Many of the tried and true practices offered to enhance self-growth, personal development, and build relationships are quite simple in theory. The concepts are easy to understand, make sense ethically and logically, and they sound easy to implement. And, they would be easy to practice if we were doing them with our whole heart and mind, but we usually aren't. Instead, they compete with the conditioned behaviors and responses which, (although they are hidden from our conscious mind) are our default operating mode. We try to insert a new practice into a maze of conflicting priorities. We are stressed and exhausted and worried while longing to realize our personal truth, deepest goals and essential selves.
One of the most common mistakes we make when we start a new practice for self-growth, is to expect results to happen immediately. If they don't, we think the practice isn't working and give up. Most people don't test the efficacy of a new practice by giving it enough time to become a pattern compelling enough to replace the old behavior or problem. We really want there to be a magic remedy - something that comes from outside of us and fixes everything. We may know that the only lasting changes we make come from within, but we wish a lightning bolt solution would strike us and fix what ails us!
Many people experience the beginning stages of empowerment of our true essence at retreats, or in places where the environment does not contain our usual stressers and triggers. We leave these experiences euphoric and motivated. But, when we get home and are no longer isolated from our day-to-day lives, our the ability to maintain that state of mind is sorely challenged. The autopilot reactions we learned to cope with conflict and unwanted stimuli step back into the forefront again, unless we are very aware and consistently practice the strategies or methods we have chosen to improve our life experience.
When you decide what you want to do to improve your experience of life, whether it is
eating healthier foods, getting more exercise, meditation, practicing mindfulness, spiritual study, or another creative expression, you need to keep at it daily so it has the opportunity to become as easy for you as your current behaviors are. Our undesired behaviors and reactions had many years to become habit, so we need to allow the new activity time to be cultivated, grow, and blossom.
Here are a few techniques you can use to keep your focus and re-commit to your new practices daily:
- Remembering that creating and sustaining new behaviors takes thought and effort at the beginning
- Remembering why we chose to do this - what are the benefits we are intending
- Finding ways to create the intended benefits throughout the day in smaller units, in addition to regular more lengthy practice
- Approach the new practice as a pleasure because of the benefits it provides, rather than focusing on how difficult it is because it is new and different
- Tracking progress and challenges in a journal or log - puts more intention into the activity
I encourage you to contact me to let me know how the ideas and suggestions from these blogs are working for you. I want to hear about what works best, where you are challenged, and any adaptations you have discovered. You can reply directly to the blog or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.