Today’s big idea is that when it comes to breaking bad habits, incremental change, and progress that loops back on itself, is totally TOTALLY fine to forgive yourself! Habits get developed over weeks, months, and years of repetition. You can’t expect to fix them and then set it and forget it, forever and ever, amen. However, your ego–which is your survival system, which wants to keep you safe and therefore, often has a knee jerk reaction against change–will try to tell you that any slip-ups or times that you fall back into your old ways is proof, proof I tell you!, that what you’re trying to do is too hard. So why not just give up?
Listen to the Podcast Here
Trying to become better is not a reason for feeling bad about yourself
You will mess up. There will be slip-ups. You will backslide. You will completely forget. And it is OK. All you need to do is simply forgive yourself and start again.
I’ve talked about habits as icebergs in the other episodes from this week. But I also think of habits as a trench. They are patterns of thought and behavior that you’ve traveled so many times that you’ve worn the path down so that maybe only the top of your head is peeking out. We like to think that we can make up our minds to start something new or stop something old and boom, just leap out of the trench and set off in a new direction. When really, a lot of times all we can manage is just reaching up and getting one pinky up to the ground level. Sometimes we might get our whole torso out, and then something happens and we fall right back in to the trench.
However long it takes for you to really put that trench in your past is at long as it takes
In nearly every situation, it truly doesn’t matter how long it takes to make a change; it only matters that you do. If it takes you two years to fully adopt sobriety is that a bad thing? No, it’s absolutely not. It took my mom years to truly get off cigarettes. She chewed Nicorette gum for a really, really long time. I used to tease her about it, which now makes me cringe a bit, I admit now that I know more about how hard some habits are to break (sorry Mom!), and she’d say, would you rather I start smoking again? But you know what? She did it. And now that last piece of nicorette gum was 20 years ago.
What you perceive as taking a long time now will at some point look like a blip.
So please, be tolerant of your slip-ups, forgive yourself . Know you don’t have to stick the landing. There’s no panel of judges grading you on how efficiently you change. Do your best. And when you mess up, be kind. So long as you keep going, you will get there.
Daily Tiny Assignment
Your tiny assignment for today is to pre-emptively forgive yourself for your slip-ups on your road to creating better habits. You can even write on a little slip of paper, “I messed up and I forgive myself” and slip it into your wallet for those times when you need it. Because you will need it. And honestly, messing up is part of the process. It’s like in skiing, if you don’t fall down sometimes, you’re not trying.
Come back next week
When I’m talking about how to build new habits (as opposed to this week’s episodes, which were more focused on breaking old habits). This is