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Ritual and Routine

Ritual and routine. Watchwords for my life.

When I say “ritual” I’m talking about the personal things we do, rather than anything connected to religion. Little things like knocking on wood before performing a certain task, maybe. Things that don’t really mean anything, but make us feel better.

Routine – the things we do every day, the things we have to do, like checking all the windows are closed before we go to work.

I love my routine. I do the same things every workday morning, in the same order. Get out of bed, make lunch, shave, shower, brush teeth. That’s all fine. Next I check the kitchen plugs are off, check the water to the washing machine is off, check the washing machine and microwave are unplugged, check the side window’s closed, check the amplifier is off at the wall, check the amplifier base unit is off at the wall, check the bathroom fan master switch is off and leave the house.

There’s more, but you get the idea.

Here’s the kicker – I already know most of the stuff is fine. I use the washing machine on a Monday evening. It can’t magically plug itself back in, but I need to check every morning. If I don’t check I feel uneasy. That’s when routine becomes ritual. It serves no useful purpose but I need to do it to make myself feel better. If I do something out of order it feels very wrong.

Then there’s the stuff which my brain expects to happen. The other day I walked into a door at work. I flung my right arm at the door handle and missed. I tried with my left hand and missed. However, my brain expected the door to be open by now, so my legs just kept on going. Ouch!

Here’s what I imagine was going on in my head at the time, starting in the “Department for Hands and Arms”.

Brain Error

Once I’ve locked a door, I check it’s locked – that’s good common sense. If I wait around in the proximity of the door for more than a few seconds I have to check it again. That’s just mad! I know it’s locked.

Does anyone else have a routine which has morphed into a ritual?

  1. August 14, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    I do the same thing! …Although I’ve never run into a door… πŸ˜‰


    • August 14, 2013 at 8:18 pm

      I’m not the only one then!
      It’s best not to run into doors – it makes you look like a moron πŸ™‚


  2. August 14, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    Garry and I both have our little rituals. Garry is very programmed, me slightly less so. I thought it was OCD, personally … but I think I like ritual better. Makes us very valuable worker bees because along with this need to do things a certain way and not any other comes a kind of diligence. We meet deadlines. We can’t miss deadlines. I feel like the world will end if I meet a deadline, even if I’m not being paid, even if I set the deadline myself. Great post. And thought-provoking indeed.


    • August 15, 2013 at 6:39 am

      Glad you enjoyed the post!
      I wondered about OCD as well. In fact I mentioned it at the end but deleted it before publish, as I felt that my little “rituals” were nothing compared to the full-on OCD some people struggle to deal with every day.
      I must admit I’m not so worried about deadlines myself. Obviously I try to meet them but if I don’t, I don’t worry too much.


  3. August 14, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Miss a deadline. Geez. My fingers type one thing while my brain thinks another. THAT is strange too.


    • August 15, 2013 at 6:39 am

      My fingers sometimes have a mind of their own too!


  4. August 14, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    I do not have these rituals… or routines… eeps! utter chaos! but i have walked right into many a door… πŸ™‚


    • August 15, 2013 at 6:41 am

      I’d love to ditch some of my rituals but can’t. At least it means everything is definitely in the correct state before I leave the house, guaranteed!
      Sorry to hear about your door problem 😦


  5. August 15, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    Having the memory of a goldfish has made my entire life about routines. Every time I have to add or subtract something, my world goes sideways for a while.


    • August 15, 2013 at 8:24 pm

      That’s odd – I had to moderate your post!
      I remember you mentioning that before. Routines can be very helpful in getting things done especially when one has memory issues, but they seem to get hard-wired into my brain after a while and become things I have to do.


      • August 15, 2013 at 8:27 pm

        Repeating myself a lot us also a routine. πŸ™‚

        I am in need of moderation.


        • August 15, 2013 at 8:31 pm



          • August 15, 2013 at 8:35 pm

            Stupid phone… *is*


            • August 15, 2013 at 8:53 pm

              I rarely do any WordPressing on my phone – my fingers are too chunky for the tiny little keyboard!


  6. August 16, 2013 at 5:03 am

    Hmmm, interesting how you live with yourself. Do you enjoy all your routines?


    • August 16, 2013 at 6:36 am

      Nope, not really. But they’re part of my life.
      I could probably stop if someone was there prodding me. Like a really good psychotherapist.


  7. August 16, 2013 at 5:31 am

    I’m sorry but I have to ask, why would you unplug a washing machine? I’ve unplugged mine twice in 5 years to sweep under it. Doesn’t really get dirty but a little dusty. I am confused, please.


    • August 16, 2013 at 6:41 am

      Usually I just switch stuff off at the wall but leave it plugged in.
      However, the only way I could plug in the washing machine was to bring the cable round the front, squash it a bit against the worktop and plug it into a 4-way extension lead I wired myself over 20 years ago and which doesn’t exactly look the safest thing ever.
      Did I mention the extension lead has to sit on the machine next to the sink (i.e. water) so it will reach?

      So not the safest set-up ever devised. I feel happier unplugging it.


      • August 16, 2013 at 5:50 pm

        Ok I get it. Thank you. I dated a man with set routines in how he lived. I loved his routines , not him so much but the organization of life. I learned more from him in that year than from anyone else.


        • August 16, 2013 at 8:44 pm

          Cool, sounds like a year well spent!
          It’s only when routines become (mentally) unbreakable that there’s a problem.


  8. August 19, 2013 at 9:26 am

    I have to know where the cats are before I leave the house, incase I’ve locked them in somewhere. Does that count? Oh, and then there is the repeated checking of the gas rings on the hob, even if I haven’t used them, incase they’ve managed to turn themselves on (!) and checking the door is locked so many times that I get annoyed with myself and even tell myself off as I go to check it for the umpteampth (is that how you spell that?) time . . . I think I have issues.


    • August 19, 2013 at 11:34 am

      I think the cat thing is fine – they can run around and get everywhere!
      As for the rest of it, well, I’m just relieved it’s not just me who does these things πŸ™‚
      When I bought my new car I had the option of a keyless entry system, but that wouldn’t work for me – I wouldn’t be able to lock the door without checking it and that would unlock the door again!


  9. August 19, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    I enjoyed your sketch of your internal departments going into overdrive as you walked into a door. I’ve done that too: push bathroom door open> door catches on bathroom mat> door only half opens>brain has already issued command to legs to keep walking, expecting door to be fully opened> TOO LATE, TOO LATE – BANG!! People never quite know whether to believe me when I explain the bruise on the side of my face is where I “walked into a door” but in my case, it is true.


    • August 19, 2013 at 1:03 pm

      I feel a lot better after reading some of the comments to this post – I am not the only one!
      It seems that the more we get used to doing something, the more dangerous it becomes as we expect everything to happen correctly!
      Very occasionally I cause a grinding of gears in my car when my hand messes up on the gear lever – my foot has already let go the clutch because it assumes the hand has done its job…


  10. December 17, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    I love the bit about having to check the door again if you stay in the vicinity! I have the same mental wiring. I know you wrote this a couple of months back but I was just looking around trying some door handles just to see if they were locked. πŸ™‚


    • December 18, 2013 at 6:22 am

      I’m guessing it’s never going to get better without therapy but it’s nothing major so I’m leaving it alone. At least I know all the doors will always be locked, all the lights off when I leave and so on πŸ™‚


  1. October 10, 2013 at 8:00 am

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