Habitual Behaviour

man-brushing-teethI am staying with my sister in south-west France. I go there fairly often and so have a small selection of toiletries left at her house. This includes a toothbrush. Now I was brushing my teeth yesterday when a thought occurred to me. (Bear with me, this setup is quite important.)

I realised that even though on this occasion I had brought my electric toothbrush with me I had not pressed the little button to make it work and was brushing my teeth manually as I normally did there  because the stuff that I leave at her house does not include an electric toothbrush. I realised that my behaviour was situationally dependent. Even with a simple task like brushing my teeth I was doing what I normally did in that environment. (BTW – the photo is not me, I’m much better looking! 🙂 )

Our context or environment influences our behaviour in all sorts of ways. Actually the reason I was at my sisters was to attend a funeral; at funerals we tend to wear black and be a bit sombre; in libraries, we tend to be quiet; for work we tend to wear sober suits; in pubs we tend to go for an alcoholic rather than non-alcoholic drink – and I am sure that there are lots of other circumstances where our context triggers habitual behaviours.

So, my personal development challenge to you is to notice and observe these habitual behaviours then consider the implications and what might happen if you choose to behave differently in that context. I will be interested to hear your reports.

3 Responses to “Habitual Behaviour”

  • JanC:

    That context creates experience?
    What am I doing here?

  • Is it due to a combination of being on autopilot and so taking cues from the environment? Finding yourself doing such a thing, should fire your conscious into action and encourage you to be more in the present. Practise being more aware of whatever you are doing.

    • Geoff Roberts:

      Hi Peter,
      I agree with your thought about ‘autopilot’. We use autopilot so often because it is helpful and eases our way through many situations without having to think about them; those habits are very valuable. However, as you suggest, bringing our behaviour (and/or our environment) into conscious awareness is no bad thing every now and then as it opens the possibility of learning new and maybe better ways of doing things.
      There is a lovely exercise which I sometimes us in our trainings in which we ask the participant to ‘just stop’ what they are doing and then ask them to pay deep attention to what they are sensing, one sense at a time… “What is the smallest thing you can see? What is the furthest sound you can hear? What doe your shirt feel like on your skin?…” that sort if stuff can be very revealing?

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