Tougher than Fiction: Why Habits Are Hard to Break
October 1, 2014 § Leave a comment
Today I asked some of you on twitter to tell me what some of your worst fangirl habits were. Here are some of the responses:
- Watching TV instead of doing my work.
- Daydreaming about my OTP when out with friends. Also excusing myself early to be back online.
- Compulsively reloading tumblr and tracked tags I know damn well have no new content.
- Letting post TV hangovers affect my work life the next day.
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone! The fangirl brain, or any brain, loves to conserve energy. So if we do anything over and over again, that action will eventually shift to autopilot. Our behaviors tag along behind where we choose to place our attention, so it’s no wonder that we get stuck. What hope is there for us to ever any of our personal goals or change our daily habits?
As fangirls, we see transformation happen over and over again in our favorite TV shows, books, and movies. A villain is confronted with the error of his ways, and he starts leading a better life. An addict hits rock bottom and has nowhere to go but up. Half of an OTP realizes she’s been shutting people out her entire life and finally reaches for love. Change is romantic, sudden, and powerful, isn’t it?
Wrong! In real life, change is slow, small, and often a struggle. So if you think staring at a BAMF screencap, reading an inspirational quote, or guilting yourself into a different behavior is enough to do the heavy lifting, think again.
Learning new behaviors takes practice. Just like writing really good smutfic takes time, patience, and poor vocabulary choices. So if you want to start living a different kind of life, here are a few tips for you. Luckily the fangirl already has most of these skills at her disposal!
Step 1. Reroute those neurons. Think about the change you want to make. Write it down in a journal. Write it on a piece of paper and stick it in your sock drawer. Write it on a screencap of Lana Parrilla and save it on your desktop. Tell yourself what’s going to happen. For example, “When I feel like not going to bed on time, I’m going to turn off my computer.” Say it again. Say it in the mirror. Text it to a friend. Write a letter to your grandma for godsakes, who doesn’t love mail?
Step 2. Headcanon that shit. Imagine how you’re going to do this. Think about all the crap that’s going to stand in your way and how you’re going to fly over those hurdles like a motherfucking BAMF and how wonderful it’s going to feel. Visualizing yourself bobbing and weaving around the temptations of life is powerful.
Step 3. Simulate creys. Put yourself in situations (safe ones!) where you need to enact the behavior. Go through the motions, and pay attention to how it makes you feel. Keep practicing, and keep repeating steps 1 and 2.
To try this out, I suggest you pick a small change, like not checking your tumblr activity compulsively or making your bed every day. Remember, character transformation may be more romantic in fiction, but it’s way BAMFier in the real world. So have at it, lady.