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The Familiar and the Habitual

“The familiar and the habitual are so falsely reassuring, and most of us make our homes there permanently.” – Richard Rohr, Falling Upward

We all find comfort in the familiar, whether a favorite chair to sit in or your morning coffee routine, the people we hang our with or the way we greet them. We embrace it and make it our own, and rarely deviate from it. This is the nature of the familiar and the habitual.

How many of us stick with things just because it’s the way we’ve always done them? Familiar is strangely comforting, even if it doesn’t benefit us. This is the way we’ve always done it. Humans evolved by mitigating risk by sticking to tried, true and trusted. Those who were foolhardy didn’t survive to dilute the gene pool. When the risk is deeply programmed into your identity, it doesn’t matter if it’s bad for you or not – it’s falsely reassuring and part of you. We all know smoking and overeating are bad for you, but how many do it subconsciously, risk and viable alternatives ignored?

With everyone’s routine disrupted over the last year, it’s interesting to see how people react to going back to the way things used to be. Do you want to commute to a cubicle farm chipping away at your tasks, all while trying to ignore the screams inside you again? Return to the same old ways, or pivot to something new? How resilient were some of those routines and rituals in the face of a pandemic?

It’s easy to embrace anchors in our lives – homes, relationships, jobs, and routines, and hard to question that which we’ve always known to be true. But ultimately the only true anchor is our self. None of this is permanent. Forget anchors: embrace sails. Embrace change. For change happens around us whether we want it to or not.

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