I am back and I apologize for my brief hiatus. I set out with the intention of posting weekly, more specifically every Wednesday, but sometimes life gets in the way. It's been a pretty busy month for me both in my professional and personal lives. I hope that summer will bring new focus and a little more free time to put into my writing.
I have been in the process of moving for the past month. We were able to find an incredible home in a seriously beautiful area. Tons of running trails, within walking distance of the farmer's market and the river, this place is awesome. The only problem was that this required us to move out of the city, gasp! This was a little difficult for me to do. When I moved to Richmond I saw myself living in the city and doing what city people do. I wanted to walk everywhere and sit in little coffee shops or work on my balcony overlooking a busy street below.
My city dream did not pan out well with actual city life. It is expensive and trying to get a sizable yard for my energetic puppy was near impossible. With the proximity to neighbors, you have to deal with all kinds of unexpected disturbances. From parties raging on to 6am on week days to my upstairs neighbor's untrained and very unruly dog, things were not peaceful… ever. Now, for a country girl that is accustom to quiet and privacy, it was a major adjustment. I realized that I was far more attached to my initial ideal city life than the realities of the situation.
I took a deep breath and signed a lease for a house just across the bridge and two miles from our current spot, but in whole different world. Although it was a big move, it was a significant change. It signified growing up in a way. We no longer live in an apartment and actually have to mow our own lawn. We have to pay our own water bill. Shit got real.
It can often be scary to let go of our old patterns, habits, and ideas even when they no serve us. Things that feel familiar bring comfort, no matter their true influence on our minds and spirits. This is why some may complain about not being able to find the right person, hating their job, or feeling depressed all the time, but never actually make any moves to change the situation. We are getting some type of reward from the situation, whether it be sympathy and attention or never actually having to put ourselves out there. It is important to recognize when we are allowing comfort and our beliefs to overtake our desire for change.
Moving into my new home has allowed me to begin to live a more authentic life. By authentic I mean living the way I have always wanted to live and knew was aligned with who I am as a person, but seemed a little too out of reach. For a long time I promised myself that one day I would eat better. One day I would making being active a part of my daily routine. One day I would find a way to spend more time outside. Now I’m actually doing those things and it feels great. On top of just feeling better in a physical sense, I no longer have that uncomfortable feeling in my stomach that something is not quite right.
I used my move to a better area to catapult me into the changes I wanted to make. Breaking habits is difficult and being in a new situation, such as a move, new relationship, or job can certainly make that change easier. Because I’m no longer in the same area or house, familiar things that would trigger old bad habits are no longer present. This is one situation that aided the formation my new habits, but it must begin by identifying our true goals and the reasons we are struggling to make those changes.
First of all we must identify which habit we would like to change. Would you like to lose weight, be in a great relationship, or overcome your depression? Get really clear on which habit you want to change and it’s best to just chose one in the beginning. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself and set yourself up to fail. So start with one.
As an example I’ll use one of mine, I wanted to be more active and fit. I have been slowly changing my dietary habits since January. I have cut out fast food and made the switch over to a vegetarian diet. This helped a lot with my health and how I felt about my body, but something was missing. I still had little energy and knew it was time to get a little more active.
Since high school I have gone through little spurts of being active. Playing a sport for two years, but not doing much during the off season. Going to the gym regularly for a month or two then quitting when I caught a cold or my schedule got a little busier. It was something I could convince myself to do for a brief period, but it was always short-lived and it seemed more and more difficult to start again after each break.
When trying to make changes, both our end goals and what has kept us from that goal are equally important to identify. I had to identify what I was getting out of not being active. After all, if there was nothing but misery to being inactive, I wouldn’t find it so hard to start a fitness routine or to stick to it. These are often referred to as “false beliefs” or “limiting beliefs” in the self-help world.
Limiting beliefs are the beliefs that exist in your subconscious keeping you stuck and from reaching your conscious goals. These are often untrue, but are your mind’s way of keeping you safe and away from change, which is always scary. Think of your subconscious as a child in a way. It’s your job to hear it out, reassure it that things are going to be okay, and hold its hand through the change. If not, that child will refuse to budge and probably throw a tantrum in the meantime.
I took the time to sit down and identify the beliefs I was holding. What was I getting out of being lazy? Well, for one, I had much more free time. Time that I always felt guilty about wasting online or by watching Netflix, so it was never really enjoyed. This time would be much better used doing something that would benefit myself. By going on long walks with my dog and boyfriend each day I would be getting extra time with them too, which would be a far better use of my time, I reassured myself.
Next, I didn’t have to deal with the disappointment if my body didn’t look quite like I wanted when not being active. I wasn’t trying to get in shape, so I could blame my laziness when I looked in the mirror and disliked my untoned arms and legs. When you’re active you take on more responsibility for changes you want in your body. If you’re working out hard but not seeing much of a difference, it’s a lot harder to accept than if you’re sitting on the couch every day after work.
This was the harder belief to confront. I had to reassure myself that being active wasn’t all about my body, but also my mental health as well. I had to remind myself that little changes from working out were better than none or gaining weight when being lazy. I had to comfort the child in me that feels reluctant to take any risks and promise that this would turn out great for me.
This situation was specific to me, but it can be applied to any goal you want to meet but can’t seem to really acheive. Want to be in a serious relationship with someone great but can’t seem to make any relationship last longer than your toothbrush? Could it be that you’re afraid to give up your freedom? Do you enjoy getting to whine about how awful men/women are and blame them for your singlehood? Are you afraid of really committing to someone and the compromising that comes with it? You could be subconsciously choosing partners that are incompatible or unavailable in order to protect yourself from your fears. Take the time to figure it out and be honest with yourself.
This exercise is one of the best things we can do for ourselves when wanting to live an authentic and happy life. We have to learn to both listen and comfort that scared inner child, because if we don’t, we will always be holding ourselves back whether consciously or not. It takes work, but getting to know ourself inside and out is incredibly rewarding and will improve our life drastically. It must be a daily practice, but it is one of the most important things we can do for a better life. Take the time to give yourself some love and affection today, every day, you deserve it.
“To conquer oneself is a greater victory than to conquer thousands in a battle.” – The Dalai Lama