Habituation is human. Our mind, over time, normalizes things that…well…aren’t normal. In my book Wild World, Joyful Heart, I wrote, “We confuse what’s common with what’s normal. It’s easy to confuse common and normal, so we tend to slowly recalibrate our thinking to accommodate what’s common, even if it doesn’t feel good, so that we feel normal.”
This habituation phenomenon can be a handy adaptation tool during extreme challenge (ie: famine, drought, war). But in everyday life, it can lead us to lose sight of how we LIKE to feel. We become habituated to tolerating the status quo. Often to our own detriment.
Let’s explore a benign, everyday example of habituation.
The power’s out
The power goes out in your home. While you likely feel annoyed and inconvenienced, you also start to notice something.
It’s very quiet.
Quiet in a way that we’re not accustomed to in typical modern living. The furnace and A/C are silenced. There’s no TV noise. Absent are the background sounds of the dishwasher, washing machine or dehumidifier. No one’s in the shower. Quiet. Previously, you didn’t realize how much ambient noise is in your living space. Nor did you realize how much your mind is begging for quiet. How these noises create a subtle unnamed stress in your system.
But now. Now, having experienced the quiet, you want to create more of it in your everyday life. You’ve discovered that what you’d habituated to wasn’t okay with you and you feel clear that you want something different, at least some of the time. (Because a washing machine is pretty handy, after all.)
This leads you to create a practice of “quiet snacks.” Creating a new habit where you intentionally spend period of time in the quiet. Unlikely you can do it all the time, but these new periods of quiet help you stay more balanced and less stressed. Bravo!
How habituation gets in our way
This human habituation story has many, many applications and stories. Almost endless. Fifteen years ago when you were out to dinner with your family, everyone was making eye contact and talking. Now, it’s a common sight to see a family at a restaurant all engaged with their smart phone. Common. Maybe not normal. Maybe not healthy, time after time.
Another habituation story is personal health. Slowly, over time, as one straw after another gets added to the camel’s back, we feel less and less good. Our weight climbs, energy wanes, sleep is not restful, our mood is more often cloudy, digestion is off and next thing you know your doctor is telling you you need thyroid medication or a statin drug or Prozac or an antacid drug. And typically, once you start one drug, others follow because drugs themselves create imbalances and symptoms in other parts of the body. (Those red flags are included in the fast talk at the end of a pharmaceutical drug commercial.)
Because this process is gradual, we habituate. And we look around and see others trudging the same path, so it feels normal from that viewpoint as well. We get to a point where that random over-40 person that looks fit, feels good and has zest for life? They’re not normal.
Great news in all that doom-and-gloom: Like the Quiet Snacks, you can create intentionally breaks that bring balance back into your system.
The reason the Body Sass® Cleanse is such a powerful and popular program is you rediscover what it feels like to feel good. It’s the equivalent of the power going out and discovering that you really like some quiet. Toward the end of the Cleanse, you think, “Well, holy MOLY. What felt normal 3 weeks ago now feels decidedly abnormal. If I can feel like this after only THREE WEEKS, what else is possible? How can I keep this going? I’m ready to create a different experience for myself!”
YUP. You’ve woken up. You’ve engaged in a program that de-normalized feeling crappy AND outlined how to support feeling good.
You can learn more about how we become habituated to feeling unhealthy in my FREE training series, starting with the ebook The Insider’s Guide to Health & Weight Loss. Because feeling good…feels good! And the simplicity of how to get there just might surprise you.
To your Empowered Well-Being,