Sunday, 4 June 2017

On 19:55 by Victoria Stanham in , , , ,    No comments


The Blessing and the Curse of Movement Habits

Habits are learned and stereotyped responses: set movements that once triggered get replayed verbatim regardless of context or appropriateness.

Habits are necessary; they save us from wasting time and energy in preparing new responses to the ever-changing, kaleidoscopic circumstances we exist in. Habits allow us to anticipate changes and be ready to respond accordingly.

And herein lays their problem.

Some of my now set-responses were originally new responses. They were successful responses at the time, so I chose to repeat them again and again, each new success convincing my system that this was a real keeper. Since it appeared like I’d be using these patterns repeatedly, I let them fall into my subconscious so they could become my automatic responses in all similar situations. The habituation of certain responses was a smart time and energy saving strategy.

Once a response becomes automatic I stop consciously observing and calibrating its efficiency (and sometimes even its effectiveness) vis-à-vis my ever-changing circumstances. What began as a good idea, a clever response, or a quick fix to a specific event, has morphed into the be-all-and-end-all of my response repertoire. The habit has become embedded in my neural repertoire in the form of trigger-happy synapses. The constant repetition of certain movements shape my body according to their logic; I embody my habits with my muscles, my bones and all my connective tissues.

These automatic responses thus become not only the hidden framework upon which I build my actions, reactions, and routines, but also upon which my shape is modelled and portrayed to the world. As the world responds and reacts to my self-projection, I receive feedback that confirms this is who I am, and voilà my self-definition begins to get set.

Moveo ergo sum. I move, therefore I am.

Hidden becomes the key word here. As the saying goes: out of sight, out of mind. Automatism makes me blind to my habits, I become dominated by them, I start confusing them with my self-definition: this is the way I do things. The problem with my habits is that they limit my freedom of choice, they default me to act always in the same way, whether I want to or not.

Can I be any other way?

I want to believe so. The framework of my habits is hidden only as long as I don’t start the process of discovering and uncovering them. My habits are the only option until I realize there are other options. I could perhaps learn to choose and build new responses...


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