Can you relate to any of these?
You know you should cut back on sugar
…dive deep into your writing
…reach out to friends more
…start (or finish) that creative project
BUT….Life happens. Time flies.
There are family responsibilities, work commitments, rainy days and Netflix. And honestly, we can do a whole lot of unfair beating up on ourselves over this kind of thing, so I’m not here to drill-sergeant or guilt you into anything.
Instead, I want you to get curious.
In that split second before you give in to temptation and don’t honor your highest priorities, what emotion are you having?
I promise there’s some kind of discomfort. Look for it.
You might recognize the feeling right away (e.g., panic, overwhelm, unworthiness, exhaustion). Or, it may take a while – weeks even, to get clear on what exactly you feel. But stay at it.
The moment before you reach for that cookie, check Facebook again, or avoid doing the work your soul is calling you to do, TAKE ONE DEEP BREATH and BE CURIOUS.
What’s there? What’s true and real for you in that instant?
Whatever emotion you discover…
- Remember, it’s completely valid (and probably took root in a past experience).
- It’s providing key information we can use to shift your pattern.
Now, I want you to ask yourself a question related to the feeling you just identified. Ask yourself this:
What’s missing here?
In the midst of that uncomfortable feeling, what are you longing for? Perhaps you feel overwhelmed and what’s missing is you being able to run away to a calmer place. Maybe you feel vulnerable and need protection. Maybe you crave the loving guidance or instruction of a trusted elder.
Whenever we have a pattern of not doing what is deeply important to us, it’s often because at some point we developed that strategy of avoidance or self-soothing (or whatever it is for us) in order to offset a vital need that wasn’t being met in our environment.
This is important because you can meet those needs NOW in your life today – and it can totally change the pattern (especially if you do it consciously – see below).
Step #1: Get curious, and identify the feeling that triggers your behavior.
Step #2: Ask yourself, “What’s missing here?” (What quality – e.g., safety, comfort – could come into the environment and ease your discomfort?)
Step #3: Consciously choose to bring in what’s missing – in a healthy way.
For example, if you sense that protection is missing, you can actively create a sense of being protected by covering your shoulders or head with a blanket. Or, you could ask your partner to sit with you for a few moments and literally “have your back” by placing a hand on your shoulder blades.
If comfort is missing and you need to be soothed, try bringing that in with pleasant sensual items like a soft fuzzy throw, a warm cup of tea with almond milk, an Epsom salt bath, hugs from loved ones, and so on.
Finally…Step #4: BRING CONSCIOUSNESS TO YOUR EXPERIENCE.
(In order for the process to work, this step is crucial.)
While your need is being met, breathe and FEEL IT. Stop time for a moment and deeply drink the nourishment in. Let your nervous system recognize that this good thing you’ve been needing is finally, actually happening.
The more you do this, the more your patterns of avoidance or procrastination or not finishing things will disappear (gracefully and without struggle), and the easier it will be to stay on track in your life.
This Method in Action
Here’s how a client of mine handled a major pattern of procrastination. She wanted to create an online course on financial health. She had lots of experience and wisdom to share, and knew exactly how she wanted the material laid out. But, she couldn’t bring herself to get started.
I encouraged her to try this process, and what she realized was that sitting alone with a blank page gave her absolute terror. Where to begin? There was something about having to start all by herself that was totally overwhelming.
When she wondered what was missing, she saw that she had a deep longing for connection and encouragement.
So, she asked a close friend if they could exchange an hour of time. The friend agreed to sit with her and be moral support while she got started on the course outline and began writing the first lesson. (In turn, her friend needed help getting active, so my client went for a hike with her.)
The whole time that my client was beginning the course writing (and many times after), she’d take a deep breath and allow herself to feel what it was like to have someone be very present and help her with a difficult task.
Taking those moments for her nervous system to realize she wasn’t alone helped her tremendously. Plus, the experience of having someone to be creative with was actually fun. Her course wound up doing great and brought in over ten thousand dollars in the first month.
I’d love to hear from you now! In the comments below, tell me:
What is one thing you have been not following through on?
How would your life be different if you could approach it differently?