Something I hear people struggle with daily is overthinking. So with that in mind, I share my experience around some well ingrained habits (that I do without thinking), a new one I am working on (that require a lot of my energy), and my experience with my daughter as she develops a new habit of practicing driving.
I woke up this morning and walked my dog, exercised, and meditated — the foundation of each of my mornings — familiar from the well-worn routine of it all. Once I sit at my desk, it’s another story entirely as I consciously begin to build the habit of writing for public consumption and sharing a bit of who I am and what matters to me in words here.
Heeding the Call to Grow
Another way I’ve seen this concept of stretching ourselves to embody a new version of oneself is in my daughter as she’s learned to drive and to cast aside her thoughts and fears around it to simply drive. I mention her journey because it’s partially my journey too as my husband and I are teaching her to drive ourselves. What I’ve noticed as a key aspect of her going from lamenting at the impossibility of it all last Wednesday night to feeling glad that she went driving the past few days and seeing some progress has simply been going out to drive regularly with us.
My husband and I struggled a bit ourselves around how to support her through this mental hurdle to get into the practice she needs. It’s been months of allowing ourselves all to put this driving project on the back burner, so to speak. We finally came up with a system to incentivize her to go driving regularly throughout the week. Here’s one big part of how we finally came to this:
I compared her driving to my exercise habit. I know how hard it can be to make yourself do something when you’re still not quite sure or you’re on the fence, or you doubt that you’re really going to be able to do or achieve what it is you set out to do.
Making Decisions Ahead of Time
I reminded my hubbie how I wake up and exercise every morning no matter how I feel about it (usually about 5 or so days out the week, with few exceptions). No matter how hard or light I push myself while I move how good or bad I feel, I do it. Sometimes I feel on top of the world and do a hard strength building weight routine. Sometimes my energy is lower or my body hurts, and I just go for a short walk or stretch. The point is that if it’s a week day, I generally don’t give myself the choice to not do it — I’ve taken decision-making out of it entirely. It’s with this taking the decision making out of the equation that I can now say I’ve been exercising for the past 2–3 years now. Daily-ish exercise is just part of who I am now.
I know this comparison resonated with my husband because I heard it parroted back to me from my daughter as we were preparing to get started with more regular driving — she let me know this is how her dad explained it to her. LOL.
Choosing actions aligned with values
On a side note, exercise is something I value, know the benefit of, and have chosen to commit to for my own health — mental and physical. This is very similar to my daughter’s desire to drive because of the high value and benefit she has placed on being able to do so for her in the present and hear future as she goes to college. It’s similar to my commitment to writing things and sharing them that I don’t always feel quite capable of wrapping the right words around yet, like this piece now.
All of this is to say that I know the value of taking my own brain, that can get in the way sometimes, out of the equation after I’ve made a decision that I know aligns with my values and the direction I’ve chosen to move.
Non-attachment to the Outcome
When we know something is true for us, it can feel kind to share with our loved ones, like using this intimate knowledge to try to help our daughter make the journey of learning to drive a little less painful — although I’ll leave it to her good judgment and autonomy to decide what’s ultimately most helpful and what’s not on her learning to drive journey.
What I can speak about with confidence is my own experience. I know the value of giving myself the structure and support I need as I cultivate a new practice around something that matters to me. I’ve know it before in habits like exercise and meditation that are big parts of who I am today. And I know it intimately in this very moment, as I commit time and energy and my presence to this piece of writing. There’s no inherent or immediate benefit or payoff of typing up these words, but I do it because there is enough of something that matters to me and feels important to covey that I’ve chosen to start a new ritual for myself around the writing.
Unlike my exercise and meditation practice, writing with any regularity or discipline or commitment to sharing my words is still new. In that newness, it feels similar to the challenge ahead of my daughter as she learns to drive.
And yet here we are, committing to doing something, anything, even the wrong things, probably especially the wrong things, until quite possibly at some point something in the external world coalesces to the point where there is actually is some benefit or payoff or “win” to speak of.
But for today, instead of trying to rush to some invisible tipping point when it feels comfortable, I rest today in the trust that no matter the outcome of this piece of writing or any individual driving practice, there’s a simple clear beauty all it’s own around those first few step that’s full of possibility that could (eventually) go anywhere.