These past few weeks I’ve been working on creating new, positive habits–specifically, establishing a morning routine. I’ve mentioned that I want to become a morning person, and I’ve decided that I should be well on my way by my birthday, August 31st. As of today that gives me 6 weeks to 1) break old habits and 2) establish a new pattern.
I wish this were easier. It seems so simple and direct:
- Determine a goal.
- Figure out the steps required to achieve said goal.
- Set an intention, move forward with purpose, think positively, yadda yadda.
- Do it. Goal accomplished.
That’s nothing, right? Hah.
Of course, in this case I’m not just adding sweet morning habits to a morning devoid of habits. I have to make time for them as well. I have to wake up earlier in order to add these sweet, energizing activities. I have to wake up and decide to stay awake. This is the hard part. This is where breaking the old habit comes in. This is where the demon known as Resistance rears his sleepy, lackadaisical head, blinks his eyes, and goes back to sleep. My mornings, therefore, are an epic struggle with this lazy monster who has reigned inside my head for far too long.
Resistance shows up often, manifesting as procrastination, frustration, depression, “I don’t waaaaannnaaaaa,” giving into the snooze alarm. I remember it well from my childhood. Although I didn’t know what to call it, I remember feeling a tightening in my chest, an almost physical inability to perform tasks I’d been asked to do such as putting dishes away or cleaning my room. I felt it in a different way when it came time to practice piano, and I feel it now when I think about picking up my ukulele to learn new chords. I didn’t know how to deal with this feeling when I was younger and I recall hot, unexplained tears, tantrums and time outs. Fortunately, there are ways to cope that don’t result in hurling one’s self on the ground and screaming.
What To Do When Resistance Shows Up
1) Acknowledge It.
When you notice the discomfort of resistance arising, recognize it for what it is. Name it. Acknowledge it. Invite it in for tea. Naming the discomfort and acknowledging it loosens the knots it creates. (This works for all kinds of discomfort.)
2) Contemplate It.
Consider where the resistance comes from. For example, if it’s time for me to practice my instrument and I am overcome with a physical sensation of stiffness in my chest, almost a feeling of anger or even just a dismissive thought that I’ll do it later, I can sit quietly for a moment, check in with myself and ask, “Why don’t I want to practice my instrument? Am I frustrated by a particular piece or technique? Am I afraid I will never learn it? Am I falling short of my own perfectionism? What happens if I allow myself to sit with the discomfort that arises when I practice, or simply the feeling of resistance?”
3) Move Through It, Gently.
More often than not, when I sit with the discomfort, I realize its source and I can acknowledge that and move on. Then the task at hand can be performed joyfully or at the very least, performed.
Through these practices, we can accomplish the goals we’ve been putting off. In my case, I can wake up and stay awake, arise and begin establishing my positive morning habits. I may need to program my alarm clock an extra 5 minutes early just to move through the resistance. Perhaps this, too, is part of my routine: step one, the first habit. Maybe this is a lesson in itself, to begin at the beginning.
How does Resistance show up for you? Do you have any practices for moving through it?