Stop breaking promises to yourself

Bike Sign
How many times do promise yourself that you will change?

Do more exercise.

Work less, and spend more time with the family.

Drink less.

Start doing things that speak to your passion, rather than playing the numbers.

And the list goes on, and on.

In the current climate, there is no shortage of well-meaning advice all focused on changing your habits, but until you stop breaking promises to yourself, nothing will change.

You will have seen me mention before the idea of Resistance. You maybe unfamiliar with the term. To quote from Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art:

“Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole. Resistance is protean. It will assume any form, if that’s what it takes to deceive you. It will reason with you like a lawyer or jam a nine-millimeter in your face like a stickup man. Resistance has no conscience. It will pledge anything to get a deal, then double-cross you as soon as your back is turned. If you take Resistance at its word, you deserve everything you get. Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.”

I like the term Resistance because I can conceive the idea of something – however ethereal – standing in the way of a breakthrough moment.

Even if you feel uncomfortable with the notion of Resistance, you need to face the fact that you have a nasty habit of breaking one promise after another. If it were otherwise, just imagine how different things might be?

Fighting our inner demons is the hardest battle of all. And, sometimes, the more you think about something the harder it is to change. One of the (many) problems with our modern life is that it leaves us very little time to think. Once we find our (un)natural cadence, particularly one that assumes a lot of our mental processing power, it becomes all consuming.

You may consider that that is how it’s meant to be, but, in a perverse way, this is Resistance’s way of sneaking up on you and making sure than when you come to keeping a promise to yourself which might lead to breaking the whirr, whirr cycle, that there is always something bigger standing in your way.

If you can stand back from the fray just for a moment, more often than not you gain perspective. Of course, this is what happens after a couple of weeks away on holiday but it doesn’t take long for the destructive pattern to reemerge. No, the trick is to develop a routine where you find time every day, week and month to think.

But more than that the only habit you need to assume is to begin before you are ready.

The thing is the moment you start to think is the moment you fabricate a position that makes it easy not to start:

“I haven’t got the time.”

“Tomorrow is fine.”

“It can wait.”

Just imagine a scenario where you changed your posture and you started without giving in to the temptation to put it off.

Exercise, eating, drinking (or not) or doing more of one thing and less of something else all fall under the guise of start before you are ready.

For me it’s not a case of saying we don’t have the willpower, but rather in over thinking the subject at hand.


Working with me:

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