Unconscious Behavior: An Obstacle to Change

Try brushing your teeth with your opposite hand, or sleeping on the opposite side of the bed, or place the mouse on the other side of the keyboard. Can’t do it, can you?


All of these are unconscious behaviors that have established patterns, patterns that you repeat everyday, without consciously thinking. Changing these patterns and behaviors is difficult. 


Much of your work behaviors are repeated patterns. How you reach for the mouse, where you rest your elbows at your desk, how you sit in your chair are some of these unconscious events. 


What if you sit perched on your chair with a forward head posture reaching for your mouse. I see it everyday when I assess work stations. This posture usually results in neck, shoulder, back and/or head discomfort. Your solution often is to reach for the ibuprofen. 


How about addressing the problem and change your sitting posture? It’s typically not the choice because it’s difficult to change.  First, you have to ask yourself: How am I sitting? And, why do I sit like this? Am I sitting forward in the chair because the chair is too big or because the overhead lights are too bright and wash out my screen clarity? Are my eye glasses adjusted appropriately? Why am I reaching for my mouse? Is there no room to place it closer? Is my chair too low for my work space?  Is my knee space cluttered? Our bodies will adapt to the work space unconsciously, regardless if it creates good or bad posture.


If you are experiencing discomfort at your workstation, take a conscious moment and think about what hurts and what might be the cause. Make a change in your workstation and address the problem by changing your unconscious behavior. Use MEMIC’s  “10 Tips for A Perfect Fit” (available through MEMIC Safety Director) worksheet to guide you through creating a comfortable workstation.  It takes time to change old habits. 



 Boat about to hit an iceberg.