A couple months ago the Dearliest brought something to my attention. I forget the exact wording, but it was something along the lines of, “Do you realize that just about every question you ask is a double question?”
“You mean I ask two questions or one question with a double meaning?” Okay, I didn’t actually say that, but it truly was an eye-opener. I really appreciated that he wasn’t telling me to quit it (in fact, he found it more amusing than anything else), but he was right in saying that if someone where continually asking me double questions, I’d find it annoying. It made me want to change the behavior, and so I set about it.
How do you break a habit that you a) didn’t know you had and b) have had for most your life? (At least, I assume it’s been most my life…I’ve spent quite some time analyzing this facet of myself and am certain I’ve been doing it since I was at least 16, if not younger.) One of my piano teachers said once that it takes your fingers 100 repetitions of a piece in order for “muscle memory” to take over, and if you learn it incorrectly it takes 100 more correct repetitions to unlearn the mistake, and another 100 repetitions for your fingers to relearn it.
Based on that 1:2 ratio and applying it to mental habits, I figure I’ll be in my 90s before I’ve relearned the behavior. Or dead. 😛 Oh well. Doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying!
I spent the first two weeks just becoming aware of the double questions, which really wasn’t so difficult because once they were pointed out to me they became glaring huge LED signs. “Do you want me to do it like ____ or ____ AUGH that was a double question. How do you want me to do ______?.” became a frequent occurrence, one that was frustrating because I couldn’t seem to stop myself from throwing in that “or” even though I saw it coming the moment I opened my mouth.
The mouth was the problem, really. It started talking before I’d really thought about what exactly it was I wanted to know–what question I truly wanted answered. Around week three I had established asking myself this before saying anything, but unfortunately by the time I’d decided what I really wanted the answer to, I’d generally already asked half the question.
I’m still working on answering the mental “what do you want to know?” before opening my mouth at all, but I’ve got a long road ahead of me. I still catch myself in a double question a lot of the time, but generally I’m able to quit before the “or” and just live with the fact that it I might not be asking the question I really want answered.
And so I make a personal journey. I’m enjoying the challenge despite it’s frustrations, and I’m quite determined to see it through. Here’s to self-improvement!