I read recently, “You don’t have to to have it all figured out to move forward.” It makes me think of my highlight reel of negative self talk – the judgments that seem to always be with us and leading us to feel as if I need to improve, quickly. Researchers estimate that we think about 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day – and that about 80% of those thoughts are negative. The messages that we haven’t done enough or that we aren’t enough, can leave us feeling defeated. Which in turn keeps us trapped in that negative feedback loop and in some cases can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Being in this place is exhausting. The repeated messaging that we aren’t enough wears us down – and by virtue of listening to it, and worse yet believing it, we stay stuck. We begin to believe we can’t do all that we want and because we believe it, it becomes true. That false belief saps our energy and leaves us feeling too worn down to pursue our goals or even to take that next step.
Negative self-talk is a workhorse – it simply plows the same row every day. It does not like obstacles or challenges, it just wants to plod the same path and get back to paddock by sundown. This routine may not work for us any longer, we may want to shift gears and try something new but that horse just wants to tread the familiar path. It does not like flashy colors or new routes, in fact if not for the passage of time it would hoe the same row every day if it could. The routine is predictable, the routine is safe, the routine assures that we will get back to the paddock just as we left it. There will be no injuries or negative push-back because we will have done the same thing every day. And walking that path is easy, we know we have the fitness for it, we know the way and won’t get lost. It is easier to do the same thing every day and not make any changes.
The old line, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results,” comes to mind. We can’t do the same things if we want different results. We cannot continue our current exercise routines and wake up one morning to run a marathon. When we get caught in a comfortable routine we can find ourselves fearful or hesitant to try something new – we’re afraid to leave our comfort zone. That is understandable because the workhorse in us just wants to get back to the paddock safely and the only way to guarantee that outcome is to take the same steps over and over.
The thing is that if we never try something new or step out of our comfort zone we leave no room for magic or inspiration. We simply get home safely with nothing new to share at the dinner table. There’s a lot to be said for the joys of a simple life and a smooth day but if your heart is longing for a little adventure, wanderlust, or surprise. I hope you’ll coax that workhorse out of its rut and take a ride into town. I hope you’ll stretch in a new direction or try a new routine. You don’t have to wake up and go hot air ballooning but maybe try a new breakfast recipe, or meet a friend for lunch. Make time and space in your life for magic and see if it doesn’t add a spring in your step, a richness to your life, and a little spark that you might nurture into something new for yourself and the world. I am going to try it and I hope you do too – tell me what new things you try below!