Looking Closely at Habits

I spent the last few weeks looking at a habit. I wanted to see where this new habit came from. Well, I knew where it came from. It came from my need or desire to escape the things that were bothering me. What I really wanted to know was what I was escaping. And it turns out that opening that particular bag was like opening a “bag of holding,” there was far more in there than I realized.

In 2011, I was working on my BA degree. I was studying healing from trauma. (I think I spent more time healing myself than anything else with that degree.) One of the books I looked at was Writing to Heal by James Pennebaker. The first exercise I did said to choose a memory that you wanted to write about. I chose one that I thought was a little traumatic but not overly so. It was a memory from when I was five years old. It was a memory that I had always associated with feeling lost.

When I started to write about the memory, it was like opening that bag of holding I spoke of earlier. There was far more pain involved with that memory than I had previously thought. It was the topic of my therapy sessions for several weeks.

The point I am trying to make is that by looking at this habit of escaping, I found a rabbit warren within that bag of holding. The paths that I went down were illuminating of many things. The biggest one was that it was a way to escape from what I really wanted to do, but was afraid of succeeding at. I am not sure how much sense that makes even now, however, I took a hiatus from everything I was doing and tried to better understand what was going on.

And what I found was, that my desire to escape into a computer game was equal to how much I was trying to accomplish. The more I wrote, the more I wanted to put off writing and escape. I do enjoy playing that game. I was also starting to feel captive in the game. It was a good way for me to burn time and to listen to books at the same time. I try to be doing something if I am listening to a book. If my hands aren’t busy, my mind wanders off and I stop listening. With that in mind, whenever I look at a quilt I made, or game I was playing, I remember the entire book.

I have realized that when there is nothing that I am trying to avoid I have no interest in playing the game, it is only when I am trying to escape that I play the game. I moved the game into the reward section of my life. When I get all the work I need to get done for the day I can play. This is day two. So far I have been busy checking off the things on my list. I’ll see how interested in the game I am when there is nothing to avoid because everything is finished.


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