“Go for 5 more minutes, c’mon, it’s easy!”, says my gym loving boyfriend from the machine next to me.
We have all been there. You are on the treadmill for some or other reason and are doing something that is meant to be running but it’s turned into more of a brisk walk. You have all the best hits streaming through Spotify and you think “Ah I’m good here at this speed, this is just right for me”.
I used to think that the mere act of showing up at the gym should be enough to get me a pat on the back, but soon you begin to realise that no growth comes from comfortable couches.
“But it was in this moment, lying in bed late at night, that I first realized that the voice in my head—the running commentary that had dominated my field of consciousness since I could remember—was kind of an asshole.”
― Dan Harris, 10% Happier
Rule your mind, or watch it rule you.
In my experience it’s more than physical exertion or discomfort that forces us give up on a new habit. It’s the voice in our head telling us that for one reason or another we can’t do this.
Luckily we are starting to wake up to the realization that the minds prime function is to think.
To create, to problem solve, to justify, explain or understand.
And we expect this to just not appear when we try to do something differently to the way we have done it our whole lives.
Notice for a moment, the next time that you are doing something that is difficult for you.
The moment it becomes less and less easy and the enthusiasm isn’t as strong.
Notice what you are telling yourself.
“You are too fat/unfit/unhealthy/terrible and this is actually a huge waste of your time and you know you are going to eat a pizza after this anyway”.
I began to think of the voice inside my mind as the shorter version of me that thinks she will never get old, can survive on coffee, bread and cigarettes forever and wants to ignore the fact that walking briskly on the treadmill for 5 minutes twice a week is not in fact exercise.
She frequently gets upset at the gym when faced with another set.
She also frowns a lot and her favourite word is “NOPE”.
When we challenge ourselves to really do something out of our comfort zones, we alter the neural pathway of this particular action and the way we have always performed this action.
Think about it in this way.
You walk to work every day.
The route goes through a straw field.
You walk the same route every day and know it well. You are comfortable with it and pretty soon you don’t even need to be looking in the direction you’re going, can read or listen to music while walking it and feel safe and happy.
Pretty soon, you notice that there is a pathway that has been created by you walking the way every day. The straw is flat and if you were a bird and able to fly high above the field you could see the clearly demarcated path from beginning to end.
Now imagine that one day, about to start your journey, you decide to go different way. The straw is almost taller than you are and since there is no clear path because you have not yet tread this way, you now have to create a path for yourself.
This is the same way that habits are formed and become part of our lives. We begin to perform the same habitual behaviour in various parts of our lives.
They are our automatic, auto pilot response to whatever we are faced with and something important to note is that until we learn to develop new habits and new responses to triggers, we will always default back to what we know, the habits we are comfortable with and the responses that are programmed into us.
This is why dealing with new and challenging things are so difficult.
It is much easier to just eat the pizza.
It is very important to challenge ourselves and to fill our lives with things that are not comfortable, familiar and doesn’t help us grow
A few things that could start you off to get-out-of-your-rut:
- Get up 30 minutes earlier in the morning.
- Commit to making a delicious and healthy dinner once at week.
- Try someone else’s routine and see if you could adapt aspects of them into your life.
- Commit to working out consistently at least 4 times a week for 30 to 45 minutes per day.
- Dedicate some time every day to a non-work related project you have been working on.
- Spend less time on your devices and get out more.
The question is Why?
Why would you do this to yourself?
Why would you struggle everyday and try to over power the voice. Why would you do something that doesn’t feel good and that you almost hate?
Because we are our own worst enemy and if you want to grow and better yourself, be healthier mentally and physically, going back to your default setting is not an option.
That person just wants to play the victim and have things easy all the time and thinks if you weren’t born fit, there is nothing you can do about it now.
When we keep trying again, after failing so many times, coming up with new ways to progress and pick ourselves up after the umpteenth time and still these things are important to us, is life’s way of teaching us lessons that keep coming back to us until we have learnt them.
How do you shake things up and get out of your comfort zone? Tell us in the comments.