We’ve all done it - sat in our pajamas watching self-improvement reality t.v. without applying said self improvement tactics to our own lives. This Refinery29 article highlights the issue. Can you relate?
What can we do about it? How do we motivate ourselves to get off the couch and become active participants in our lives?
I don’t believe the answer is found in ‘getting motivated’ or ‘toughening up’ or ‘just doing it’. These may get us moving in the short term, but they won’t address what’s really going on and won’t have lasting power.
I know because I’ve tried. A friend of mine calls this The Big Plan. TBP is the grand proclamation that from this day forward we’re going to be a different person. You watch a family turn their home and life around in one episode of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, you’re fired up, you make TBP, tidy up your closet, time goes by and you stall out. Sound familiar? Then you add shame and guilt to the mix and the negative feedback loop becomes harder to break.
Here’s what I’m learning to do instead - start with mindfulness, compassion, and non-attachment. This is what this looks like for me, although not with organizing, but exercising.
Mindfulness - I don’t have a habit of exercise in my life which I know intellectually will have a negative impact on my health and vitality in the long run. I am not the size I want to be right now.
Compassion - I also know that I am currently going through some major life transitions which make it difficult to prioritize a big change in this area of my life right now. I trust that in the future I will have the capacity to address this issue and it won’t be too late.
Non-attachment - I am enough just the way I am. I can both seek change and self-improvement and love myself just as I am. For now, loose tops will have to do and I’m grateful for them.
And you know what happens as a result of being in this space of self-love and acceptance? Not complacency as some may fear, but action. Putting on my hiking boots and hitting the trails doesn’t feel like such a chore. I start carving out time to exercise because it feels good - the sun, the trees, the dopamine boost. I’m not attached to an outcome (a dress size or a number on the scale) and I start moving and enjoying exercise for its own sake. This makes me want to do it again and a new behavioral loop forms.
Your struggle may be with something else - perhaps clutter, busyness, and overwhelm. You don’t know where to begin. Start with acceptance, self-love and compassion.
Mindfulness - “Clutter, I see you. It’s overwhelming to think about, but I see you and accept that this is my current situation.”
Compassion - “I have been so focused on others, I haven’t paid much attention to my own life and space. No wonder it feels so disorganized in here. I trust that if I show my home some love that I will get through this.”
Non-attachment - Practice greeting your home and showing it your appreciation. “Thank you house for welcoming me at the end of every day. Thank you for keeping me warm and safe. I love you so much I want to take better care of you.”
Watch what happens when you do this. Even before you take any action. Acceptance of your current situation, compassion for how you got there, and trust and non-attachment to the outcome.
You may find the spark that you need to get started. You may realize that you need to ask for help. You may work on some other things to clear space in your calendar to set the stage to to the work at a later date.
“When we put down the ideas of what life should be like, we are free to wholeheartedly say yes to our life as it is.” - Tara Brach.