What’s something you keep telling people you’re going to do, but you never do?
“I’m going to start running 3 times a week” “I’m going to start sending out a newsletter to my clients every two weeks” “I’m going to look for a better location for my practice” “I’m going to start going to bed earlier” “I’m going to meditate every morning” “I’m going to take a course in medical massage” “I’m going to start bringing my lunch to work”
For many of us massage therapists and bodyworkers, the end of the summer is a time of great plans for improving our practice and our lives as we begin our run into the end of the year.
The #1 thing keeping you from creating that new habit that will improve your life, will make your practice more successful and less stressful, and will make you happier?
It’s really that simple.
It never ceases to amaze me the limiting beliefs we humans place on ourselves and the lengths we’ll often go to in order to sabotage ourselves.
Here’s my theory - Our primitive brains take great comfort in knowing what’s going to happen. The feeling of certainty of future events reduces stress and we’re driven by our primitive brains to try to keep our world just the way it is.
The perceived pain of change is greater than the motivation we get from a more desirable future.
I think it’s important to understand why we’re wired to be this way. Only then can we truly understand that it just doesn’t make any sense - and develop tools to overcome ourselves.
Imagine a world 10,000 years ago. Humans lived in small communities where everyone’s focus was survival and ultimately, procreation of the species.
Being instinctively drawn to the familiar was an important survival tool. Eat the same foods - because experimenting with new stuff could kill you. Don’t get too far away from the safety of your village or tribe - you might get gored by a Wildebeest, etc.. It was all about survival.
Each individual had a distinct role to play in the survival of the community. Experimentation, switching roles, suggesting different ways of doing things to the elders, all resulted in a destabilization of the community and would reduce the chance of survival for all.
Our primitive brains have developed through tens of thousands of years. Your default programming and emotional responses to stimuli aren’t going to change anytime soon.
But there’s good news.
You have a superpower.
The source of this power is in your forehead - it’s your frontal lobe. Where reason and executive function live.
This is the part of your brain that can override the automatic, primitive responses we feel and which don’t always lead us to behave in ways that are best for the goals we have for ourselves.
Most people don’t use their superpower to anywhere near its potential. Using reason and self-discipline to overcome the limitations of the ancient part of your brain is just like using a muscle.
As the summer winds down, I challenge you to exercise that muscle by picking just one thing to work on.
Note: Don’t do the “New Year’s Resolution” thing where you set some high reaching goal and then don’t follow through because it was just too damn big!
Pick one thing.
A little thing.
Like making your bed before you leave the house - every morning.
Like sending one client a thank you note once a day.
Something small. Just like a 5 lb weight at the gym.
Track your progress. Hold yourself accountable for this new behavior. Every day.
Don’t tell anyone about it. You’re not doing it for them.
Stay with it. You’re going to miss a day. Don’t beat yourself up. Just start-up again.
Stay with it, because even if you don’t realize it, that superpower of yours is being exercised, and you’ll be able to use that strength to focus on ever bigger challenges, with ever greater certainty that you can achieve whatever change you wish to in your life.
Now go do something small.
- Author: Mark Volkmann
- Published: August 14, 2017