Using Awareness to Shift Out of Stuckness
You know those pesky things that you want to change but never seem to be able to shift?
Do you struggle to meditate or exercise daily even when you know it is good for you? Or do you keep procrastinating on cleaning out your messy closet? Do you have the best intentions to improve your diet but can’t seem to stop yourself from eating that candy bar at 3 pm each day? Do you find yourself checking FaceBook instead of attending to the project you really want to complete?
Why is change so challenging?
Changing our behaviors, even little things, can mentally seem so easy but in reality be difficult, partially because we are used to the behavior and it is familiar (even if it causes us to suffer) and partially because there are old beliefs at work keeping the pattern in place.
To come back into choice rather than living from default we need to crank up our awareness and be willing to turn towards and befriend discomfort. Often doing what you have always done is easy because it is familiar, even if it causes you suffering. We would rather suffer something that is known then turn to the unknown as we enter the unfamiliar territory of new behaviors. And we often are taking actions to avoid the underlying uncomfortable emotions and fears.
Be brave dear ones! And let your awareness guide you to sticking with what you want.
Here are five ways to support yourself to stay true to your commitment:
Be aware, make a new choice
If you notice yourself being tempted by an old pattern (you reach for the cookie when you committed to stop eating sugar; you feel resistant and just want to go to bed instead of meditating for the 10 minutes you agreed to; you notice yourself judging your thighs when you committed to self-love…) pause and take a deep breath. Notice what stimulated the thoughts and how you are feeling. Simply show up with yourself and be aware of all aspects of yourself: mind, emotions, body. Relax your shoulders, soften your belly. Take another breath and slow down.
Sit with the discomfort
Don’t try to change, force, or push yourself. Just notice where the discomfort is. Get curious: what is the deeper motivation behind your action? Is it simply a habit, or is your mind telling you something that is stimulating a response? Let your deep breathing and soft belly help you to stay with any emotions without an agenda. Do a body scan: start from your toes or the top of your head and feel notice where you are holding tension or fear. Is your throat tight, or are your hands clenched? Witness first, then deepen your breath into the stuck, fearful places.
Restate your intent
Remind yourself why you are taking new action. What is your why? “I’m giving up sugar so I can become healthier and more stable,” “I’m meditating for 10 minutes each day to create a stronger connection to my faith and stillness,” “I’m bringing in self-love to replace self-judgment so I can become my best friend.” Hold the bigger picture to remind yourself that your choices are not about sacrifice or denial out of punishment, but come from a desire to change and embody more love and self-support.
How can I…
Ask yourself how you can best support yourself during this time of transition from one behavior or way of being to another. Listen beneath the noise of your mind for a deeper truth. Your wise self is waiting for you to reach out a hand and ask for help. As you learn to open your awareness, stay with the discomfort, restate your intent, and listen with your full body for guidance you’ll hear a little voice speaking clear truth or simply know what your next step is.
As you grow the muscle of your awareness you will start to see the bigger picture of what causes you to take actions that go against your intent. You’ll catch yourself more quickly and course correct earlier. You’ll see the actions that drain your energy and the things that light you up. Keep witnessing and taking new actions. If you stumble and go back to an old pattern, simply pay attention to what precipitated your choice and go through the steps above. Choose again. And again and again. Every day is a new day, every moment a new opportunity. And life become much more simple when we walk with let our witness be the one holding our hand and supporting us rather than our judge or victim.