I didn’t mean for this to happen, however, there seems to be a bit of a star wars theme going on 😁 Maybe it’s something to do with being in a house full of boys with the unlimited supply of star wars that Disney+ has to offer!
This last week I’ve been highly aware of the increasing resistance from my children to do anything that’s good for them. When we battle through and finally get to go for a walk, eat something healthy or extract ourselves from cyber world and do something together, they actually enjoy it and even have the audacity to say we should do this more 🙄 Let’s keep this blog honest, there have been days when I have resisted the resistance and for the love of a peaceful day, all forms of technology and chocolate have been our friend! I’m embracing those days with acceptance that this is part of survival. Our aim is to come through this with mental health intact, right? As long as there are more wins than defeat, our health and family values will survive.
It has made me think about our general resistance to do the things that are good for us. For some its a daily battle against the resistance to eat healthy, exercise and for others it’s being able to do things in moderation and generally keep a handle on our emotions. I could make mention of our nations obesity problem, alcohol and drug consumption or the horrific abuse and domestic violence that takes place, to highlight the struggle.
Could it be that our fight against our own resistance, actually makes our resistance stronger. Keep reading, hopefully this will make sense.
The instinctive way to beat resistance is to threaten, bully and attack. “I would never do that!” I hear you say. What’s your self talk when you’re feeling resistant to doing what’s good for you?
If you dont get your !#*$ together…… (fill the blank: your life is going to be miserable, your marriage is going to be over, your children will hate you, people will think you’re an idiot, your friends wont want to be around you, you will be forever unhealthy)
If you cant do that, it means your lazy; if you say that, it means your judgemental: if you behave like that, it means you are unacceptable.
You are so weak
You are so lazy
You’ve never been good at anything
You are just a horrible person
What this self-talk produces is a force that is even more powerful than resistance. Avoidance.
Do you recognise this pattern:
You are on top form. You are beating resistance to change and winning by sticking to that health plan, following that rigid routine to the letter, mastering your to do list or keeping a handle on your emotions. You have feelings of success and your negative self talk turns on its head “you are good” “you are not an idiot”, “you are doing great” “you are successful”. Sometimes we get so high on success that we start to float above others and feel a bit superior?
Then life chucks a lemon at you, then another, then another. You keep going at the same pace but you start to feel the resistance “this is hard work in these circumstances. I’m so tired. Maybe I should have a break.”
You start to have ‘off’ days but by the end of the day your guilt and self-beating has beat your resistance into submission. You keep going, but the more you fight the resistance to change, the louder your negative self-talk has to become. “Here I go again, I should have known it was temporary, maybe deep down I’m just lazy”
Eventually you fold but rather than folding in self pity and agreeing with all the negative self-talk, you embrace rebellion and self-deprecating humour and secretly promise youself it’s ok you will get back on track. You have succeeded on producing the force of ‘Avoidance’. After a little time you start to kick yourself into action again and so the cycle continues without ever bringing long-term change.
So what are we avoiding? Is it the hard work of perseverance? Or are we avoiding feeling like a failure? Has our own motivational self-talk set us up for failure?
Are we avoiding the change and choosing to survive with mediocre living because it’s better than continuing and agreeing with failure? The impact of failure is wrapped up in how we value ourself. If deep down we dont value or accept ourself then we will face deep pain each time we fail.
Please people, be kind to yourself. Change doesnt come by threatening, bullying or attacking yourself. I get it, sometimes those tactics get the job done but at what cost long term? Low self esteem, poor mental health, volatile relationships (because let’s face it, if that’s what you think of yourself, how do your loved ones view themselves from your perspective). We end up stuck in a never ending cycle that doesnt result in the change we so long for.
Where does all this negative self talk come from? Could it partly be because we are a generation that grew up in a society where children were expected to be seen and not heard and to respect elders no matter what. We were told off for voicing opinion and expressing our feelings was seen as rude, defiant or sometimes weak. Displaying those behaviours often resulted in punishment in the form of threats, bullying or attacking our character, to put it bluntly. With the best will in the world, parents can’t shield children from society and sometimes may magnify the impact with their own negative self-talk.
Thankfully society is changing, however, we are left with these echoes from childhood that now form our self-talk. I’m not handing out a ‘get out clause’ to blame society for our weaknesses. Living as a victim is the most debilitating thing we could do. We might not be responsible for the input from others but we are responsible for the outcome.
So, what are we supposed to do to get things done and make changes to our life? I’m no expert but I’m committed to self-development and change. There are a few things that are working for me. Here are the headlines. (Maybe in future blogs I can share the detail)
Dream! If you cant see where you want to be, you wont get there. Life is full of distractions so dream regularly and create a vision board to remind you. Keep it simple to make it sustainable – a pinterest board is a good start. The bible puts it this way “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (proverbs 29:18)
Plan! Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. If you dont plan your route, you will be tossed by storms. I know it sounds a bit cliche but it’s TRUE. Even if plans fail or take a diversion, at least you have learned what doesnt work for you. There is a verse in the bible I always fall back on when things dont seem to go to plan: “We can make our plans but the Lord determines our steps” (Proverbs 16:9). When our own plans dont work out, sometimes its because God has a better plan for our greater good.
Commit to not beating yourself up. You will have off days. Accept them, knowing it’s not permanent. Borrow my mantra “no beating up of self” or for those who follow bible teaching “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” (Roman’s 8:1)
Establish routines and helpful habits! I have a natural rebellion to routine. In the past I have felt trapped by it but I’ve learned to be friends with routine because I’ve realised how much I can achieve by committing to the little things. Make routine easy by slotting the things you want to achieve into your day rather than trying to fit your day round routines. Associate actions with things you have to do, eg whenever I’m driving I’m doing face yoga and praying so if you feel ignored or maybe I’ve given you a funny look that’s why! If you are around me for more than an hour you will have heard a little ping in my phone telling me to drink water. Keep it simple to make it sustainable.
Find balance. When I enjoy doing something I have a tendency to let it consume my day so I’ve really had to work at this but it has been worth it because my life is gradually becoming more balanced. Finding balance is a whole blog in itself but for a starting point make a list of all the things you need to do and want to do each week. Write next to each activity how long it would take. Dont forget to include activities like showers, getting dressed, cooking dinner, sleep, exercise. Add the total. You might be surprised at how much time you do or dont have left over! This helps to know how much time you can practically spend on activities and serves as a reminder that if you go over time you will have to sacrifice time in another area. Maybe it will highlight how much time you watch tv 🤔
Build resilience (not resistance!) A simple way is to write a list of positive things (affirmations) about yourself while you are feeling positive and use it to counteract your negative self-talk when you are feeling low. If you cant think of anything, use the bible. God has many wonderful things to say about you. If you’ve never read a bible ask someone to show you where to look. The bible is like a library of books, not a cover to cover book so be careful not to dive in at the wrong end of history.
I would love to hear how you handle change. Leave some comments on the blog post.