The Power of Rituals

The amount of time that I wait before writing another blog post exponentially impacts my potential for sitting down and writing.  After having not written anything for nearly a month for this blog, I’ve sort of lost my mojo and writing this now, no matter now passionately I feel about the subject… feels like I’m wading through drying cement.

Rituals are a powerful thing.  May they be your morning routine, how you celebrate your birthday every year, how you respond to conflict, or what you do to psych yourself up for speaking in public.  There’s a tempo that I think we all create that creates comfort in a whole different dimension than what the actual surroundings are.  You might be terrified of meeting new people at a party, but there’s a ritual that you’ve developed with a joke about your name or your profession.  There’s a ritual that you and the other person has agreed to- that you shake hands, or hug, or smile.  In an environment that is constantly changing, ritual gives us comfort and direction.

I find rituals to be really interesting because they tend to become truth for people. I remember in 5th grade that I wore makeup so heavily and so often that my best friend dared me to not wear makeup for a single day… and I couldn’t take the dare.  I had actually become trapped in wearing the makeup, not only because of my own self perceptions and identity based in the makeup, but trapped in others expectations of me after wearing makeup so consistently.

As a recent example, my mom’s side of our family has created and maintained the ritual that everyone in our family is always late.  We’ve practiced saying this and being late to prove it for so long that we’ve assumed that it’s true… that we are, and always will be late to every event. In fact, we’ve often scheduled family events early to try to curb it.  I found myself making poor time management decisions when I was going to visit my family because I knew that they would be late and expected that I’d be late.  I’d decide that I totally had the time to make that cake beforehand, or that I could do another load of laundry before leaving to meet them.  I indeed, always showed up late, as expected.   I was relating to “I’m always late” as the truth and thus lived into that reality.  When I tried to stop this ritual for myself and show up on time, it needed to be a conscious effort every time.  Not only this, but I’ve needed to show up on time a LOT to make a dent in this assumption that my family had of me, and that I had of myself.  I know that I went for a full year without tardiness to a single event and my family still related to me as being late.  It takes time, patience, and effort… and it also takes me speaking up that I’m creating a new ritual. By reminding my family (and myself) that I’m actually not being late, or that I am working on it, we’ve all got our eyes on other possibilities occurring.

Like the groove in a couch where my butt sits every time.  Like the webpages I automatically open when I start my computer.  Like how I suddenly realize that it’s my transit stop and I don’t even remember getting on the bus.  Like the sun bleaching something… I didn’t even realize what’s changed after having done this ritual for so long.

As I am (yes still) winding down my job with Cafe Gratitude after five years of ritual in going to the office, I’m having a little bit of panic and a little bit of relief in the loss of this ritual and the creation of something new.

If I don’t train myself in my desired new routine, then it will likely not stick.
I am working out a list of things that I want to accomplish on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, and what sort of rituals I can take up and practice to follow through on them.  Some immediate things that I know I can take on are yoga, experimental crafting, writing, walking, wheatrass growing/drinking, experimental cooking, flossing, listening to NPR, production for my business, going to social events, and reading.  Some rituals that I know that I’d rather give up are: daily coffee, web browsing in bed, saying “no” when people invite me to things outside my comfort zone, being combative with my sweetie, performing a femme gender role all the time, and leaving my things wherever I please around the house when I come home.

Let’s start here with writing more, and I’ll meet you here again before next week.

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