My husband looked straight into my depths and asked, “How come you keep returning to the same place?”
I’d felt it—over and over. Like a scratched record, I always seemed to cycle back to this place of feeling a lull in my health and waning motivation and intent in my movement practices. I cycled through feeling tired and less than great, to inspired with my movement and nutrition, then a few weeks of challenging sleep situations with my young kids and less support than usual, and I’d be right back to the start, saying, “I need to change something. I can feel it’s not working.”
I know I’m not alone.
How many times have you said, “I’m going to stop eating sugar,” or, “I’ll start going to yoga again next week”?
How come we can’t make it stick? How come taking care of ourselves always manages to fall away?
Why can’t we make (and take) time and space for ourselves to do the things that nourish us as the souls we are beneath the roles of mother, wife, daughter, friend, employee?
Life is busy—I get it. But it’s more than that.
We can stick with something when it’s truly important to us, at our core. So the reverse is true too, then. Things fall away when it’s somehow more important for us to not do them. Meaning it’s serving some part of us to not achieve the health and wellness we think we want. And we’ll never achieve it until we can dig up those stories and let them go.
This is about looking at how we sabotage ourselves and our own health and happiness—and we do it all the time.
You might be thinking, “I don’t do that. It’s just so hard for me to get out the door,” or, “I’d really like to do things for myself, but it’s just not practical.” But the truth is: you have to make the choices that align with what it is you really want to do, at the core of you, not the choices that align with the reasons you fear doing those things in the first place. And most of us do the latter way too often.
I had a client once tell me that she was so excited about the idea of going to Bali on a yoga teaching retreat, but she just couldn’t possibly leave her 12-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son for five days. I asked her how come, and she replied, “Well who would make their lunches, pick them up from school, take them to swimming and dancing, and…the house would fall apart if it was just them and their dad.”
“And would they be okay?” I asked. “Would it matter if they had different lunch that week? Would it matter that the floor wasn’t vacuumed?”
“I guess they’d survive,” she replied, almost sheepishly.
“How do you feel when you do all those things for your family?” I asked.
“Well, I’m their mum. That’s what makes me their mum. I feel important, and loved.”
“So, what do you fear might happen if you didn’t do those things?”
“They might not love or need me anymore…” her voice trailed off, sadly.
“Is that the truth?” I asked her. “Do you think they’d still love you if the house fell apart and they had takeout for five days straight?” I said.
“Oh, I see what you’re saying,” she sighed.
What we do for others is not what matters most. It’s who we are to them, which is first about who we are with and for ourselves.
My client went to the retreat. Her children survived. She came back wholehearted and full of more love for herself than ever—and she is now a full-time yoga teacher.
The point is this: we all have things we dream of doing, of becoming, but even the small stuff is hard when we get in our own way.
Instead of focusing our attention on regathering our motivation and starting over, again, it’s likely time for us to attend to how come these cycles are happening in the first place. It’s time for us to uncover how and why we’ve been getting in our own way.
Otherwise, we’ll keep finding ourselves in those places until we can break the circuits of our stories—the underlying motives and reasons we have for actually wanting to stay right where we are, for not really wanting change. The truth is that not changing is somehow serving us. It’s helping us feel safe and familiar, and it’s stopping us from moving into a phase that signals real transformation, which can be terrifying to our minds and egos.
My suggestion is to grab your journal, let yourself explore, and write what you feel in response to the following questions:
>> What loops am I stuck in? What do I consistently keep saying I’ll do, that I really want, but can’t seem to achieve?
>> How come I keep coming back to this? What’s my story here?
>> What are all the reasons I tell myself I can’t make space and time for my self-care, my pleasure, my joy?
>> What am I afraid of losing if I achieve what I think I want?
>> Knowing this, can I choose to let my story here go?
Remember, it’s our stories that keep us small and returning to the same places over and over again—our stories about what we fear might happen if we create real and lasting change.
And, until we can begin to release them, we’ll keep finding ourselves back at square one.
It’s time to see them, to understand them, to let them go and move onward.