In The 30 Day Lift, we explore how to change ‘bad’ habits from a place of ease rather than a place of stress.
Today I want to talk about how you can stretch into your deeper capacity – how you can bring your strongest self to the table, the wisest, strongest part of you who knows how to walk through the discomfort of change.
Why change can feel so tender, and hard
One of the ironic aspects of healing is that temporarily, we move into a place of greater stress as we grow. Change brings newness, uncomfortable feelings, emotions, and body sensations, it brings tenderness as we move into areas that feel new, uncertain, tenable – those places where we’re being stretched into a deeper capacity.
So it’s important to remember that with the discomfort, this capacity is also there. (This is the internal voice that says, “You can handle this.”)
There is so much capacity inside you. Have you had moments where you’ve glimpsed it? Perhaps when you’ve done something that surprised you, or when you saw qualities of strength or patience emerge – when you realized you were much stronger and more capable than you thought you were?
Can you think of a moment – even with the very habit that’s driving you nuts – when you were able to respond to cravings or a strong, strong impulse with grace, courage, or wisdom?
Remembering your strength
It’s important to honor and remember those moments, because when you’re feeling stuck and caught in a bad habit, the stuckness may be the only thing you see.
It’s easy to discount and forget those times when you were able to say no to the sugar, when you were able to pause before sending the snarky email, when you were able to breathe rather than lash out at a loved one.
So let’s be with them, and really feel them – these stories of new life! Here’s an example.
“I can’t do that”
A few years ago, my son got a remote control drone (an airplane like device) for his birthday. A few months later, it broke, and I took it to the hobby store for help. They were able to order the replacement part, but they didn’t offer a repair service.
I don’t consider myself to be mechanical – in fact, there are a lot of family jokes about my lack of mechanical ability.
But that afternoon in the hobby store, I had to do what I didn’t think I could do: either I fixed the drone, or we had a broken drone. One of the salesman suggested that I replace the broken part there, in the store, and that I could ask questions along the way if I got stuck.
So I gave it a shot. At one point, one of the hobby store workers came by to see my progress. I told him that mechanical things were not my specialty and he said, “Hmmm. I’ve been watching you, and I think you’re doing just fine. I think you’re a lot more capable then you think you are.”
Taken aback by his perspective, I stood a little taller, and kept going.
An hour or two later – with lots of help, and lots of questions – I’d fixed the drone.
I felt a bloom of pride when I inserted the final screw, turned on the drone, and it successfully began flying around the room. Seeing my son’s eyes light up was the best part!
This happened to be a time when I was feeling a lot of intense depression and anxiety, and was really struggling and grappling with the pain of it. That afternoon in the hobby store was a much needed gift, a glimpse into another reality. It gave me pause, and wonder, and hope – perhaps my view of myself was incomplete, and not true.
Where is your view incomplete?
What is your ‘drone story?’ Where have you have had experiences when you got a glimpse of another capacity inside yourself – when you wondered – perhaps my view of myself is incomplete, and not true?
And how can these capacities help you in changing your habits with sugar, or wherever you’re struggling?
Three key thoughts:
- I didn’t fix the drone alone. I had a lot of support from my hobby store helpers – both practical, hands on help – “Is this the right place to insert the rotor blade?” – and emotional support – “I think you’re doing just fine.” Where do you need help and support to make the changes you’d like to make with sugar, or other habits?
- Connecting with your strengths helps you ride the inevitable waves, the ups and downs of life, and counters the voice of panic or collapse that says, “Nothing’s working.”
- There’s a gift right where you are. The place where you most struggle – the area where you feel lacking or deficient – is the exact place where something longs to be born in you, and where change is likely to occur. After fixing my son’s drone, rather than thinking, “I’m not mechanical,” I came to see that I could be mechanical – I just needed the right instruction, help, tools, and support. I also needed to give myself spaciousness, to not rush, so I could proceed step by step.
Where do you feel deficient? You may think, “I don’t have will power, I’m not strong. I’m too sensitive, I’m too needy. I don’t have what it takes to change this habit.” But these thoughts are incomplete.
You aren’t missing anything. It’s not like strength passed you by, or was only given to a chosen few! You have these qualities, too, inside – you may simply need help, support, and spaciousness to fully embody and express them.
That feels a lot better, and a lot different than, “there’s something wrong with me.”
It sounds so simple – to remember our strengths, to spend time feeling them and feeling them in us, to give ourselves support so that these strengths can emerge – but the simple things often help the most.
The next time you find yourself facing a huge craving, or when you feel discouraged, like you’ll never change or grow, take a few moments, take a deep breath, and re-member – where have I surprised myself? Where have I seen growth? What capacities live inside me?
And what kinds of support will help these capacities grow and bloom?