This morning a friend of mine who’d just read my ‘Creating Daily Rituals’ post messaged me to say I’d inspired her to take action. She’d already been thinking about changing her evening routine, had even written a plan but was yet to get going on it, whereas I was ‘doing the doing’.
As I replied to her message to reassure her that her self-awareness to even have written the plan was a big part of the battle, it got me thinking about why it can be tricky to make that transition from thought to action.
There appears to be a psychological trap at play, in that we can experience some of the same highs of actually achieving something just by imagining ourselves doing it. This can leave us with the false sense that we have taken action and research shows that our impetus for action is lessened as a result. Googling our local gym prices and clicking the link for the guided tour hasn’t made us any fitter but we can feel a little more virtuous for doing the research, it feels a little bit like we did go to the gym. I can certainly get a bit of a sweat on just thinking about attending a spin class (ain’t never gonna happen). Likewise, ‘pinning’ alllll the cool cakes on Pinterest isn’t the same as actually getting our hands dirty and making one for real.
Vince and I have a shorthand which we use when we need a little
kick up the ass supportive, loving encouragement, we tell the other to ‘J.F.D.I’ which stands for ‘Just F’ing Do It’! It’s kind of a joke but holds a steely core of truth and it reminds us that talking about change isn’t the same as actioning change (and boy do we love to talk!)
As I was mulling all of this over, a bit of counselling theory sprang to mind (see diagram at the top). Counselling is, in the main, about helping clients make positive changes, but them simply showing up to sessions isn’t enough, they need to be in the right place psychologically to be ready to implement change. And even when we become aware change is needed (when we’ve moved out of the ‘pre-contemplative’ stage), while we’re still in that ‘contemplative’ stage, fear can continue to hold us back.
With all change comes loss, and sometimes we need convincing that the gain outweighs the loss; and this often means a leap of faith is required. American sociologist Martha Beck talks about ‘leaping into the fire’ and the rewards that await if we’re prepared to move through our fear.
So often the path that leads us towards the greatest potential for peace in our lives, the one that feels authentic and true to each individual, can feel, in the moment, like the path of most resistance. In my experience, in the long run, it is actually the path of least resistance. Initially as we are making the shift to living authentically there can be a fair amount of undoing, change, upheaval as we shift our lives away from who we thought we ‘should’ be and re-align with what we truly want and believe. But once we’re up and running, the fires get smaller, the leaps less gazelle-like and we find our groove. There is a beautiful simplicity to living authentically, but that is a post for another day…