My Annoying Little Habit

Sitting squished into the middle seat on a completely full flight certainly has a way of making you think about how you interact with your world – in a knee to knee, elbow to elbow kind of way. As I seek to live in a way that offers kindness and consideration to those around me, I have to ask myself, “how do I impact others?” The middle seat brings that home.

I’ve been flying for years, across the country and around the world. I’ve had a few rough flights and a couple of rough landings, but never a recurring issue with airsickness. Until about 11 years ago. I was flying to Italy, via Canada, for an exciting summer study abroad adventure. Something went wrong in my little body on that trip. Air Canada took me on two particularly rough trips that summer.

I never lost my cookies, but I broke out in a cold sweat that left me wondering if I would survive the flight. Since then, I’ve experienced the same phenomenon on multiple other occasions. And developed a new and pervasive fear of flying. Not the fear that we wouldn’t make our destination, but that I would expire in midair from a dramatic loss of fluids. Extreme thinking, I know.

As a mental health professional, I also know how powerful my brain is and how I bring some of these physiological responses on myself. Nonetheless, I find myself taking measures to find that zen state before and during my flights. Those who know me, already know I’m kinda type A. More than kinda. But add the fear of throwing up to that personality quirk and you border on OCD.

Which brings me to the question I ask: “How do I impact people?” Well, I would certainly impact them if I lost my lunch six inches from their face. I do what I can to avoid that. But, how do impact them in a more ordinary, daily kind of way?

Stepping GumToday, it’s about my annoying little habit (ALH). See, I pop my gum. I don’t smack, or chew with my mouth open, or leave it under tables or  drop it on the sidewalk (have you SEEN all those nasty black spots on the ground?!?) or worse, the ruin of someone’s new leather soles. That would be tacky. Nope, I just pop it. And only on the right side of my mouth. Can’t even produce a pop on the left.

I don’t know when I started doing this. I certainly remember my father’s limit when I was a little girl, “Erin, if you can’t chew like a lady, you need to get rid of the gum.” And his more subtle reminders, “Good gum?” I was actively taught how to chew gum with grace. Is there really such a thing?

So, why on earth would I let myself pop it? It’s all about a little thing called self soothing. We all do it. It’s one way that I calm my nerves, regulate my fight, flight or freeze responses, activate my prefrontal cortex, soothe. Sounds good, right? Legitimate. Necessary. Sounds like some really smart reasons as to why I should be allowed to inflict this ALH on society at large, yeah?

This is where I have to ask myself The Question: “how do I impact people?” And better yet, “how do I WANT to impact people?” I do not want to be the annoying woman who pops her gum. Or, the woman who thinks only of herself. Or, the woman who thinks she’s better than everyone else and deserves to have her own way. Or, the woman who doesn’t love others well. Nope, I strive to always love others. To show the world the author of Love. To live as Jesus did. Man, do I fall short. Way, way, way short. Thank goodness for redemption. But it’s still my goal.

Consequently, when I find myself absentmindedly popping my gum, or staring at the woman talking loudly on her phone, or taking out my driving frustrations on the road, I remind myself that I DO impact people. And challenge myself to love them well. Even when that means finding another way to calm my nerves on a turbulent flight. It usually works.

How are you mindful of your annoying little habits? What helps you love others well?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

6 thoughts on “My Annoying Little Habit

  1. Erin,
    Congratulations on your soft launch! I’m so proud of you and look forward to following your blog etc.

  2. Erin, love your website! And congratulations on doing this. It’s so exciting! If you are considering going to Erin, I highly recommend her. She is truly interested in helping people and has the most genuine heart.

    • Lisa – thanks for taking the time to stop by. You have such a good heart that’s open to consideration of your own stuff. That’s half the battle, right? 🙂

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