Do you like when things are a mess?
Most of the people I work with in my practice like things to be tidy.
In their minds. In their work. In their families. In their environment.
Tidy, tidy, tidy!
(Listen, consider me a member of the tidy club. I even have a favorite hashtag I use with my team… #tidyqueue)
The desire for tidiness, for certainty, can be tough to reconcile with the fact that change means messy.
Success is not certain unless you don’t give up.
Our identity comes into question.
Ya know. Just…that. YIKES!
The process of change is not linear. It’s messy with restarts.
We make progress then stop, plateau or even go backwards.
This is where we can encounter a mean, discouraging inner critic.
Have you ever talked to yourself like this when things get messy?
- “This is never going to work.”
- “Things like this never work out for me.”
- “Maybe I don’t want to do this anyway.”
- “How come it’s so easy for everyone else but me!?!”
Side note: So many people think that they are truly weird and alone in their struggle. I’ve coached thousands of people, thousands. I can assure you that – no – you are not broken, wrong, weird or alone. You just have a human brain doing what it’s designed and programmed to do!
Okay, so you’re on a change journey. It’s getting messy.
Let’s use a real world example.
Let’s say that you are committed to being a more affectionate partner.
They, on the other hand, are used to you being distant, or at least that’s how they’d describe you.
(Whether it’s true or not, people have opinions of us. Let them. Stay focused on your opinion of you for maximum stress reduction.)
You really, really love them and feel connected to them, and you know they’d value more hugs, kisses and passing touches.
Maybe you reach for their hand and they’re so shocked they knock over their coffee mug.
What do you feel? Discouraged, embarrassed, sad…something else?
Welcome to the muddy, messy middle journey of change…things are not going as planned.
Now…here is the best part. The hardest part. The part with the maximum growth potential.
You can feel those feelings – really let them come into your body without squashing them away.
You can encourage yourself. You can celebrate your effort.
Or you can turn and flee the other direction.
Which choices will take you where you want to go?
Are you more likely to become the person you want to be through encouragement or discouragement?
The good news is that success comes to those who keep trying.
The bad news is that success comes when you never, ever give up. Even when you fail spectacularly along the way.
Here are some thoughts to balance out those woe-is-me thoughts from before:
- “This works when I keep working.”
- “Things like this work out for other people…and I’m a person…so it could very well be me who succeeds!”
- “I want this enough to keep going a while longer…” (Just keep swimming, as Dory the fish sings!)
- “Change is hard for a lot of people. I’m on the hero’s journey now, just like all my role models. Go, me!”
The Vietnamese Zen Buddhist spiritual leader, Thich Nhat Hanh, is quoted as saying, “No mud, no lotus.”
Mud is messy. Change is messy. The middle is messy. But you’re blooming. Keep going!
P.S. I invite you to fall in love with my podcast, “Less Stress, More Fun.” Subscribe today! Each week’s episodes are short (14-18 mins, on average), smart (lots of research) and fun (especially if you love 80s music).