One of the things I do with my clients is help them recognize their normal habits and veer from it occasionally in order to accomplish a task in a different way. For instance, when I have people cross their arms across their chests, I ask them to note which arm they naturally cross on top; the next time we do the task, I ask them to cross the other way. It always feels awkward the first time, particularly for things like changing the way a person interlocks his fingers. Attempting to interlock with the opposite thumb on top feels like “holding a stranger’s hand.” Clients find these little habits interesting, and many of my regular clients make a point of trying things the less comfortable way before I ask.
Habits are formed to make things more efficient. Having to think each time you pick up your toothbrush about how you are going to brush your teeth would probably deter many from the act of brushing. It would take too much mental effort. However, becoming aware of your habits gives you the ability to once in a while say to yourself, “I know my habit is to pick things up off the floor with my right hand. What happens if I try it with my left hand?” or “I like to lead down the stairs with my left foot. Maybe I will try leading with my right foot.” Awareness gives you the ability to consciously try things a different way. Variability, after all, is healthy for the mind and the body.