Like many of us, I have struggled for the last several years to truly take care of myself before taking care of everyone and everything else. When I was younger, I was an athlete: I played varsity sports and club volleyball in college, I rode my bike everywhere and ran for fun. As I got older, work, parenting, household chores, and chronic pain slowly eroded many of my healthy habits.
For years, I struggled to identify how to “flip the switch” in my brain and commit to putting myself first and re-adopt that healthier lifestyle I had lost. Why did it seem so hard?
The Key “Aha!” Moment
Finally, it hit me: One day it became incredibly clear that the energy required to stay where I was — that is, feeling unhappy with my activity level, dealing with chronic pain, making less than ideal food choices — actually exceeded the energy it would take to make a change.
This felt huge! The energy it took to stay in my old, unhealthy ways finally surpassed the energy it would take to make healthier choices.
Building on this discovery, I was able to harness this newfound energy to completely revamp my eating patterns, get to the root of my chronic pain (and take steps to remedy it), and become more active again. Because of this shift, I have lost 25 pounds, greatly improved my blood work numbers, and found a slew of other benefits including greater mental clarity, better sleep, less mood swings, more energy, etc. My new habits served me really well when anxiety from the recent elections struck. Rather than diving into my refrigerator to alleviate challenging emotions, I went outside and walked miles and miles through my neighborhood, multiple times a day.
The energy required to get moving was actually less than the energy it was taking to stay stuck in patterns that no longer served me.
Is it Time for a Shift in Your Life?
Reflecting on this “aha” moment, I realized that this concept applies to many changes we may be considering making, but feel hesitant to fully embrace…
- Has the energy it takes to stay in your current job exceeded the energy it would take to find a new one? Maybe you’re worried you won’t be able to find another family-friendly employer (if so, read THIS).
- What about an important relationship in your life? Does the energy needed to stay exceed the energy it would take to leave?
- Is there a hard conversation you are avoiding? How much energy do you expend trying to avoid that person, versus getting through it to the other side? (hint: chances are you are giving it a lot more energy than the other person is).
Simply noticing the amount of energy it takes to stay where you are, versus what it would take to go where you want, is a great starting point.
I suspect many Americans can think of several people they’ve been avoiding on account of political differences. I can think of a few myself. I’ve not proactively reached out to a few people lately because, frankly, I don’t like conflict. Even thinking about reaching out to some of them makes my stomach turn upside down because I’m nervous to speak with them. And with Covid, let’s be honest, it’s given us an easy out to avoid people in general.
However, now that the election is over, I know that I cannot not have these conversations anymore. It’s actually harder to tiptoe around the people I care about; it feels like I’m avoiding them, and they’re avoiding me. The amazing thing is that the energy it will take for me to have these conversations, as hard as they may be, will actually be less than the energy to carry on in this way.
And once the conversation is done, I imagine we will both feel so much lighter. (I hope!)
What’s Keeping You Stuck?
Being “stuck” is always a choice, even if it doesn’t feel that way. There’s always a benefit to staying where we are… and when the energy required to stay stuck becomes greater than the energy required to move forward, you will start to feel a pull that can propel you into action. Sometimes just being able to clearly see the benefits and drawbacks is enough to help you get moving.
When I committed to getting healthier, my capacity to take on everything that’s going on in the world increased. My connection to my work grew stronger, my patience as a parent increased, and my overall energy level grew tremendously. My life improved.
The same will be true for you when you make the conscious choice to move towards the benefits of the new situation, letting go of the benefits of your current choice that is keeping you stuck. You can trust that there will also be unforeseen benefits to making the change you desire.
What is it that you’re avoiding? What is the benefit you get from staying stuck, and what would be the benefit of getting unstuck? How would things be better if you were able to move forward confidently? It can be difficult to see these things clearly for yourself, and having a coach along the way can be helpful. If you would like support, reach out today.
Photo source: InspirationalPerspective.com