So you’ve made a commitment to change. Maybe you’re trying to drop something that’s not good for you, like eating junk food or smoking, or maybe you’re trying to add something positive to your life, like more exercise or a meditation practice.
But even though this thing is really important to you, you feel like you’re constantly battling yourself. It’s discouraging. Shouldn’t it be easy to do something you know is good for you? Plus, when you do slip into the old behavior you’re trying to stop, you feel so bad about yourself afterward…
You’re not bad or feckless, you’re just struggling against the gravitational pull of habit.
The vast majority of human behavior and thought patterns are habitual. Think of learning to drive a car, it took so much concentration and effort at first. Now almost all the actions related to driving come automatically. This is as it should be, it allows your conscientious mind to focus on what does change: the road and the other drivers on it.
The downside is when you want to change something about yourself, you have to work against the brain’s adaption to operate automatically.
It like you’re a moon orbiting a planet, where gravity and velocity keep you going along just as you have before. When you want to switch the planet you’re orbiting, it takes a lot of energy to escape the tug of your old way of being.
Just keep at it.
Soon you will have tugged yourself free, crossed over some empty space, and your new habit will begin to have its own gravitational force in your life. Eventually the new habit will become automatic and you will move forward with ease.
The yogis say it takes 40 days to change a habit, 90 days to confirm it, 120 days to make the habit who you are, and 1000 days to master the habit. If a student comes to me really desperate, frustrated or stuck about some aspect of their life, I recommend they try doing a meditation every day for 40 days.
We work together to find a meditation that works on some aspect of what they’re trying to change. Then their homework is to go do it! I’ve seen some amazing shifts happen with these forty day meditations.
Ah, but what to do when you’re stuck in the trenches…
Here are a few tricks of the trade for keeping your commitments in those hard early stages.
1. Close negotiations with yourself. They waste energy!
There will be times when you don’t want to do what you’ve committed to do. That’s ok, expect it, but don’t get sucked into having a whole “Should I, Shouldn’t I” internal debate.
Example: You set the alarm 15 minutes early so you have time to meditate. It goes off and inside you’re like “Noooooo! I want to sleep!” Accept this info from the ego and say “I know, sleep’s awesome, but fortunately I’ve already made this decision and I know I’ll feel better if I meditate.”
2. Create external consequences for yourself.
a. Make plans with a friend, so your desire not to disappoint them will motivate you.
Example: You come home from work and think, “Man, it’s been a long day, I’m not sure I’m up for the gym.” But you realize, “I said I’d meet Cindy there at 7, so I better go get ready.”
b. Pay money for something ahead.
Example: You’ve been frustrated about not being able to find time for art and creativity on a regular basis. You choose to enroll in a class at a local art school. Now you know you’ll have a little creative time each week. You certainly wont want to waste your class fee by blowing it off.
c. Choose to remember the negative consequences of the habit you’re trying to break.
Example: You think, “that doughnut looks tasty…” But then you recall that the last time you ate a doughnut it felt like there was a brick in your stomach afterwards.
4. Let the past be the past.
a. If you’ve messed up, do your best to repair any broken trust that resulted from it, and then let it go. That’s it. Let it go. You need all your energy focused on the present, so you have the strength to take the steps that will make the future better.
One of the most powerful forces of your life is commitment. Your commitments create you, they form your character & your identity. They give you the staying power to negotiate the transition from old habit to new. Best of luck with the commitments you embark on, may the give you great healing and transformation.
Please let me know what you thought of this article. Do you have any other tricks for keeping commitments you’d like to share? I’m love to hear what works for you.
Last Call for the Four Month Yoga Journey!
The Monday evening session of The Four Month Yoga Journey is full, but there is still room in the Tuesday at 9 am class! We start on Sept. 15.
The Yoga Journey is for people who are sore and stressed and want a natural way to steady their emotions and build physical health.
The Yoga Journey Includes:
1. A weekly 90 minute class with yoga, meditation and plenty of time to relax.
2. Tea and a few minutes of social time at the end of class to foster community.
3. One half-hour individual consultation with me.
We’ll talk to set up a time that works for both of us and figure out your goals for the session. Your one-on-one session can be about: going over individual pose modifications or other areas where you may feel unsure, creating a tailored daily practice, or a half hour Reiki session.
For a full description of the class please click here. I’d love to have a conversation with you to answer your questions and make sure this class is the right fit for you. Don’t hesitate to reach out.
Swaran Kaur / Sara Goodrich 713-0638
As you may or may not know I’m a bit of a old house/ downtown development nerd. So, I can’t resist sharing this wonderful opportunity:
Small Scale Developers Boot Camp – Maine
A wide swath of small developers making downtown great one building at a time is what this city needs. Are you one of them?
Check out this 1.5 day workshop starting Sept. 28. Early bird price ends Sept.10! Find out more here: http://www.cnu.org/small-scale-developer-boot-camp-maine
The Soundtrack for this week…
Since we were talking a lot about hanging in there, I’ve just got to share Yogi Bhajan’s “Patience Pays” affirmation. The bonus with this video is that you can brush up on your Italian!