8 Habits I Want to Break in 2023

2022 will be my last year for a lot of behaviors. I started out this year hoping to live my life to the fullest, but fell down trying to set and enforce my boundaries during the midst of living my life.

While I actively work against regretting choices I made — and especially this one — I can’t help wondering what my life would look like if I had not moved closer to family. I think I’m held back, falling into old habits, around the people who have known me my whole life.

Black kittin in bathtub in dim light, looking at camera
My boundaries watching me regress into a people-pleasing Playdough mold

I feel like they got me closer and sought more control over me because of that closeness.

I don’t know. If that’s the case, I don’t feel they did it consciously.

What I do know is, I’m not going to carry the same habits through to 2024 and beyond.

Habits I’m going to quit

Some studies say it takes 60 days to break a habit, but I find the ones that found most participants needing anywhere from six months to a year most realistic. I think personal and interpersonal habits are much harder to break than biting your nails or drinking soda everyday.

In 2023, I’m keen to continue bullet journaling and writing the first draft of my memoir, working title Gutter Punch. I think that’s what it means to be mindful. 🤔😂

This list of habits I want to break next year also qualify as boundaries, many of which I attempted to enforce this past year.

1. Seeking approval

Feels like my desire for approval started at zero and slowly avalanched into needing it every time I turned around.

Kitten touching finger with nose, then getting pet

Neurodivergent people aren’t “normal”. We’re never going to fit into ordinary standards, satisfied with the bare minimum.

The sources of approval available to me heavily rely on the bare minimum as standards for life that everyone should aspire for — unless they wish to have traditional career paths.

I don’t want to live a cookie cutter life, waiting until retirement to live my life.

2. Taking financial advice from family

Every response about my money is how I should spend it — save it for requirement, keep living life how I am currently.

Don’t spend any of it!

Holding a stack of cash folded in half twice

When you’re starting a business, I daresay it’s worse. Instead of remaining silent, my persistent drive for autonomy (PDA) self just had to refute their advice, proclaim that she was going to buy a new laptop. Did she get the laptop? No. Because enough input resulted in feelings of guilt, self-gaslighting, and so on to prevent that shit.

Business finances are different. I learned that this year, and I really wish I’d stopped listening to everyone else’s advice about money sooner. 😔

I mentioned needing to form an LLC: “You don’t need to do that if you’re doing okay without it. Save the money!” 👀

👁️👄👁️ I am no longer taking financial advice from relatives.

There’s also shit about a 401(k) — I need a job with that availability so I can contribute to one? 🙄 I’ve done my due diligence and will not be going that route. ✨

3. Living too close to family

I’m moving back to Princeton. It is far enough away from city life that I’m not too far away from city needs. High-speed internet is the norm there. I have family nearby, but the need for utter closeness is non-existent.

Charlise & Co are in Princeton, so I’d be able to see her girls again because I’d be closer! And I’d be far enough away from infantilization but close enough to civilization should I truly need something.

Putting myself in a position wherein I heavily relied on help from people who raised me, should anything go wrong, made me a kind of vulnerable that I don’t want to be with them. It’s dangerous to embrace your authenticity and autism to someone who would have me institutionalized because they think my real self is just a mentally ill person that refuses to accept that “this isn’t like [her]”.

Bathroom mirror selfie, head down, phone up
I unmasked my autism, and my family tried to medicate me for it.

I’m not going to church right now because I can’t tell whether I’m mad at God or hypocritical Christians, but I was going for a bit. If I let slip that I was awake at a certain time, it was like this problematic thing I had to explain and then defend myself for because I wasn’t following typical societal sleep/wake times.

The more I learned about boundaries, the less independent I felt. The more I reparented myself, the less I wanted to rely on others for emotional support.

And so, too, the more I was gaslit and criticized. And I fell. Looking back, it happened rather slowly, but survival mode makes things feel like everything is happening on a constant basis.

What’s ironic about it all is that I’m expected to be independent! But the more independent I behave and the more independence I seek, the more critical and infantilizing my family is.

4. I will stop dismissing my needs as “high-maintenance” wants

Needs of mine that have been dismissed as high-maintenance wants (and/or abnormal behaviors that need medication):

  • Feeling secure where I live, without fear that I will lose my home
  • Having a place to CALL home, that is decent and clean, and not full of half-assed fixes
  • Respected boundaries, so I’ve the mental capacity to be a kind human to other people, whether or not they’re part of my life
  • A routine that makes sense for me, that is practical based on my needs and energy levels
  • Slow living as opposed to living life in a rushed state
  • My cat’s health being A-OK, so I’m not worried about whether she will die of unforeseen causes
  • To embrace my autism, be surrounded by people who support neurodiversity
  • Special interests prioritized, not put on the back burner
  • Living without constant PDA triggers
  • Financial security, not living paycheck to paycheck, without reliance on the stock market
  • My clothes to fit comfortably and loose, not to be itchy AF

Just because my needs differ from the bare minimum neurotypical needs, it doesn’t mean they’re not needs.

5. No longer constantly explaining myself

Over-explaining yourself is a trauma response that is difficult to unlearn. It’s also a sign of anxiety, but trauma causes anxiety, too. 🤔 One of the questions I’ve learned to ask myself as someone with complex posttraumatic stress disorder (cPTSD) is, “Is this legitimate anxiety or is it trauma-related?”

Most of the time, it is trauma-related. Healthy anxiety is the body’s natural way of bringing awareness to unsafe or uncomfortable situations. After a lifetime of being told to ignore any feeling that was not happiness, I’m finally learning to embrace my feelings and accept them.

Unfortunately, keeping your yeses “yes” and nos “no”, point blank, is not as easy as counting to three. However, I find myself feeling more confident and capable of not explaining myself when my basic needs are met. So I think this habit will fall into effect when the other habits are minimized. 🤌

6. Thinking small of myself

Having grown up taught to aim for the bare minimums and not rock any boats, I think I fell into this concept that I was incapable of achieving or having more. Like, wanting more and proclaiming that I want more for myself is met with resistance and criticism.

You can be grateful and critical/wanting more without losing the gratitude. Two things can be true at once.

My potential is not limited by what other people think I can do, but it is limited by what I don’t do.

7. Retiring the concept of laziness

Earlier this year, I mentioned looking into having a cleaning service clean my apartment at least once a month. I was chastised, and told that I am not lazy and need to just do it myself to save the money.

So I didn’t, because criticism kills energy when it comes from people you surround yourself by.

Kitten asleep next to human, on bed

I also wanted to hire someone to prepare freezer meals for me, since I don’t have the energy or motor skills required to constantly cook food for myself. I didn’t do that, either, because the laziness concept kept creeping forward in my mind.

If I can financially afford it, and a maid or food prepper is what I need for my well-being, then I am going to do it.

I’m not going to put my well-being at risk in fear of what other people consider “luxuries” just because my needs are different.

8. Accepting criticism

It’s not my business to know what negative things someone else feels about me. I don’t need to know that. I’m not going to listen to it.

I know this habit can easily be abused by abusers themselves, but I need to work on my self-esteem. Last year, I had a lot of it. Now I have so little self-esteem that I feel like I’m in debt. 😵

Constant criticism weighs a person down, no matter how much they try to not be bothered by it. It’s an insidious behavior that threatens every ounce of a person’s well-being.

Once I am back out and living on my own, I will not be taking any negativity from family. I’m tired of being told the negative things people think of me. I’m tired of being held responsible for someone else’s anxiety because I’m not living my life in a way that keeps them feeling comfortable.

In 2023, I will be living my life for me, per mine and my cat’s needs, so we can live our best lives to the fullest. ✨

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I loooove all of this. I could really relate to some of them, particularly the anxious response of over-explaining myself—which, in all honesty, is something I do probably as a result of my upbringing, but I never thought about it that way—and overall really pushing away other people’s judgement and not letting it affect my way of life. I commend you for paying for the services you need with preparing meals and cleaning. I used to feel guilty about doing this, as well as the opposite end of the spectrum in feeling grossly privileged to be able to afford that kind of help, but when I really think to the bottom of it: I’m paying someone for their work, and they deserve to be paid, and I’m OK with that because I want to spend my time on other things, or I’m just not good at those things.

One of my habits I want to break in 2023 is being late to stuff… 👀 I feel like it’s almost “in my blood” because my parents grew up in Java, Indonesia, where traffic is rife, and being late is pretty excusable, but that doesn’t fly in a Western society. 😅 So I’m really going to try and give myself as much time as possible to get ready for meetings/events that have a specific time, because not only do I want to be respectful of other people’s time, but I just fucking hate being in a rush. Which is somewhat in line with slow living as well. 😊

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I used to feel guilty about doing this, as well as the opposite end of the spectrum in feeling grossly privileged to be able to afford that kind of help, but when I really think to the bottom of it: I’m paying someone for their work, and they deserve to be paid, and I’m OK with that because I want to spend my time on other things, or I’m just not good at those things.

I also think of this as recognizing your own needs and outsourcing what needs to be done to meet them, so that you can meet your other needs. 🤌

Yes, it may be a sign of privilege, but I’ve learned that it is something I shouldn’t feel guilty for doing since meeting my needs means

  1. My life feels secure.
  2. I’m capable of being a kind human.
  3. My peace is preserved.

Laziness happens when people have unmet needs, but unmet needs also leads to unkind humans.

I’m probably not making much sense, but this psychologist in TikTok explained needs looking different for everyone and being what you, individually, need to be the best version of yourself. So not having the time or energy to clean, but needing a clean space to function at full capacity, and choosing to outsource that task to someone else is not a mere “want”. It’s a need.

It takes a village to raise a human and a village to keep that human alive. In other words, we’re not supposed to take 100% care of ourselves and meet our own needs — that’s actually another kind of trauma response!

Stay kind to yourself 💖 good luck with the tardiness!

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