The Feeling Afterward

After being in the social work and therapy world for over 20 years, I know a lot of strategies for helping people find peace and well-being, but the lessons I learn myself seem to be the most meaningful to teach. Maybe that's true for most things. Isn't there that saying that first you learn it, then you practice it and finally you teach it? Something like that.

Well I experienced one of those life lessons again this morning and I want to share it with you. Maybe it will inspire you in some way!

First off, I still feel some resistance to talking about my personal life (but I also think talking about things in code is kinda weird.) Therapists aren't supposed to talk about their personal lives with their clients, so there's a part of me that cringes when I write like this. Another other part of me just wants to be human and connect with the people around me whether they are my friends, family or clients. So here goes...

I haven't done any strength training in over a year. I took a break from it when I was losing sight of what was best for me and my body. I turned my attention once again toward yoga which this time helped me realize I wanted to teach it. (Everything happens as it should.) So for the past year and a half, I've been softening my body: stretching and opening. Through a series of messages from the Universe, it's been made known to me that my body actually needs both: softening and strengthening.

So time to figure out what to do. Go back to the community I was a part of before? Find a new class or group? Do it on my own? For weeks, I've been caught up in the details: where to go, what to do, how to do it. I've also been wrestling with my "shoulds" and "cant's," waiting for the ideal situation and motivation to arrive... all the things that FEAR does to keep us from taking the next step.

But today it happened. I went to a circuit class at my gym. I didn't want to go. I woke up at 330 this morning and I have a full schedule today. I heard myself start in with all the reasons I could try it next week, but I stopped myself. I stopped and thought... 

"How will you feel if you don't go?"

Well, I would feel relieved. But then frustrated and disappointed that my excuses and fear are keeping me in this (soft) place. And a bit hopeless that things were never going to change.

Then I thought, "How will you feel if you DO go?"

Nervous at first, but then stoked! Tired, in a good way. Proud of myself. And relieved that I pushed past my fearful self-talk that's keeping me in this cycle of avoidance. 

By asking these questions, it became clear that going to class would result in MORE of the feelings and self-talk I want in my head and body rather than avoiding. So I went.

I say all of this to share with you this helpful strategy:

When you are scared to do something you need to do - like something to advance your physical or mental health or something to change up a situation in your life that is not working (job, relationship, lifestyle.....)

FOCUS more on the FEELING you'll have AFTERWARD and less on the self-talk beforehand.

When you do, you'll bust out of those old habits and patterns. You'll make more progress toward your goals. You'll find some freedom from old conditioned thoughts that keep you living small. And then watch fear take the backseat where it belongs.