Lately I’m all about the self-help books. I recently finished a book about forming habits. Our habits play a big role in how we are perceived by others and our quality of life. Bad habits are just a part of life that we either continue doing or try to overcome. I learned all of this in a book called “Making Habits, Breaking Habits,” and while it’s not the best beach read, I did learn a lot about the psychology of forming and breaking habits. The book made me want to develop new habits, like reading every night and drinking a glass of water between alcoholic beverages. It also inspired me to break bad habits like overspending, overeating, forgetting to proofread my blog posts, and blowing homeless dudes. HA. Just wanted to make sure I have your attention. I’m not a psychologist…but I do know that the key to making habits and breaking habits is repeating them (or gradually wading off of them). Once something is repeated a certain number of times it becomes habitual. It just takes a lot of persistence and willpower, and sometimes, if the habit is sucking your thumb, all it takes is time…
Most childhoods are characterized by one or more habits – nail-biting, lip smacking, smoking, thumb-sucking. Mine were the latter two. Even if you knew me in pre-k or kindergarten, we probably never talked because I had my thumb in my mouth and probably didn’t care to talk to you anyway. In the beginning, my thumb sucking wasn’t a concern of my parent’s; in fact, I think it may have made them love me even more. Like “Aww she’s just a little baby, she’ll eventually grow out of this.” But not me. I’m not like other babies. While the average toddler loses interest in their thumb around the age of 5, I was still actively and frequently sucking in first grade. I learned how to be a pretty average student without giving up my favorite finger. I could write with my thumb in my mouth, I could read (to myself) with my thumb in my mouth, I could watch Arthur with my thumb in my mouth. The only thing I could not do with my thumb in my mouth was eat. I tried several times.
First grade ended and my thumb sucking continued. I began to realize that maybe I was getting a little too old to be sucking my thumb, but like I said earlier, habits are hard to break. I started to hide under blankets. My parents grew even more concerned. My parents feared for my future. “She’ll never be prom queen with her thumb in her mouth,” they said. Months turned to years and by the time I was learning fractions my habit had yet to be eradicated. sucking my thumb. Seeing no sign of me stopping, my parents decided take very drastic measures. They decided to take matters into their own hands, or in this case, thumbs. Sorry.
They employed some pretty harsh methods to get me to stop: nail polish that was probably poisonous(still sucked my thumb.) I went through thumb braces like Taylor Swift goes through boyfriends. I eventually came to the much much overdue realization that I was no longer a child, and if I ever wanted to be taken seriously as a violinist I would have to quit. So it all came full circle: I broke a habit and started a new one. Sidenote: I played the violin for two years until I realized I really hate the violin.
Bottom line: if you put your mind to it, you can make and break habits. It may take a few tries, but as long as you keep trying, there’s a solid chance you’ll get there. Check out my ted talk in 10 years on this inspiring story of strength and perseverance.