As I’m driving to work, singing along to ‘three little birds’ on the radio, I remember I was supposed to pick up a co-worker and I just passed the turn. My body automatically drove straight to work while my mind was distracted by the song because I usually go straight to work without stopping.
Steadiness along with changes
Many people will say, “I can’t do it”, or “It wasn’t meant to be” if they try something new and fail. The truth is humans aren’t built for changing easily. Nature has made it easy for us to repeat habitual tasks, like driving to work, and it’s that neural wiring that makes it hard to change our routine behavior.
That’s the first obstacle to look for, resistance from our habitual modes of being or doing. The only antidote is to see it for what it is. As a child, we learned to crawl and then walk. We were usually encouraged, no one expected us to fail or told us to give up. It was to try and try again until gradually our body knew exactly what to do- not just to walk, but to jump and run and do all kinds of things.
Once it’s in there though, there’s no reason to ever think about it again. Unless of course, you are trying to make a change in your body and mind. For instance, that thought, “I can’t do it”, somehow got to be a phrase you hear in your mind when you think about changing your routines, eating differently, exercising more, or taking up yoga. You probably would like to change that.
“Intention, commitment and dedication- big words for little steps.”
Once you do something, even once, you can gain traction. That one-time action was a success. Next time you hear that voice, you can say “I am doing it” and again, take a very small action. In yoga, maybe 2 minutes breathing.
Now that you are aware of the resistance your body and mind might have to even the simplest change, you can continue to work at it with lots of compassion and patience.
Embrace the fear
You will also have to protect the new voice of optimism and kindness. After all, we didn’t develop a negative voice without help. Where in your life do you encounter skepticism about your ideas or abilities?
Start by suspecting everyone. your friends, relatives, and even your partner have received much the same conditioning as you, they are used to themselves and you and all the patterns. Think twice when you consider sharing your progress or the bumps along the way.
Look for signs that the other person is supportive- and in what areas of your life. My mom and I were pretty close, but anytime I tried something new she was afraid for me. That I would fail and be crushed. I was always drawn to share my latest project or efforts because I wanted her to be happy for me, but the first words out of her mouth were usually “be careful”.
My husband, who is consciously my biggest fan, hates change and loves his dinner on time. I’m cautious sharing too much with him because he fears me committing too much time or resources on new projects. That’s a good filter for me- what will Doug say. Too many ideas is a creative bog, selecting which to work on based on their priority and my desire is important.
You can’t do everything, so embrace the inner critic and your inner mother- give them voice and listen. They will tell you all the pitfalls, and get louder the closer you get to the truth of what you want. Take action, in small ways, to find your passion, and protect the voice of optimism and excitement with lots of self-care and creative rewards.
Believe in your results
As you work on building new routines and mindsets, keep in mind that resistance will come from both within and without. You can succeed if you count every success no matter how small, and see the times that you skip a day or forget as predictable, inevitable bumps in the process towards learning new habits and ways of thinking
Here’s to your great mental health and overcoming all the obstacles in your path.
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