There was something on social media this week about opening a new gym called Resignations, whose marketing plan is to have gym equipment from January to March, after which the place turns into a bar. I mean, right?
I completely support people who want to make real, lasting, healthy changes in their lives. And January 1 is a great time to start! Yet as most of us know, the motivation often fades and we find ourselves back in our usual, unhealthy, sleepy ruts.
Why do we do this? One reason: the seductive tractor beam of the familiar.
Let me ask you this: How many people do you know, including yourself, who say they want to be happy? Like, everyone, yes?
Now let me ask you this: How many people, including yourself, don't take the necessary steps to be happy? How many rarely set aside time for meditation, making their own food, exercise, good sleep, screen-free breaks, playing, and being in nature? Most, right? Sometimes this is called self-sabotage.
Humans are creatures of habit. If we grew up miserable and unloved, we're going to make damn sure to recreate that scenario in our adult lives. If we were brought up in poverty and lack, ditto. If our parents fought and there was a lot of emotional drama in the house, we're going to seek that out in our own relationships.
Are we doomed forever to repeat the negative patterns of our past and pass them on to our own children? Yes! Unless we notice them and see them for what they are: little programs running in the background that keep us running in the ways that are familiar to us.
Thus, I'd like to propose some debugging procedures for those of us willing to make real, positive change in our lives this year. Here's a short list of my personal favorite techniques:
- Identify your old patterns and habits. Next time you find yourself in the same damn argument, take a moment to step back and wonder why. What part of you is really enjoying that exchange? (Spoiler alert: Three letters, starts with E ends with O. You're welcome.)
- Realize that you are not your thoughts. As soon as you notice negative self-talk or that you're judging others, ask the question, "Who is having these thoughts?" (Hint: It's not the true You!)
- Consider the idea that you are never the victim. You only put yourself in that position. Why would you do that ? Because it's...[wait for it]...familiar! This one is scary, because it means you're completely in charge of your own daily experience. And that's the truth, if you choose to accept it.
- Begin responding, stop reacting. Feel like a raw nerve walking around that anyone can poke, fondle, grab, or tickle? It really sucks. Center yourself and commit to choosing if, when, and how you will respond to others' input. Be in charge of yourself and your energy.
- Be "selfish"! Do your own work and quit trying to fix others. Their stuff is absolutely none of your business. In fact, if you think they need fixing, you have a lot of your own work to do! Many of us "helper" types loooove trying to teach others how to live/think/act "right." It feeds the Ego by making us feel powerful, and keeps us distracted from doing our own inner work. Double whammy of wasted time and energy. (Pro tip: If you'll notice, most people don't ask for or really want your advice.)
- Do what you want. Wait, what?? Yes, this is the most radical of them all. With love in your heart and a smile in your voice, feel free to inform bosses, family, and friends, "I do what I want!" This is not only good for a laugh (usually), but lets others know that you're no longer going to engage in the oozing life-suck of people-pleasing.
- Make most things something you want to do, or don't do them. Refer to 6. If you can flip the switch from victimhood (see 3) to the beginnings of self-mastery, you can go from sheer drudgery to depression shattering in a red-hot instant. Real life example: "Dammit, I have to put this money in the bank and get groceries before I go home," becomes, "Yes! I have money to put in the bank! And I can buy food! And I have a house to put it in!"
Well, there you have it: my quick and dirty list to blast out of whatever hole you might find yourself in as this less-than-stellar year limps to a close. If you're tempted to counter my list with a "Yeah, but [insert political team win/loss here or other example of why you don't want your power]," please re-read 1-7 as needed. When you laugh, you'll know you've got it!
Do you find these ideas interesting or inspiring? Then please share and pass it on! I offer one-on-one sessions if you want to explore these concepts in detail and get personal instruction on applying these and other transformations to your own deal. If you're local to the California Central Coast, come try out one of my unique, monthly yoga-based events!
Here's to you. [clink] And may 2017 bring personal growth and true, human maturity on a level that reaches global proportions!