You know what you should do? You should eat better, exercise more, be more productive, feel better, do more … oh, and you should do it NOW, or perhaps in 30 days or less. And be ecstatically happy while doing it, of course ...
However, you can’t, can you? And why the hell not?
Because you’re human.
Not because you are weak, or because you are not good enough, or because your parents failed you, or because you're lacking the right technique. Nope.
It’s because you're not a robot. You are instead, a magnificently complex, human being.
You are a sophisticated social creature, who needs support, care, and attention in order to shift gears. You are made of flesh and blood and chemicals and synapses, which cannot be simply reprogrammed on a whim.
And exactly because you are not a robot, I've decided to start a blog series called 'Things to stop beating yourself up for.'
Here's number one ...
Stop beating yourself because you can't ‘just do it’
Studies have shown that it takes smokers an average of seven attempts to quit smoking before they are able to finally quit for good.
Now imagine if we started using the number seven as a baseline? Not just with smoking, but with anything you wanted to achieve in your life – with being confident, making friends, eating healthier ... or following your purpose.
Imagine if you gave yourself at least seven chances to try and fail before you were even allowed to think about doubting yourself?
(And remember, the number seven here is just an average, meaning sometimes it will be less, and sometimes much more).
How often have you rushed in to condemn yourself because you didn’t manage to do something on the first, or second, or fourth, or sixth try?
Imagine what might be different in your life, if instead of seeing your struggles as failure, you simply offered yourself more time, more attention, and more care as you followed through on the process of change?
The consequence ...
Everything has a consequence. The consequence of acknowledging the interminable, failure-ridden reality of human change means ... that you are left with no excuses NOT to change.
Now. This is the REAL challenge. Because the truth is, a huge reason why we choose to beat ourselves up instead of simply buckling down and sticking with it for the long haul, is that change is difficult. Change is hard.
I see this again and again in my practice. Clients come in telling me they can’t change. When we overcome their blocks, however, and get them into a space where they could change if they wanted ... they still hold back.
Why? Because staying the same (even if that same is very painful) is comfortable and known.
After steeping in a sense of struggle and doubt for many years, those constrictive feelings actually begin to feel safe.
In comparison, the gear shift that happens when we start to move in a different direction ... into optimism, hope, positivity, and empowered action ... now that's just plain frightening.
So just notice that. Once you start leaning into the reality that change takes time ... once you stop beating yourself up for not being faster ... once you start offering yourself support when you fail rather than condemnation ... things will start to open up. They will start to feel different. Frightening, strange, new.
And the mistake to avoid in this moment of newness, is to turn back to what you know because it feels more comfortable – to retreat into the fuzz of confusion and self-doubt and same-old-same-old because it feels more familiar to you than the outrageous openess of clarity and hope.
What I've come to see as a coach is that the real work I do with my clients is not in overcoming their blocks.
Overcoming blocks does take attention and time, but if you are willing to get curious and hope, then it really comes down to engaging with those seven times, and adjusting what is not working each go.
What I've come to see as my real work comes afterwards ... in supporting my clients through that exhilarating moment where they get to ask the question themselves: now that I'm free of my self-doubt, what should I do next?