A Minute to Myself (102)
A Minute to Myself (103)

Why Are Bad Habits Bad?

First off, let me explain that I am not talking about seriously bad habits, just run-of-the-mill bad habits. The kind that we develop as children and never seem to leave us, or which we never let leave us.

If I want to pick at the hardened skin around my left hand middle finger (I write with my left hand) then I think I should be able to so without well-meaning people pushing my hand away. I have passed the age of majority and so should not have my mother try to stop me from pick pick picking. Certainly the man I met for coffee the other day should have learned to never, ever infringe upon a person’s right to her stress-relief habits. Is it really hurting your poor heart that I am hurting myself? For goodness sakes, I have ugly fingers anyway, so who cares if they are even less attractive? And it’s not as if I am really hurting myself, the skin grows back, the nerves stay relatively even-keeled, so what’s the problem?

What’s with the holier-than-thou attitude? Don’t we all need a small bad habit? It’s not like a take a knife to my arm or drink a barrelful of beer, I twirl my hair and pick my fingers. Considering the status of my life, I would say that I’m in pretty good shape with my bad habits. Even eating, which I need to curb, is not so bad. While I might indulge in second servings too often, it’s not as if I have ever finished a cake or box of cookies on my own—at least not in one sitting or in one day.

Why are bad habits called bad? Shouldn’t we rename them and simply call them habits? What’s a habit for anyway? It enables your mind to lose its focus or find its focus, whichever you need at that time, without calling attention to the thought process. It’s like white noise, it’s there somehow soothing you without you even realizing it; so why fight it? Does it comfort me or keep me level? Does it enable me to compartmentalize my mind, where the nerves are relegated to being simply soothed while the thoughts are pondered?

And what would I do instead? Because I don’t think that I would suddenly become a pillar of stillness, I am, after all, a kinesthetic learner (a fidgeter to the jargonless), which means I would just find a replacement habit. What could I do instead? I can’t even think of anything. Oh, I know, I could pick at the dry skin on my lips. No, even less attractive. I could develop an itch that needs to be scratched. I could doodle. (Been there, but it just didn’t have staying power for me.) See, I have no imagination here. I need to stay with my tried and true bad habits.

Maybe there are people who don’t need bad habits, or whose bad habits don’t involve a degree of self-mutilation. Maybe they watch too much tv, or shop too much, or curse too much. Who knows? Maybe some people need to tell other people that their habits are bad. Me, I’m of the “you leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone” type. So don’t come by to criticize me, I can do that pretty well on my own. And I promise I won’t ask why you have six packs of gum in your bag, or why you are playing with your keys on your keyring, or why you have a stack of papers growing on your floor.



I'm a fidgeter too - a fidgeter with eczema. I'm sure you can imagine sitting by a squirming, wiggly person who becomes itchy whenever the heat or air changes and all the comments that come when the increased fidgeting increases. Ack.

Your habits don't sound all that bad. You're doing remarkably well with the cake. I am sure that any event involving the presence of your Ex would have allowed me to finish a whole one by myself.

Laura of Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman

Christine, Wouldn't it be great if you could channel "mind your own business" and people got it.

I am really trying to resist finding my only comfort in food. Luckily the keyboard keeps my fingers busy, interferring with my snacking ability.

By the way, my brother has excema and after his visit to the Dead Sea a while back he said that it cleared up for a few years.


Well, my new "habit" seems to be the internet and I don't find it bad at all. I agree, people should you alone. Your fidgeting seems mild. As I get older, I find I have an impatience for things (pens, pencils, fingers) drumming on the students' desks when i am giving instructions.


Ditto, I peel fingers too.
If they pay attention to your fidgeting, they don't pay attention to who you are being or what you are saying.

Great way to select *judging* people and shoo them on their way.
If they judge habits as bad, then they have no business to be in your life. I reckon.


This is a little off topic but related. I once found myself (long story) on a coed softball team that was comprised of a bunch of ex-AA people (my friend and I who were talked into joining the team weren't and ended up regretting our decision to join the team. It wasn't the most fun bunch of people). Anyway, they all smoked and drank coffee. It dawned on me that bad habits are relative. To the ex-alcoholics and former substance abusers, smoking was something they needed but paled in comparison to their previous "bad habits."

Laura of Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman

phhhst, some students told me that they purposely clicked their pens because they knew it drove me mad. Now, since I teach three co-taught classes, we have a variety of "kinesthetic learning devices" so I need to focus as they fidget with porcupine balls. And then my co-teacher teaches while playing with one. In that environment, I am the smooth sailor.

Wilma, I agree. My life is certainly not a zone for people who think that they have no bad habits.

JC, maybe they need to be weaned from worst bad habit, to bad bad habit, to bad habit, to INTERNET habit. Addictive personalities can't change who they are, just how they express it. So what did the jersey say on it? AA+2


I seriously have a hard time understanding why people feel so compelled to tell others that they shouldn't do something, such as what your talking about. I can not stand nic picking. I know that I have my own "habit's whether they be bad or not is really not anyone else's business just as their "habit's" are none of my business. I have enough in my own life to worry about then someone else's habits, whether those habit's are good for them or not.

One of the so called bad habits that I have is, I have to sleep with a fan. I need the sound to sleep and I love the air blowing on me. Yes, I live in the land of cold(Minnesota) but I have a fan 12 months of the year. This bothers the crap out of some people. So much so that they feel compelled to tell me ways to stop this habit. It's fine with them as long as it's hot here but once it's cold, it's an issue for them. I don't get it. They don't sleep with me. They don't pay my electric bills. The only person that should have an opinion in the matter is the one person that does sleep with me and that is my husband. When we started dating, he passed the test to go to the next level with me, with not caring about the fan issue...lol. Now I have him "addicted" to it and sleeps with it even when I am not here.

I say keep your bad habits until you want to be done with them!

Midlife Slices

I think people like to point out "bad habits" because it makes them nervous, especially when they think you are hurting yourself. I guess they think if they tell you to stop, they've done something to help you. When my husband tells me to stop beating myself up or stop being insecure I always tell him that's like telling someone with cancer to "get over it." I don't think your "bad habits" sound so bad and if it gets you through all this shit you're going through right now, then by all means.....keep on doing it. Someday when you don't have to have contact with your ex, you might suddenly realize you aren't doing it anymore. I hope "someday" comes sooner rather than later for you.

Laura of Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman

Lori, speaking of people coming into your bedroom! How can people barge in on your privacy like that? I need a window open and generally have one bare foot peeking out from under the covers. I never thought of those as habits, just my "sleep routine." I'm thinking of trading in peeling my dead skin for findering the beautiful jade charm that I buy myself when I get out of this house. And it won't be from the money he owes me, that will go to the girls' education, I don't want tainted jade.

MS, I keep thinking that people think I need to be perfect, but I like your idea better that they think I will inflict too much harm on myself. Your husband sounds like my mother, at least on this one issue.

The wishing/hoping/intending well keeps filling with caring words visualizing that SOLD sign.


"So what did the jersey say on it? AA+2?"

We were like the Bad News Bears and did not have jerseys. We won a total of 1 game for the season. (When we finally won a game, I could hear the theme from "Chariots of Fire" in the background as we jumped up and down and hugged each other as if we'd won the World Series. It was sad.)

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