Hey darling readers! If you follow me on social media, you may know that I am writing an ebook. For almost a year I've been coaching others with the same simple, effective self care practices that have helped me to sustainably transform my own health -- body/mind/spirit.
Seeing how quickly my clients can transform their lives with just 10 weeks of concentrated, supported self care is way inspiring. It makes me want to shout out from the roof tops that IT'S SO MUCH EASIER THAN WE THINK IT IS!
But most of us overcomplicate it and then give up. This makes me sad because it's UNTRUE. It also makes me sad because I spent a lot of years believing untrue things about myself.
So I think the internet version of shouting from the rooftops is writing an ebook and offering it out widely. Writing is a habit, like exercising and going to bed early, so I've been working to set up some new patterns. I'm up before the sun rises now, typing away with a warm beverage (ok, it's sometimes coffee), Poncho still snoozing by my feet, a sleepy but supportive spirit animal.
And it's fun! Below is an excerpt that deals with why dramatic habit change just doesn't work. Read, enjoy, and get ready for the whole deal debuting in (fingers crossed) early July.
From the Self Care Manual for Your Beautiful Life (Note: working title but I'm open to suggestions!):
I've come to discover that diets (or any willpower-based effort) are quite like dating a narcissist.
The allure of both seduces us. On the first date they hold our hand and paint a picture of a lovely future together. They tell us the part about frolicking on the beach at sunset, awash in contented smiles and shiny hair. This vision causes us to let our guard down and believe we have really found the “one” that can save us from ourselves.
This vision carries us when said narcissist stand us up the first time. The vision tells us to forgive her while she forgets our birthday and when he picks a fight during our sister’s wedding. It holds some part of us steady as the rest of our world flips upside down. We know we are forgetting our most basic common sense but something about it feels so good!
Do you relate? Having dating a few narcissists and gone on a few diets I understand the appeal of both. I love the thrill of the better future as much as the next person. But from my experience, I will hold your hand and lovingly tell you that it's never going to work.
Why? Because these things aren't meant to work. They are meant to keep you in an addictive cycle failure that causes you to go buy another diet book (or commit to another disappointing date). Not only will you never make it to that beach by sunset, but you'll begin believing all sorts of untrue thoughts about yourself in the process. Such as...
“Maybe I’m just not meant to be in a relationships.”
“My childhood sucked and this is why nothing ever works out.”
“I know I shouldn’t call him (or eat the brownie or pour the second glass of wine) but I have no self control.”
“I can never change because I’m just lazy.”
That last one about laziness particularly gets me. I truly don’t believe any of us are lazy. We are just in dysfunctional relationships with our goals and dreams. We expect too much of ourselves and never develop a workable game plan to get there. We don't ask for support or invest in ourselves.
So what does work? Dating the cute funny person who makes you laugh, rubs your feet, and subtly reminds you of your awesomeness just in the way he/she gazes at you.
The habit-change version of said great partner is called Kaizen, a Japanese word that means “good change.” It teaches that nothing is wrong with you and from that place of inherent self worth, you can always improve your habits little by little.
It tells that you that are worth working on and that if you keep looking for and implementing small, smart ways to improve your daily habits, you’ll eventually reach and then surpass your self care goals.
Plus, in the meantime the process will be enjoyable, because it's a bit like a game where you are always looking for that next tiny improvement. Since the process never ends, then you get to relax into the positive flow and realize that you actually like doing this work on yourself.
Since replacing willpower with Kaizen, I've noticed I have more time in my life. Being out of integrity takes a huge amount of energy.
Think about the time when you stayed up two nights in a row to hang out with your self-absorbed new girlfriend and how crazy tired you felt by the end. Perhaps it felt the same way when you cut out all carbs for a week and then shame-ate that pie on Sunday night.
Slow and steady progress will save your energy so you can create real change without burning yourself out and reverting to bad habits. This will also build really good self esteem because suddenly you are this person who is changing her life. It will get more fun to look into the mirror and see her smiling back at you.
I began shifting my morning routine by meditating for 10 minutes while my then-partner walked the dog. It was a tiny investment of time but when I did it, just for a few weeks, it felt like I was making progress.
It inspired me enough to eventually add in 20 minutes of exercise--yoga or a little jog. Now, two years later, these practices are automatic. I don't always feel like doing them but it doesn't feel like an option not to. I call this the choiceness-choice.
Refining my morning routine will be a life-long process. Knowing this, I’m enjoying where I am today. Although it's never perfect, the benefits of a more energetic and relaxed morning carry me throughout the day. I can rest easy knowing that my base needs are taken care of in the first hour of my day.
It may sound unsexy but if we want to change, we have to start here and now. Look for opportunities to change something small and take on that small change with commitment. My guess is that there will be a voice in your head that says “c’mon you’ll never get anywhere if you ONLY do five minutes of meditation.” Label that voice "the narcissist" and politely disregard most of its commentary.
Then then sit your booty on your meditation cushion for five minutes and watch as your life opens up.
Diets and narcissists tell you they are sexy and that you aren't. They say that you could be if you hang out with them long enough. But the truth is that they are horrible cuddlers and you never sleep well by their side.
Kaizen tells you that you are sexy right now with your dear bright eyes and your sweet first-thing-in-the-morning breath. It pulls you close in to be the little spoon, whispers nice things into your hair and then tells you to go put on your running shoes--because you'll feel so much better when you do.