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Catastrophising

On minimalift

My wife-to-be is wired for disaster. At the first hint of trouble, her mind runs through every possible worst case scenario, and by the way she reacts you’d think all of them had happened at once.

Here’s a typical example. This morning, she woke up feeling exhausted. It was 6.30am and she had an appointment with her trainer - thankfully not me - at 8am. She was all but ready to cancel because she felt she hadn’t had enough sleep. I pointed out that we had gone to bed at 10pm the night before (that rockstar lifestyle), and even with a couple of disturbances that’s still nearly eight hours. Yet, I still had a struggle on my hands convincing her to just show up and see what happens.

Lo and behold, she had a great session, and even remarked that the weights felt light today. Notice the word “feeling” has come up twice now, once in the negative and later in the positive. I could trot out the old “how you feel is a lie” cliche but that’s done to death now. What I wanted to bring to your attention is the catastrophising that happens when things aren’t going as planned.

Let’s compare that example with my current training situation. I injured my right hip last week front squatting. It hurt a fair bit and left me limping, but I shrugged it off as no big deal. A couple of days rest and gentle somatic movement and I’ll be good to go. Sure enough, I was feeling fine on Wednesday, just in time for more squatting. Even more pain, yet I stubbornly finished my sets. More limping, more rest. Okay, no more squatting til I’m healed but still I’m comfortable with the disruption to the program.

Saturday morning and I’m down at the national centre, and my snatch has gone to pieces. The pain in my hip is so bad that I’m unintentionally narrowing my base in the receive position. I’ve seen this before in a fellow weightlifter who had hip troubles; it’s an automatic response guarding the site of pain. By now, many beginner and intermediate lifters would be out of their minds with angst about not being able to train, racked with frustration and feeling helpless.

Forming New Habits – Baby Steps

On Zen Wednesday

I am going to come right out and say it….I have high aspirations for myself. There are so many places I want to go, experiences I want to try, lifestyle tweaks I want to make and goals I have set for myself that it can all get to be a little overwhelming. Couple this with the fact that I want to live a mindful life, one where I enjoy the journey and stay grateful and rooted in the present moment (without stressing out over unknown future outcomes) and this only exasperates the problem. How do you continue down a path towards growth and self-improvement, while still living in the present? How do you overcome the very human tendency towards procrastination? How do you make the time and space for positive change in your life when you’re so busy with the current version? I think it comes down to the old adage that you just put one foot in front of the other and keep walking in the direction you want to go.

If you’re like me and really want to make positive improvements in your life, you may also fall into the trap of setting ridiculously high expectations for yourself which can lead to disappointment and frustration. I can rattle of a laundry list of things I want to change, or start, or do more consistently, but the truth is while I get inspired by things I see, read, and hear; I don’t always make a plan to take action. I have noticed that the things we do consistently, we do so because they become habit. I talked about starting a blog for months and months before I actually sat down and started writing one….and I am so glad I did. Blogging has really changed my perspective on the world. I listen more and ask people to explain or expand upon their ideas because it might spark something for me to write about. I pay more attention. I experiment more because the results may be worth blogging about. And by making myself accountable for two posts a week, and doing this consistently….the whole blogging thing has become HABIT. It is now part of my regular routine, which makes it seem easy and normal, not a struggle.

This got me thinking about how I can make other changes in my life that actually “stick”. I realize that lofty goals are great and all, but you can’t tackle everything at once and expect good results. There’s a reason the tem “baby steps” is so widely used and that’s because it works. Changing one small habit is totally do-able, and it also helps you learn how to make and keep promises to yourself so you start to trust that you are capable of change. I think it’s perfectly okay to start small and build big. Sure, I can see the type of person I ultimately aspire to be, but I am gonna keep taking those baby steps to get there. My husband tells me I sometimes spend too much time “doing” and not enough time “being”. Baby steps give me the chance to “be”. They let me enjoy the journey, while continuing to move closer to my goals.

Other observations on this subject include the need for triggers. Willpower alone is never enough. Research indicates that willpower can be a finite resource, there will be days when you are tired and you use it up on other things. It’s in those situations you need to have a plan for continuing on. Which is why breaking a desired change into smaller steps can work; it creates momentum that can be built on.

Something to look out for on the path to change (for me at least), is procrastination. It’s lurking behind every good intention. I need to be mindful of the urge to go to distraction, to run from the discomfort of making a change. We rationalize our way out of starting something new, we drag our feet….and procrastination’s cousin “all or nothing” thinking, is usually not far behind. I messed up today, so I should just give up. How many times have we fallen into that particular trap?

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