Don’t bother meditating, exercising or journaling
“I really need to start journaling but I keep putting it off.”
“I tried meditation, and it supported me in dealing with anxiety, but then the habit just slipped.”
“When I remember to __________, it really helps. I just don’t have the discipline to keep it up.”
If this sounds like you, it probably is. In fact, I hear it so often, I quoted some of my clients verbatim. (You know who you are!😉)
We all have good intentions that we don’t follow through on. For some, the intention is to do more: exercise, drink water, get up early, save money. For others, it is to do less: switch off at 5, get to bed early, say “no” to new projects.
Either way, we all find ways of not following through. It is like one part of us is trying to swim to the shore, while the other part just drags us further out to sea.
My advice to you, is to give up.
Yes, that wasn’t a typo. Allow your good intentions to simply sink away. Stop swimming in opposite directions. Stop telling yourself that ‘you will get around to it’, or that ‘you really do want to change’, or that ‘you just need to get through this next chapter’. In fact, write down an official declaration against your best intentions:
“I will not meditate ever again.”
“I will sleep until I wake up.”
“I will eat a tub of ice cream whenever I feel like it.”
“I will not even try to switch off from work at 5pm.”
Now read your own statement, and pay close attention to what happens in your mind, emotions, and physical sensations.
The power of honest surrender
If you try this exercise, you may notice any of the following:
Relief: The kind of relief when you stop struggling to swim against a heavy current. “I don’t have to do that thing anymore. I can just stick to what I’m doing now.”
Fear: The kind of fear you might feel when you realise you’re not getting closer to the shoreline: “What if things get even worse than they are, because I’m not pulling myself together!?”
Resistance: You may notice your inner critic going absolutely nuts. Like a panicked mom who sees her child swimming further out to the open water.
If you stay with the discomfort of this exercise for a little bit longer, you may learn something truly transformative…
Breaking the internal Stalemate
Part of you wants to make changes for the better, to reach a certain ideal.
Another part of you finds comfort in the status quo.
This Jekkyl & Hyde dynamic is inherent in all of us, and it’s easy to get trapped in a stale-mate of opposing energies. We convince ourselves that we will eventually do the thing / make the call / break the habit / get up early. “I just need to _______THEN I can…” But you can’t break the stale-mate by resisting harder – all you achieve is more internal resistance, conflict and exhaustion.
In lifesaving, they teach you that if the victim you’re trying to save starts pulling you underwater, you have to go down with them. By doing so, the drowning person let’s go of their grip, and you can get back to saving them.
In Aikido, when your enemy strikes, you don’t resist them and strike back – you blend with them – by going with the momentum of their attack, you can disable them without wasting energy, and without getting hurt.
In the same way, if you want to break your internal resistance, you first need to allow yourself to meet it, go with it, blend with it. Allow yourself to be the person who doesn’t want to change. Enter into an internal conversation with yourself. See what the resistant part of you wants to teach you, needs from you or has to offer.
We don’t change for the better by resisting ourselves, but by meeting ourselves with curiosity, compassion and companionship.
Questions for reflection
Ask the part of yourself that doesn’t want to change, the following questions:
- What do you want to teach me?
- What do you need?
- How does the proposed change make you feel, and what support do you need?
- How can we work together?
If you try this exercise, I would love to hear from you. You can send questions, reflections or challenges to me via my contact form.
If you feel that you could benefit from support in this area, I would love to do a free 30-minute discovery call with you. No cost to you – simply book in using the form below.