I had a client in my office a couple of weeks ago. She is struggling with her weight. If she goes to a buffet restaurant, she knows she’ll over eat. Why? She said, “because that’s the way it always is.” Really? This is one phrase that, when someone says it, always hits me in the face and begs to be explored. And, whenever someone says this phrase, they always sound sad or defeated – like they have no control over what’s happening. So, I explored it with her.
As long as she remembers, whenever she went to a buffet, she always gorged herself on food. Unlike most people, she enjoys the feeling of being stuffed. This is the way it is for her “because that’s the way it always is.” Her current coping method is to avoid buffets. One thing we are working together on is changing from “because that’s the way it always is” to “just because it’s always been that way, doesn’t mean it always has to be that way.”
When I googled the phrase “just because it’s always been that way” it found a Demotivator poster that I think is appropriate. The poster reads: Tradition: Just because you’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean it isn’t incredibly stupid.
I try hard to not be a negative person. This poster, though, gets the point across better than anything I can say. Just because something has always been done a certain way, doesn’t mean it is: 1) right or 2) always has to continue to be done that way.
Do you face the “because it’s always been that way” issue with food? Do you hear yourself say, “I’ll always over eat at parties because it’s always been that way”? Or, “I just can’t avoid the cookies in the snack bar.” Or, “I can’t pass by Wanda’s desk without taking some candy out of her jar.”
These are all habits - the “because it’s always. . . . ” – things. And, the good news is HABITS CAN BE CHANGED! YEA!
What do you do? The next time you find yourself doing something “because it’s always. . . ” or “because I always. . . ” stop and ask yourself a few questions:
- Is this helping me achieve my goals?
- Is this the right thing to do?
- Is this something I’ve always done?
- Why am I doing this? What positive do I get from this?
- What other choices do I have?
The first thing to do when changing a habit is to be aware of what you’re doing. It takes time. Don’t beat yourself up when you miss recognizing a “because it’s always. . .. ” choice. If you catch yourself after the fact, still make a note and ask yourself the same questions. Once you start being aware of what you’re doing and that there are other options, you can start changing the “because it’s always. . . .” into something new.
Remember: just because it’s always been that way, or you’ve always done it that way DOESN’T mean you have to continue doing it that way.