When am I going to stop?
Same question. Different day. You fill in the blank. From the mundane to the life-changing, we all know what it’s like to have lifestyle patterns that make us feel trapped. We can ignore and deny to save face, but all the while we wonder what life would be like if we could just stop doing the same things over and over and getting on our own nerves.
Maybe you want to stop spending time with someone who brings you down. But you keep hanging out with them.
Maybe you want to stop procrastinating. But you keep waiting until the last minute.
Maybe you want to tell someone something – a truth that they really need to hear. But you keep holding it in.
Maybe you’re not sure exactly but you know that what you’re doing isn’t working and something needs to stop. Beneath the surface, as you go through your day to day, there’s this little pull that tells you something isn’t right. Trust me, I know.
Long ago, I dated a guy. Me and this guy, we smoked weed every single day. Sometimes all day long. It was our thing. I remember smoking sometimes when I didn’t even really feel like it. I thought that he’d feel that I was rejecting him and not the weed if I said no. And I thought that if he was high and I was not, I’d feel disconnected from him. So I smoked.
It dulled the tension. Not the tension between he and I, but the tension within myself. The kind of tension that comes from inner conflict and identity crisis. The tension of feeling like an underachiever and an overachiever at the same time and not knowing what to do about it. I’d smoke everyday and oversleep every morning and I’d wonder:
When am I going to stop doing this to myself? What’s wrong with me?
We ask ourselves this question because we know that “this” is hurting us and we’re denying ourselves in some way by allowing it. And yet day after day, we don’t have an answer. We just do what we’ve become accustomed to doing. Sometimes years and years pass by this way.
Here’s the problem with asking ourselves these questions. When you’re constantly in ‘don’t let me get me’ mode, thinking about all the reasons why you suck, your inner conversation doesn’t exactly breed inspiration or encourage change. We call ourselves names. We taunt ourselves with all the things that we’ll never accomplish because we can’t seem to stop doing X, Y and Z. We get so sick of ourselves that we actually think we’d rather have someone else’s problems – just to have a break from our own. We focus on our perceived weaknesses and underplay or completely ignore our strengths.
Even though I didn’t like myself very much during that time, my half baked way of life served a purpose. I know now that there was nothing wrong with me, but I needed to learn what I did NOT want for my life. And that phase made me so tired of myself that I became curious about what I did want. I didn’t wake up one day and change. What I did was start seeking and exploring new things, trying to expand my world.
I started graduate school.
I started going to therapy.
I started reading books about life + self-discovery + spirituality.
I started gravitating towards friends who were more about positivity and love and less about triviality and drama.
I started having less space in my life for bad habits and wasting time.
So my change didn’t come because of what I stopped doing so much as what I started doing.
The changes were gradual and flowed naturally. This is typically my pace with everything. Have you ever heard of the concept of kaizen? The word is Japanese for “improvement” and it’s a philosophy that focuses on gradual, small, consistent shifts to affect change. It can be applied to many aspects of life in including business, healthcare and of course, personal development. In my life, it’s been helpful for me to make changes little by little instead of making knee jerk decisions that overwhelm me.
Are you tired of yourself? Uninspired by what you’re doing with your life? (Oh how many times have I felt that way!) Start asking yourself what you can start doing. Make it something that comes naturally. Take a class in something that you have a natural inclination for but have never had formal training. Can’t afford a class? Then read a book. See if it awakens anything in you. Start a group. Maybe a book club or a women’s group of some sort. Start a blog. It’s free and it’s a great way to explore your interests and branch out.
Just because you know someone whose life seemed to change overnight, doesn’t mean that it really happened that way. If you don’t like how things are going, just start with a small adjustment. And then another. And then another. And then another. Keep going. *whispers* keep going…keep going…xo