Doing so much yet so little: confined in routine’s cage

boredom routine

AARGH THE CAGE OF ROUTINE. It’s not cut and dried – routine can be enormously beneficial and a great support. It can also suck.

Can routine be counterintuitive and damaging? Does it confine us? I certainly think so.

With our lives becoming increasingly hectic, routine makes things feel safe. Easier to manage. It starts off so simply: wake up, get dressed, grab breakfast, brush teeth, run out of door to head… wherever. Maybe it’s the same place you head to every day, to do pretty much the same things.

These little routines are all well and good, for the most part. Yet routine has confining and restrictive properties which chip away at our souls. All things considered, it can end up a destructive force in our lives…

I think we all have at least one specific thing we feel we must do each day or week. It could be as small as giving your partner a habitual kiss as you get up each morning. It could be doing your weekly shop at exactly the same time every Thursday, or logging your monthly expenses each payday. There’s absolutely no problem with kissing, shopping or keeping track of your finances. But problems can arise when you miss or change one of these habitual rituals…

As I look around it seems to me that the majority of society is scared to break even the smallest habit. Anything outside the realms of our regular activity is abnormal and, quite frankly, terrifying. We say we want something different but do things the same way. We struggle to get round to doing anything that wasn’t on the to-do list. When it comes to the older generation I can safely (albeit stereotypically) say that its members have a quicker tendency to reject anything which isn’t the ‘done’ or conventional thing, their routines and habits becoming more deeply ingrained with each year. My Gran, for example, hates it if she can’t find her usual bread in the supermarket. REALLY hates it. The same goes for her favoured lipstick shade. If ‘blush’ gets discontinued, I’m not sure I could handle the consequences.

If we can’t handle buying a different type of bread, how can we accept anything out of our comfort zone? How can we know if we like or dislike anything if we’ve never tried it? Imagine never trying broccoli because a friend told you it tastes terrible, and confining yourself to a mundane gastronomical world when you actually love the taste of broccoli and it’s what you’ve been missing out on.

Routine is meant to be there for our benefit but it can too easily make us feel less, not more. Maybe we don’t always get a choice, but slipping into routine can also make us less eager to seek alternatives. Like staying in a job you hate for fear of not liking another opportunity. Or settling in an unhappy relationship for fear of the unfamiliar.

Routines are there for us to manage, not be controlled by. They can work in our favour and be good for us, but only if they help channel the flow of positive energy.

Rethink your routine and if it isn’t actively positive, forget it!