Chapter 1:Change One small Habit

This morning I woke up later than usual. Most mornings I wake up at 7:30, but today I woke up at 8:00. I need to get to work at 9:00, and I couldn’t believe, that I overslept. What’s wrong with me, I thought. I didn’t feel like being a Case Manager, making clients process, or seeing any of them today. Besides, I couldn’t think of anything to wear.

I became a Case Manager partly because I like helping people. Also, I figured that no one cares about the clothes I wear. But here I was at 8:05 wondering if I should wear blue eye-shadow or pink since my outfit had both colors. Deciding to wear pink at 8:30, I jumped in the car and headed toward I-70. As I changed lanes I played a positive confession tape and listened to these words, “Change comes from the inside of you.” I wondered, what I needed to change about myself.

My inspiration for this change in my life came through my office door at 10:00. As Trudy, my client yelled, “Hey, Ms. Janiese I need your help. Yesterday, I saw an old friend I did drugs with a year ago, and I felt tempted to do drugs again. See my mouth–no teeth. I lost all of my teeth doing drugs.” I asked Trudy, “If you could change one small habit what would it be?” She smiled, “I’d get me some new teeth, and get some backbone to say no.”

There’s a book called, The Power of Habit, Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business, by investigative journalist and New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg. Duhigg points out that cues make the trigger unfold. The routine kicks in and a person could end up doing what they don’t want to do. Now he gave example about him going to the cafeteria everyday eating a cookie. Duhigg example is a walk in the park compared to what I see and hear.
Even though my clients are homeless, ex drug addicts, ex prostitutes, etc. I enjoyed this book. Duhigg feels that new habits can become “keystones.” I agree with him, but it’s hard teaching my clients how to develop new habits when all they know are bad habits. If I took a poll my clients would say that they did drugs because it was taught or given to them at an early age. They repeated it over and over again until they were hooked. How can we change one small habit?

In trying to change my habit of being late, I’ve had to set my alarm two hours early so that I can arrive to work on time. I’ve known for years that my staying up late at night would finally catch up with me-resulted in me being late all of the time. Duhigg says its a struggle between reward and reason. I’m going to say that sin is a very nasty habit that develops in our life, and its hard to get rid of. At my job, we teach our women how to deal with stress, anxiety, loss and grief. Many of them attend groups, see a therapist and a case manager on a daily basis.

Many of us have bad habits, and its easy to look down on others that are different than we are. In fact, we may compare our habits with someone else and say, “I’m glad I don’t do what they do.” But the fact of the matter is everyone has a habit whether good or bad-we all have something. Many of our bad habits come from not being informed as a result of us doing what we feel is right. Just because it feels good it doesn’t make it right. I told my client Trudy that change comes when she realizes that she isn’t perfect, and when she learns to know herself. Meaning she needs to recognize her triggers when they come, and break the cycle. In other words, resist the temptation. The Bible tells us to, “Submit ourselves to God. Resist the devil and he shall flee.” Due to the fact, that I don’t work at a Christian organization I can’t speak about God not unless the client opens the door.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg (Photo credit: bubbletea1)

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