told me the lack of tone would never return no matter what I did with exercising.  This destroyed my  reward mechanism and I just didn’t want to go to the gym anymore.  I have had to come up with an alternative internal reward and disconnect the view of my body from my health.  I work out to stay healthy and stay away from unrealistic goals now.

What of my rules that Sir has given me?  Are they habits also?  Every morning I am required to text Sir good morning before 8:35.  I have a timer set on my phone to alert me that I need to text.  This is my cue.  Sometimes I text immediately but sometimes I will wait for various reasons.  The routine is sending the text message and my reward is Sir’s acknowledgment.  Sir is not required to text back but not knowing if he will reaffirms that this is a reward and not part of the routine.

But do I perform this ritual without thinking or do I actively contemplate it each morning?  I confess that some mornings it does revert to a habit and I send off the text without much forethought.  But most mornings I am totally engaged in sending that text … I actually contemplate not sending it some days and internally test the control he has over me from afar.  This complete set of behaviors has tremendous meaning to me each morning and I wonder how it could possibly be considered a habit and yet it feels like a habit.  Additionally, if my rule is defined as a habit, it lessens some of that meaning and control that Sir exerts over me even though we are apart.

It doesn’t much matter since I will be obedient and follow the rule but I am a curious person and I wonder if those neuroscientists ever considered if my actions could be switching from one part of my brain to the other or involving both areas?  Perhaps my rules are actually “thinking-habits”?   In following the rules, I do not wish the actions to become meaningless habits and that question to myself “Do I send this text?” every morning ensures meaning remains.

How do habits relate to my needs?  I crave this kind of structure that ritualized behavior provides me and as I look at my typical day, it could be viewed as a succession of habits but not to the point of becoming a detriment to my life.  But I believe the control habits exert was one of my coping skills prior to meeting Sir.  Habits could be viewed as an external control of my activities since I don’t want to think about what I am doing.  But in following Sir’s rules, I want to be actively thinking, feel that external control and acknowledge my obedience.

And now I see that ABC has a new show called Mindgames that uses the power of cues and subsequent behavior to solve characters problems.  Interesting.

About bonimiss

bonimiss only found her kinky side in her early 50s and thankfully found Sir shortly after. She is is a long distance journey with Sir and is constantly amazed at the new and exciting experiences and discoveries. You can contact her at bonimiss through the Submissive Guide Community.
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