I was given homework at my last osteopath appointment – stop sitting cross legged and get down into a full squat (malasana style) 6 times a day.
I haven’t being doing well on either one of these tasks. But I’ve decided to give them a real try.
To get myself to stop crossing my legs, I’ve decided to approach this like my other habits and:
- Be clear on why I want to change the habit.
- Identify roadblocks to accomplishing my goal.
- Notice the bad habit. Identify the trigger.
- Swap the bad habit with something positive.
- Reward the new good habit.
Why I’m Trying to Change this Bad Habit
The motivation behind this habit change is my overall health and comfort. I’m nearly 30 weeks along in my pregnancy and my hips are getting angrier and angrier. And I know crossing my legs isn’t good for me – pregnant or not. It can affect my circulation not to mention the stress it puts over time on my pelvis, hips and knees (I mean, it’s not exactly conducive to proper alignment).
Also, my osteopath told me to stop (how strong a motivation that is, I don’t know).
It’s so comfortable! All these years even when I have caught myself I didn’t really care. Comfort is a very strong motivator to continue to do something. If something feels good, why stop?
Second roadblock I guess is that I wear a lot of skirts and dresses and it’s just second nature for me to cross my legs in certain outfits. All lady like and all. Now I know, not crossing my legs does not mean I have to be all spread eagle, but I know it’s just all the more tempting to swing that leg over if I’m in a dress.
Notice the Habit. Identify the Trigger
The idea here is to become aware of how much I do it and at this point to just consciously take note. This is really important because I know that crossing my legs is an unconscious behaviour I seem to have established. The goal here is to notice the urge to cross my legs and not simply catch myself in the act. I’m not forcing myself to stop quite yet, but instead paying attention to the triggers – the things I do right before I cross my legs.
One trigger seems to be as soon as I sit down. I’m pretty much guaranteed to cross my legs if I’m in a firm, upright chair (at my desk, at the kitchen table, etc), not so much on the couch.
Another trigger is boredom. I shift around in my chair a lot when I get bored. I catch myself crossing and uncrossing my legs.
I know there are others. I’m sitting on the couch now with my legs on our coffee table and I keep crossing and uncrossing my ankles. I think it’s because I’m slouched and my back is getting achy.
Swap the Bad Habit. Reward.
I’m not quite at this stage yet but the seed has definitely been planted. I’m motivated and I have a plan.
For sitting in a chair, perhaps sitting up tall or grounding my feet could work.
As for boredom, f I can, I think the best thing to do is get up and go for a short walk. If that’s not possible (like I’m in a two hour meeting) perhaps breath work could do the trick. When I catch myself getting antsy I can focus my attention on taking three long, deep breaths.
For the couch, I think sitting upright for one. And not being on my computer on the couch would probably help too.
Not sure how I’ll reward myself quite yet. I know that the intrinsic reward of “good for my body” is not going to cut it. I’m going to need immediate gratification. Like high fives or chocolates that magically appear. I’ll have to give this a think.
But for now…
For now I’m going to keep noticing my behaviour and identifying new triggers. Once I’m totally noticing the triggers I’m going to start introducing the new habit, bit by bit.
I know this bad habit isn’t going to go away overnight (my legs are crossed right now as I write this) and that’s OK. I’m going to just do my best and be kind to myself along the way.
Tomorrow I’ll tell you the exciting story of why I’m failing at the second part of my homework – squats.