If you find yourself stumbling, find the courage to believe in yourself again.
A very close friend of mine and I recently promised to recommit to our New Year’s resolutions focused around health and work.
We planned for a cleanse, yoga two to three times a week, hikes and bike rides, getting back into our writing practice and consciously disconnecting from social media for mini mental vacations throughout the week.
Our intention was moving and shaking of the best kind.
The first few days kicked off to a great start: we woke up early, left our phones behind to soak up some Vitamin D on a hike, grabbed fresh organic juices for lunch and got our butts to the studio for some sweaty asana therapy.
Best of all, I was churning out at a few pages a day, set up a freelance writing profile and completely redesigned my website—a task I had been putting off for months! We were feelin’ good, feelin’ great. Endorphins were buzzing, momentum was building, positivity was in the air.
Unfortunately, a few days into it, things began to slip. My friend began oversleeping, skipping out on gym dates, constantly texting mid-conversation and opting for frozen yogurt lunches in lieu of salad. What had initially started out as an empowering partnership had quickly slipped backwards into lackadaisical sloth life.
What’s more, I found the more I let their lack of commitment slide, the more likely I was to skimp out on things. I felt bummed, lazy and ultimately let down.
Ironically, the “very close friend” I’m speaking of happens to be me.
I made a promise to myself to recommit to the things I know make me a happy, thriving human being and subsequently bailed out on myself mid-race. If this had been a friend outside of myself, I would be capital “P”—Peeved at their lack of follow through and commitment to their word. On top of that, I would most likely find a kind way to ask them why they were bailing out on our plans and ultimately on me.
So why then, when it comes to ourselves, do we tend to let these things slide?
Because it’s easier to sink back into old habits than it is to make dynamic change.
Habits are comfy, familiar and welcoming, especially in the face of change. Habitual ways of thinking and acting can, until we are awakened to them, define most of our decisions (and indecisions) in life. By definition, habit is “a settled tendency or usual manner of behavior acquired by frequent repetition.”
These are not inherent to our existence as human beings, they’re built up over time. And like anything else built up over time, they can be altered and eventually torn down to make room for new foundations.
In yoga, we practice ahimsa (non-harming) and learn that the path of least resistance is not always the best one; just because it’s easier to stick your butt out and arch your back in chair pose doesn’t mean it’s going to help your body. In fact, it’s most likely going to end up hurting you if done often enough.
Instead, the best thing might initially feel difficult because it strays from your norm and requires sustained effort, but ultimately these conscious changes, these commitments to our own promises, create ease and build a foundation of self trust capable of moving mountains. Or at least getting your butt to the gym on time.
In the long run, getting honest about your habitual thought patterns, actions and judgements can only lead to good things.
Seeing them is the first, and perhaps most important, step towards letting them go. Once in front of you they lose their power. Instead of them slyly taking over, you can opt out in favor of conscious decisions made in tune with your intention. You find yourself awake and living in a world of dynamic, positive action. In other words it’s like saying:
“Heyo habits, I just want to let you know it’s been nice having you around for all this time and you’ve helped me get this far in life, but times are a-changing and we’re trying to get some real work done here! Hasta luego hombre! Travel safe.”
Most importantly, we must release self-judgement.
I’m great at identifying my habits, analyzing them, writing a five paragraph essay on where they come from and how to get rid of them (ahem); and not so great at accepting, forgiving and loving myself, habits included.
Embracing self love and non-judgement is a promise I’ve made to myself.
And if we’ve learned anything at all, it’s that keeping the promises you make to yourself might be the most important commitment ever.
Kelsey lives, writes and practices yoga in Napa, CA. Currently enrolled in her first 200-hour Teacher Training at YogaWorks in Walnut Creek, CA she can also be found pouring wine in the tasting room of one of Napa’s most prestigious wineries while pursuing freelance writing and as much French cheese as possible on the side.
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Assistant Ed: Wendy Keslick/Ed: Bryonie Wise