Retraining the brain

I'm getting adjusted to my new apartment in Northern Virginia. It's much bigger than my old studio in Baltimore, although I have to say the studio make very efficient use of space. I can't wait to use the real, wood-burning fireplace. I love the fan in the bedroom.

The deadbolt on the door, however, is driving me nuts.

When I moved to Baltimore a year ago, the deadbolt on the door was backwards. You know the traditional "lefty loosey, righty tighty" that they say? Well this lock didn't work that way. It was "lefty lockey, righty....open-ey?" After a week or two, I figured it out and that was that.

Now, however, my deadbolt is back to the standard lefty-loosey deal. It takes me several tries to lock the door in the morning (which likely isn't aided by my immediate post-sleep, pre-third cup of coffee stupor). I have to take a few seconds when locking the door and think "lefty lockey....wait no. Lefty loosey, righty tighty. Right? Yes? No? Yes."

My old psychiatrist said that habits were like rolling a ball down a pile of sand. The ball will create a groove, then a deeply engrained track. Eventually, if you place the ball at the top of the pile, it will "automatically" find the track and roll down. The path of least resistance. Think the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon. Is it likely the Colorado is going to pick a different path anytime soon?

Hardly.

In order to create a new track, you have to be more deliberate. Make sure the ball doesn't roll down the old path. You might have to help the ball along. The ball might very well roll down the old path again. But eventually a new track will be created and the old path will atrophy, fill in a bit with sand.

It might never go away completely. The ball will likely always find it easier to go down the old path than to create a third path.

It takes me less and less time each morning to figure out the dang deadbolt, which way to turn my key, which way to lock my door. Soon enough, it will become second nature. Until then, I use my silly mnemonics and hope for the best.

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3 comments:

licketysplit said...

hm...well i guess that makes me S.O.L. cuz we have multiple locks at work and they go both ways and i can never remember which is which...lol, jk, i DID catch the metaphor there ;)

Carrie Arnold said...

I've also stood in front of my door with my car clicker and wondered why the damn thing wasn't opening. :)

elizabeth said...

I just wanted to say that i love your blog. I am always so happy when you post something new. It is always refreshing, and thoughtfull, and honest. thank you for sharing yourself with the internet world.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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