Houseguests and Routines

One of my resolutions this month is to develop daily and weekly routines. I’m doing OK with the weekly routines, but I still struggle with daily routines. I sort of let myself off the hook this past week with my mom here, since having visitors always changes routines anyway. Now that she’s on her way back to Ohio, my thoughts have returned to this topic, and I’m pondering how to proceed.

I snuck in a few minutes of reading this afternoon. In the section I read today of Addiction to Perfection, Marion Woodman writes about routines as rituals. Whether they are positive or negative, these rituals serve to fulfill archetypes (she’s a Jungian psychoanalyst; they seem to use the terms “archetype” and “shadow” with some frequency. I’m not entirely certain I’m understanding them completely or using them properly). These rituals aren’t always consciously applied. In fact, we often don’t even realize we have them until they’re disrupted.

She uses the example of a morning routine. You wake up, go to the bathroom, go to the kitchen for a bagel and coffee (or, if you’re me, a green smoothie), brush your teeth and wash your face, etc. Then one day you have a guest staying at your house. You wake up and the bathroom is in use. You find yourself annoyed at chatting with another person during breakfast. The whole day gets thrown off and you’re in a bad mood because a ritual you didn’t even know you had was disrupted. These rituals are there to meet needs that we have, and if we don’t follow our regular ritual, we must have a substitute ritual or we feel out of sorts.

I wonder if this is part of why I’ve been having trouble applying daily routines to my life. I’ve been just trying to adopt other people’s routines, which haven’t really been sticking very well. Maybe the answer (or one answer) is to start by identifying the needs I’d like to meet and then building a routine from there. Another starting point could be to identify what routines I already have in place, what needs they’re meeting/what archetypes I’m acting out with them, and then shift the routines so that they are more positive rituals that still meet my needs.

Woodman talks about the overarching “masculine” energies in our lives and our society and how many of our negative rituals are attempts to grasp some “feminine” energy (through our relationships to food, among other things). I guess the goal would be to find more positive ways to balance the feminine and masculine in our lives. My inclination is to sit down with my brain and reason through this whole thing, develop myself a plan, and then record, apply it, and reflect upon the outcome, a process I’m fairly certain is tipped way over to the “masculine” side of things. I’m not sure I’m ready to use only my intuition, but I think I may be able to release my dependence on just my intellect. I have the sense that just having this awareness is starting me along the path to greater balance.

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