- Cheri Honeycutt, M.Ed.
That Which We Resist, Persist
If your noses itches and you don't scratch it, what happens? Does it stop itching? Do you simply move on to something else and forget about it? Do you just learn to live with an itchy nose? In today's podcast were going to talk about the powerful truth that states "that which we resist, persists." This quote has two meanings for me and today we're gonna talk about one of them--the cost of NOT doing something.
I bet you already know it’s a much better idea to do those things that need to be done and not put them off or procrastinate. Duh right? Millions of dollars and millions of hours are spent by we humans to try to curb our habit of procrastination. But we all do it. Everyone I talk to can tell you things that they are avoiding, pushing off until a later time or simply refusing to do at all. They will also tell you all the negative feelings and maybe even consequences they are suffering through because of this. So, why do we do this?
It’s not like NOT doing the thing means we’re not thinking about it. It’s not like avoiding it makes the need for it (whatever it is) to be done or go away. Taxes still need to be filed, reports still need to be written, phone calls still need to be returned, houses still need to be cleaned, the roof still leaks even if it’s not raining. Those pants will still be tight next time you put them on unless you do something different, am I right? But still we all resist and avoid and put things off.
I think we do this because we love the lie we tell ourselves. Somehow, we convince ourselves that we'll do it later, or we don't have the time to do it right now or we don't have the money right now or the energy. Blah Blah Blah. Guess what . . .These may actually be true! And just because they’re true doesn’t mean we’re not lying to ourselves. Perhaps we don't have the resources to tackle the problem completely right now. But we can do something.
Here's what a lot of us do. We think that because we put it off to another day, that we are not spending any resources right now. That is simply not so!!!!!
Let me tell you, not doing something takes a lot of energy. A lot! We worry, we have to keep up the lies we tell ourselves; our procrastination may acutely be costing us money (like extra fees for paying your bills late.)
So how do we stop procrastinating? How do we stop resisting doing what needs to be done? Its simple really. We have to think a different thought. Thoughts turn into actions. Simple right. But there is an important step between these two things. There are the feelings that are created between the thought and the action. It’s the feelings that keep us stuck or prompt us to action. It is also the feelings (the negative ones) that use up resources and cost us a lt in the long run.
Here's what I mean. We have a thought ("I don't want to exercise today.”) Which causes a feeling (maybe relief of letting ourselves off the hook today PLUS self-judgment for not taking better care of ourselves.) This thought causes and action. (NOT going to the gym). Yes, not doing something IS an action.
So again, the thought. “I'm not going to exercise today but I really should.” Which causes us to feel frustration in ourselves and to feel defeated about our ability to be disciplined for example. Which causes a behavior (not exercising yes . . .but also comparing ourselves to others who ARE exercising and beating ourselves up for not being one of those people.
See what I mean. So, to turn this bus around, we start with a new, different thought. For example, “Exercise is important to me for both my long-term health and my short-term happiness. I want to exercise today.” This triggers a feeling of possibly dread (maybe) but also pride and well-being. The combo of the thought and the feeling trigger an action. One of going to exercise. You could still skip it but the feeling that comes from feeling good about the decisions is more likely to trigger exercising than skipping it.
Get it? To change our action or to take a different action means we change our thought first. The new, positive thoughts illicit a more positive and productive feeling which pushes us toward a new action. Pretty easy. Well, maybe not exactly easy, but it's pretty simple idea.
New thought, new feeling, new action.
So, two things I hope you chew on from this podcast. Number 1: Not doing things, putting things off or burying your head in the sand does not mean you are not expending energy. Avoiding things uses a lot of energy and costs you a lot over time. Secondly, to do things different starts in your brain. A simple, more positive thoughts which brings forth a more positive feeling can spark you into healthier behaviors. New thoughts can be the spark that lights a fire under your fanny! How do you change those thoughts? Listen up for future podcasts where we’ll talk about this in a lot more detail.