When we are trying a new habit and it doesn’t work or doing a project that gets stuck or regretting a binge session with potato chips in front of the TV, we tend to harden. We berate ourselves with, “I could do this if I had more willpower”, “I am so lazy” or “I am fat and unlovable.” Our bodies become tight. Our breathing more shallow.
We buckle down and try harder. Our inner task master takes charge. Work, work, work. Try, try, try.
Sometimes we get the results we want. Sometimes we don’t.
What if we tried softening into our problems?
We would notice what isn’t working and de-personalize it. We would realize it is the process that is wrong, not the person.
We could have self-compassion, “I really wanted this new habit to stick and am disappointed it isn’t. Thankfully there are plenty of other options for change.” “Getting stuck in a project is hard. In the midst I am learning to love myself and love my project.” “Something must have really upset me to go into the binge. It’s OK sweetie.” Feel your heart soften. Breathe more slowly and deeply.
Then you bring in your creativity. If what you are doing isn’t working, what are 10 other ways to do it? If you were looking at this problem through the eyes of love, what would you do? If nothing is coming, ask a friend, coach, or do a little research.
I did this the other day. The time change was making me so tired. My body hadn’t acclimated yet. I needed to make yogurt for my morning smoothies, but every evening for a week I would say I am too tired. Then tell myself how lazy I was because I didn’t do it. Until I realized what I was doing.
The next evening I said, “I am tired because of the time change. I need to be gentle with myself until I re-calibrate. How about I try doing it in the morning?”
I made the yogurt in the morning and it felt so easy.
This was a simple problem, but softening helps with even complicated problems. Hardening only makes the difficult feel harder.
What problem would you like to soften into today?
Photo by Clyde Robinson