Life doesn’t always follow a linear line. And it’s not always a nice easy plain sailing, or a gently sloping uphill path, either.
You may have noticed?!
Take, changing a habit for instance. How many times have you come across a setback.
The blink of an eyelid
We can make the decision to change a habit in the blink of an eyelid. It can take no time to assert the intention to make the change. And we can be very certain, in that moment, that we’re going to stick to it.
Maybe you’re determined to stop crossing your legs when you sit down…or perhaps something else that your physio advised you might be beneficial!?
The process of creating the change has to start with seeing a good enough reason to do so. Perhaps you’ve been in pain? Maybe there’s some other, underlying reason to changing the habit, but either way, we need an emotional connection to the reason to creating the change.
And emotional connection takes the onus off our willpower. Willpower acts as a short-lived push…maybe to help us get over the finishing line in some race, or with some project. And it’s useful!
But it’s not a sustainable power. An emotional driver, however, is a longer term, better-sustained pull for us towards our goal…over time.
Connect to the emotion – the reason why the change is important to you – and the decision to create the change can be asserted in a split second.
But in reality, changing a habit will take time!
This is not to doubt anyone’s ability to reinforce the ‘new’, but by their very nature habits are ingrained, and so our wiring will unconsciously take us back to doing the things the way that we always did them before…
…until we become more conscious in our actions, so that we can get a grasp on when the old shows itself and how to actively action our updated ‘new’.
And then there are setbacks.
Ah, setbacks. When we’re making superb forward moving motions and when we start to feel pleased with ourselves that we’re definitely going in a positively uphill direction, then come the setbacks.
Always. Just as we’re feeling a little confident and possibly even a little cocky, the set backs set in.
They happen to everyone. Everyone.
They’re a test.
Our setbacks are a little test for us: do you really want it? How much do you want it? Enough to traverse-the-next-valley-to-get-to-the-next-uphill want it…?
Actually they’re not just a test of our resolve. They’re also a very good indicator that we’re growing.
Whenever we make a positive shift in our lives, we have to let go of the old. If we’re aiming towards a physical shift, there will always have to be some sort of emotional shift too.
As we implement the change, some of our old stuff may rise to the surface and literally ‘floor’ us… It happens when we’ve met the edge of our comfort zone, and we’re being invited to let go of something old – to push out our boundaries and to move into a more expanded version of what we previously were.
These are what the setbacks offer us.
They’re not just a moment to reassert our desires. Yes, that. But in doing that, we are stating that the old comfort zone is no longer where we want to settle…that we want to explore more and to become more.
Life doesn’t follow that positive direction all of the time, because we have to slip-slide back down the slope again sometimes – even if it’s just a little bit – in order to get back on the path, and continue once more.
It’s not about seeing the setbacks as a failure (because this ‘ever onward and upward’ facing path to success is hypothetical!), it’s about knowing that life is comprised of these gently undulating hillocks! It’s an ebb and flow, a tide, a wave and it’s there for us to learn how to catch it and ride it; to learn how to dance with it.
Compassion in our discomfort
As we meet this uncomfortable edge between what was and what can be, the only way to deal with it is to be compassionate with ourselves.
To acknowledge that we’ve fallen off the-good-and-the-great path, and that it’s normal and usual, and that it’s also a part of the journey to the top (an ever a blind summit, by the way!).
Acknowledge, chuckle at ourselves and then reassert our positive intentions, but with compassion, not by berating ourselves. It’s the only way because that’s charitable and loving as well as mature and adult.
I happen to think that our setbacks occur to serve us, really. If it were all plain sailing, what would be the point of aiming to achieve something new? Striving for something difficult is about allowing ourselves to growing… To let go of something that is no longer working for us, so that we can grow into a new mould.
The setbacks, the melt-downs, the binges – they enable us to reassert not only the new way, but also to reassert the original intention. To remind ourselves why we’re doing what we said that we wanted.
So those little tests – they are a test of our resolve, but also they’re a test of our ability to love ourselves, and how compassionate can we be with these heaven-sent setbacks…