Habits are like muscles. Old habits are like body builder muscles - HUGE. Meanwhile, new habits, are like an atrophied muscle. - completely weakened from lack of use. This is why starting and sticking to a new habit is so difficult at first. It's hard. You feel sore after the first day of strengthening. The muscle gets tired easily because it's not strong yet.
Our brain is like our body this way. Each habit, acting like a muscle to move the our thoughts one way or another. My thoughts around consistency, for example, were outdated. My Inner Rebel is like a stubborn teenager sometimes, and feels that any structure, and lack of spontaneity, is "boring, and I don't wanna do it." Yeah, real rational, like most of our Ego parts.
The truth is, it's difficult at first, and an irrational and emotional part of myself doesn't want to feel the discomfort that comes with getting that atrophied muscle strong again. We are wired to avoid discomfort. It triggers our reptilian brain and that famous "fight or flight" response.
So I tried a different approach this time. Instead of just yelling at myself, "you should be more consistent about __(typically a very vague blank)__", I chose to start with something weekly, instead of daily. Gently easing myself into the idea. And I added a "social accountability" factor - I would post it on Facebook and Instagram. Being of service triggers my primary love language. This was very important for me.
The thing to be consistent about: meditation. Seated meditation with my eyes closed wasn't working well for me, and I wanted to try something different. So I began coloring. By simply observing my thoughts and feelings, while not letting them stop me from coloring, this personal practice quickly evolved into lessons I could share with the world. And after several weeks of waiting until the last minute to color a whole mandala (which can take up to 1-3 hours), I began coloring a little bit each day. Some days I forget, but most days, I don't because it's something I enjoy. Plus, I love seeing the row of mandalas growing on my Instagram feed (visual reinforcement is another great motivator).
Now, I look forward to coloring for 10-20 minutes before I go to bed. Or 15 minutes in the afternoon when I need a break from the stress of work. Yes, I get stressed out too! Even though I adore my new work as a coach, there are plenty of parts of this new career that stress me out. Total relaxation is not about being "zen" 100% of the time. Stressful shit is gonna happen from time to time. And that's ok! The trick is, to move through that stress quickly, and not wallow in it, or get stuck trying to analyze and problem solve. These are the kinds of letting go techniques I teach clients who work with me. There are many ways to let go, and the easiest one is always with the breath.
That's how I made my new habit of consistency stick. By setting up inspiration for the moments when I would wanna give up. By making it about more than just myself. It works for me, because I'm wired to Give. By tapping into that body builder size muscle of giving, and wanting to be of service, I created built-in support for the weaker muscle. When I was frustrated, and didn't want to color my mandala, I'd remind myself that it wasn't about me anymore, it was about you too. My audience may be small now, but even if it only helps one person, than I must do it for that one person AND myself. It's for both of us.
Now, I'd love to hear from you: what new habit would you like to incorporate into your life? How can you attach it to an existing good habit, so that new one makes it through it's initial resistance and discomfort? What visual motivation can you create to keep you going when you feel like giving up?
Lemme know in the comments below!
And in case you missed it on the social media, here's Mandala Lesson from this week (#16!):
Lots of Love,