Moving on from the Old Ways
Sometimes you have to find a new way. Too often we get stuck on our paths even if we know they’re not taking us where we want to go. There’s lots of reasons for this, the familiar is easy and comfortable, change is hard and scary, or we simply don’t know any other way. We even fight to stay on the old path when it’s very clear it doesn’t work anymore. So how do we change paths then?
When you’re feeling stuck there are several helpful tools you can use to help you find direction. The first is the practice of mindfulness. The regular practice of mindful meditation and self-awareness can help you let go of the unhelpful thinking that holds you back, those thoughts that tell us we’re not worth it, it’s too dangerous to change, or simply that we can’t do it. A second approach is journaling. While there are many methods of journaling, the approach I find most helpful is the Morning Pages routine from Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way. Morning Pages are simply three hand-written pages completed first thing in the morning before your brain switches all the filters on. Just write whatever comes to mind and don’t stop until you finish the three pages. Doing this consistently every morning over the course of several weeks you’ll begin see with better clarity what’s holding you back, which in turn allows you to begin identifying steps you can take to create change in your life. Another helpful tool for opening yourself up to possibilities also comes from Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way. She calls this tool the Artist’s Date and you don’t need to be an artist to use either of these. The Artist’s Date is simply taking yourself on a solo outing each week to a place that intrigues you in some way. This could be to an interesting shop you always pass but never stop to go into, a museum, a park, a class, or whatever seems interesting or different. By doing this you’re opening up your mind to new possibilities. Walking is another simple tool that is readily available to most of us. Not walking the dog or with anyone, but simply walking alone with awareness of what’s around you and what you’re thinking and doing.
Now you can expect resistance with all these activities. Your brain doesn’t like change and it’s going to provide a multitude of reasons why you can’t do these things. That’s OK because it’s to be expected, you just have to be determined and soon whichever of these tools you use will become something you look forward to. If your resistance to starting remains high, I suggest you take a sheet of paper and list out the reasons or excuses you have for not doing things. Write out every one and you’ll soon see that most of the reasons are frivolous and just another form of unhelpful thinking. Plug in “unhelpful thinking styles” into google and you’ll get a good sampler of unhelpful thinking patterns, we all have them and once aware of them we can counter them.
It’s not too late change tracks in your life, but it does take some work on your part. Intentions are good but it’s the actions you take that make the difference and take you where want to go. Small steps can lead to a great journey. Let me know how it goes.