I wake up in the morning generally pretty ready to start my day. I am not one of those people who have to set an alarm to get out of bed. I am one of those annoying morning people much to the frustration of most of my housemates and loved ones who have to tolerate my morning chattiness. In my quiet times, I make sure I have time to myself and do something that helps me recharge.
I have made some conscious choices in my life; I try to live a balanced life and make time for study, work, play, and good experiences. I am more mindful of the people I let into and keep in my life, and overall consider my wellbeing as a higher priority than I have previously. I like to read articles on relationships, self-improvement, love and healthy relationships and consider inspirational quotes that offer me perspective. As such, I try to be one of those people who apply the things they read and learn, and integrate valuable lessons into my life.
Inspirational articles, information or conversations are great, especially if they plant the seed towards positive change. However, this is for the times when there is a discrepancy between having the knowledge and then applying it into practice.
This is for the times then we assume change is going to be a linear process, whereas it is absolutely not. The ‘setbacks’ don’t necessarily mean you’re back at square one. They are also the parts of progress that are seldom discussed.
There are rare days when I say hell no to meditating, spend extra time in bed and grab a coffee and eat tim-tams for breakfast. Sure, I know what the advice says I ‘should’ be doing, but there is gap between that knowledge and my present motivation and capacity. During times like this, I want to retreat into a cocoon and allow myself to stay static instead of striving towards a better lifestyle. These are the days when I don’t want to read about the importance of super-foods, or the power of my breath or go for a power-walk. It’s not that these are necessarily wrong (on the contrary, these notions have a solid grounding in research), but it is okay to not get it ‘right’ all the time. The fact of the matter is, that some days, I can’t be arsed.
Here are to the moments when you need to sit back and acknowledge that improving or changing your patterns is hard work. A close friend who is making an effort to address her health by attending gym everyday after years of self-confessed neglect frequently says “F*** IT, I’M DONE,” has a cry, and then goes back, because she has committed herself to wellbeing (which is not just exercise-based, but nonetheless an apt example). I watch people navigate life changes such as quitting smoking, or changing their parenting habits, only to repeat patterns they had vowed not to.
On the road to change, even that which is ‘good’ for us or others around us, we are going to face speed bumps. This is one of the consequences of being human.
There is plenty of research highlighting the non-linear nature of change, where we ‘regress’ or repeat patterns that counter the logical moments whereby we actually know better. That is, even if we make the commitment to change, we have to remember the in-between process while our brains battle with the familiarity of old patterns versus the opportunity to reintegrate new ones. Our brains are actually programmed to repeat behaviours, even the ones that aren’t good for us, and while we’re changing it is likely that our old habits are sometimes going to get the best of us. In a conflict-free world, we’d be able to commit to a change and poof! we’re there.
The point here is to remember that committing to and maintaining change is difficult. The key is noting that regressing is often a part of the process, and a learning opportunity in disguise while we readjust to our new mode of thinking or behaviour. Self-work isn’t called ‘self-leisure’ or ‘taking time to gradually evolve.’ It is uncomfortable for a reason.
When you find yourself repeating old patterns, remember that it change is a process; sit for a bit, be wary of your patterns, and be mindful as to why you started in the first place.
So go on, fall off the horse. You know what’s next.