It’s no secret that change is hard!! But not many want to talk about how ugly and messy change can be. But I feel with such strong conviction that it needs to be talked about. So here we go……
Many of us set New Year’s resolutions and do really well with them the first two weeks or even the first month of January. There’s so much excitement around the change we are going to make and we have declared this is our year to implement this change and damn it we are going to stick to it!!!
So much thought and effort go into our resolution of change but then something happens. The next thing we know we are right back at the starting point. We have our head in hands crying and feeling like a failure. Massive negative self-talk occurs and we beat ourselves up worse than a nasty UFC fight. We are confused, angry and simply just give up until January rolls around next year.
This, my friend, is called the messy middle when shit gets real and hard. Sure we can start off great, but then old patterns start to creep back in. And unless we are aware of our patterns and why we do them, it will be like going 100 mph to 0 in no time. And we are left like, um…. What the ____ just happened?
Or life gets in the way of our intention for change. We get sick, our jobs have us super busy, our kids have other plans for us, family drops in without notice, and you get the idea!
Life can throw us off for a few days, weeks or even months. But again unless we are aware of what is happening, we tend to just go with the flow and our intention for change is left behind.
A few things to keep in mind while the messy middle approaches:
Awareness is key. It will feel like the universe has conspired to throw every single booby trap in the world your way. You must be aware that life will happen, acknowledge it and keep pushing forward even if it’s at 20% speed. You have to keep going.
Old patterns will start to creep in. You must be aware that this has NOTHING to do with willpower. This has to do with repetitive actions that have been taken and the message your brain has been given for years.
Although you might think I will be doing such and such today and send that message to your brain, a familiar situation will occur (stress, emotions, unplanned event) and because you have reacted to the situation the same for years, your brain overrides your previous thought and you find yourself reacting before thinking.
Ok, let me show you what that looks like. I’ll give you one of my examples. Let’s say for the sake of managing my stress better and truly addressing the issues, I tell myself I will not use wine as a stress management today. But then my computer crashes at work, the school nurse calls and my son is having an asthma attack, go get my son from school and get him into the Dr’s office, a breaker blows in my house and I can’t get the stupid box open, and I drop my phone and it cracks.
Before I know it, it’s 5 PM and I have a wine glass in my hand washing all the stress away. My brain says oh you are experiencing stress overload, let me go through the filing a cabinet of actions and it quickly pulls out the wine card. And before I can even think to overrule it, I have a wine glass in my hand and I’m sipping away.
Now that I am aware of how I handle my stress, on days like this and I find the wine glass in my hand, I will usually catch myself halfway through the glass. Then I have to make a conscious decision to continue drinking wine or stop and go for a walk, do some deep breathing exercises or take a hot bath to relieve the stress of my day.
From being aware you can start to make new patterns in the messy middle instead of just the same old patterns that no longer serve you. But you have to make the decision to push through the muck and not get stuck in the quicksand!
You should also be aware if you are giving up a crutch you use for a certain situation, you will most likely experience the loss and go through a grieving process of letting it go. That’s normal too and part of the messy middle.
Self-compassion is a huge piece that most people miss while wading through the messy middle. Negative thoughts camp out in the brain such as; I am totally failing at this change. Why is it so hard for me and not others? I obviously can’t do this, I tried but it’s just not working. I suck. I am not worthy of this change.
Thinking these judgmental thoughts will land you right back at the starting point. These are stories that you tell yourself day in and day out and they keep you from getting where you want, obtaining your goals and the feeling of failure is deep seeded in your brain.
If there was ever a time to re-write your story and change the way you talk to yourself, it’s now. You deserve a different more positive story because you are simply amazing!! The power to re-write your story is within YOU!!
If something is not working, don’t be afraid to step back from it to evaluate how to improve or find other ways to be more effective.
So many components go into our desired change and one thing can spiral out of control and make our day unnecessarily harder.
For example, let’s say you’re trying to eat better or get in exercise, but you constantly run late in the morning. You don’t have time to eat breakfast, so you skip it. Your energy is low all day and you don’t make the best choices at lunchtime. You are counting the hours to come home and sit on the couch or go to bed.
Time management is the culprit here and it’s time to start evaluating where your time goes in the morning. That one component, whatever it might be could be keeping you from making any progress on your intention to change.
Yes, the middle is messy, ugly and hard. But if you are not ok with staying the same and you deeply desire change, then you must push forward!!
You will come out a much stronger and confident person. You will inspire change in others. So don’t give up, get dirty, and keep pushing your way through. You are so deserving of it!!!
It really comes down to one simple question… How bad do you want it?
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