Journeys Small and Large
At the beginning of the year, we're usually gung ho about some major change we're going to make. We're planning vacations to tropical places, changing our diets, intending to read a hundred books that will make our life new and great.
It's really easy to get excited about these things. It's almost like reading a science fiction novel, getting swept away in how amazingly strange and wonderful everything is, and for the moment forgetting our low (or high) level dissatisfaction with the ordinariness that is our lives.
The problem with big plans like this is that fundamentally they're scary as shit. Our ego doesn't like stuff like this. It just wants to put on its slippers and a comfy robe and eat a bag of chips while congratulating itself on being just perfect, thank you very much. So we just tell it to shut up and suck in its stomach a little, and try and convince it that really, it'll love jogging every day and eating kale. But we know better, no matter how much you massage the kale. There are better ways to work towards our better selves.
First, we can be way more successful with little steps. Why? Because they're easy. Doing something simple a few times and being successful can feel like huge progress, and get us aiming in the right direction. Don't worry about doing the whole 45-minute yoga routine. If you get out your mat and do a few sun salutations you've made forward progress and you're more likely to build on it because you've seen how easy it is.
Second, its incredibly important to treat yourself with love and work with what you have. Plants, kids, pretty much any living thing grows with love and attention rather than an attitude of "I guess you're ok, but you could be better." Instead of denying yourself calories or trying to stick to a rigid plan, focus in on your body and ask it what it wants. Maybe it just wants to stretch a little, and then after a week you realize that now that it enjoys feeling the blood moving through it and wants to try some walking. Maybe what you really want is fresh fruit, and enjoying a simple apple leads you to realizing your body isn't your enemy.
Finally, focusing on who we want to be instead of who we are just sets ourselves up for failure. With such a huge gulf, our inner critic, shadow self, and any aspect of our personality that can be a bit of a bitch all line up to see who can take the first pot-shot. Even if we're a little bit successful ("I went for a walk today!"), some part of us will undermine it ("Yeah, right, let's see how long you keep that up.") Check in with yourself and make sure that you, the real authentic you, is genuinely up for the thing you're doing -- even if it's just putting on your muck boots to walk to the mailbox.
My dog, who granted isn't the brightest, doesn't seem to have any clue how long she's been out when I bring her for a "walk." She's just beside herself when she hears the leash jingling. We can go for a walk to the end of the driveway and back, and she's the happiest creature in the world.
Maybe tomorrow we'll go for a longer walk.