From Home Education by Charlotte Mason (from the chapter “Habit is Ten Natures”)
…it is as if every familiar train of thought made a rut in the nervous substance of the brain into which the thoughts run lightly of their own accord, and out of which they can only be got by an effort of will.
I’ve been studying a lot about habit training and discipling recently. I really love Charlotte Mason’s descriptions of habits. Here she speaks of an older child who should “know better”, but was never trained properly and as such his brain now naturally functions in the other way.
And to correct bad habits of speaking, for instance, it will not be enough for the child to intend to speak plainly and to try to speak plainly; he will not be able to do so habitually until some degree of new growth has taken place… whilst he is making efforts to form the new habit.
Any sequence of mental action which has been frequently repeated, tends to perpetuate itself; so that we find ourselves automatically prompted to think, feel, or do what we have been before accustomed to think, feel, or do, under like circumstances, without any consciously formed purpose or anticipation of results.
I know how true this is as an adult, even when we “know better”. If we have trained ourselves to habitually perform a bad habit, it is an effort to behave differently. I am just now considering how early these habits are formed and how much easier life will be for my children if they are already used to the good habits rather than having bad ones they have to break.
[…] Then she starts talking about exactly the same thing as Charlotte Mason. I discussed it in my Trains of Thought entry. She says that humans have a hard time with change and are actually immune to it. The same thing CM said! Go figure …it short-circuits our goals. We want to lose weight, but can’t seem to overcome our immunity to change in the area of eating habits. We want to be more patient with our toddler but our “immune system” kicks in, preventing us from trying a new, calmer method for handling fussiness. […]