Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Bad Habits

I realized recently that I've been allowing myself to succumb to some very bad habits. No, I'm not talking about my tendency to put promo activities ahead of working out, or the extra glass of wine I had for dinner last night. Those may not be healthy trends, but I'm sure I can call on my self-discipline to help me counteract those developing habits.

The habits I'm talking about are more insidious. They're habits of thought, often negative.

I turned sixty in January. Naturally, that has made me more conscious of my mortality. On the other hand, my age doesn't necessarily imply any specific limits. Yet I find myself thinking these days about cancer, about arthritis, about losing my sight, my hearing or my memory. I expect to get tired. In the past I never worried about this sort of thing, but I've somehow internalized the mistaken notion that just because I'm older, my body and mind are deteriorating.

In fact, in some ways I'm healthier than I've ever been, especially emotionally. I love my work and my home and my life and my husband. The insecurities and dissatisfaction that plagued me when I was younger have largely evaporated. I know I'm talented and that I'm blessed.

I've got to fight the mental habit of thinking of myself as "old". I have a ninety-one year old aunt, and she's going strong, and another who's in her eighties and still working as a judge and a mediator and teaching law. The only constraints I face are self-imposed.

Then there are the negative notions I have about my writing. I've blogged about these before - the notion that I'll never have a best-seller, that my work doesn't appeal to the masses, or that I just can't market my work because I refuse, for privacy reasons, to do Facebook or Twitter promotion.

Nonsense.

Not all my bad habits are self-deprecating. I've become aware that in certain ways, I'm arrogant and smug, too. For instance, when I read a book by a fellow author that has problems, I find myself gloating a bit (privately of course), knowing I'm a better writer. That's no healthier than believing myself to be destined to failure in my writing career. (Oddly, I seem capable of holding both thoughts at the same time.)

I believe that we can choose our thoughts and our emotions, to a very large extent. I'm trying to consciously reverse these habitual patterns of thought when I catch myself indulging. They're destructive. And negative thoughts can be self-fulfilling.

Awareness is the first step. Then comes action.


And now, it's off to the gym!

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