YOU ARE NOT STUCK! HERE'S WHY.
You’re smart and capable, and pride yourself on managing all of your responsibilities and showing up to give your best to everyone and everything that needs you—but there’s a problem.
Inside you feel anxious, overwhelmed, and doubt yourself more than you'd like to admit. You're not showing up for yourself in a way that's meaningful, and you don’t know how to change it.
But you know something has to change because taking care of everything on the outside while feeling like this on the inside is taking a toll on your well-being and ability to enjoy your life.
HERE’S THE DEAL
When you’re unable to make changes that have a positive effect on your well-being and quality of life, when you feel stuck, it’s a sign that there’s a significant opportunity for personal growth.
I know it might feel like you’re stuck, especially if you’ve tried to make changes that haven’t worked or that you haven’t been able to stick to. (Pun intended!) But here’s the deal:
- It’s not your fault you feel stuck.
- Changing is surprisingly simple.
These bold statements are backed by neuroscience, and once you understand why you feel stuck, and how to actually make a change, you will be able to do so in your life with relative ease.
First, let me explain why it’s not your fault you feel stuck.
HERE’S THE WHY
Your brain is wired to find and follow patterns.
Let me explain. The first time you drove a car, it was a lot for your brain to learn how to use everything like the steering wheel, gas, and brake pedals, all the mirrors, etc., and to maneuver the car and stay on the road, turn when necessary, stop at red lights, avoid other cars, etc.
As you learned, your brain created specific connections, called neural pathways, to process the information it needed to drive the car, and, with practice, these connections strengthened, and driving got easier. At some point, you went from learning how to drive to knowing how to drive.
Now, the truth is, you can drive and barely pay attention at all. Your brain works this way with anything you do repeatedly. It finds patterns and creates strong neural pathways so that routine tasks like driving can be done on auto-pilot. (No pun intended this time.) And this happens a lot.
There are patterns in the way you use your body, like how you sit, stand, walk, get in and out of bed, get dressed, exercise, or not. Habits like drinking coffee every morning, biting your nails, picking up your phone at red lights, eating fast, procrastinating, taking vitamins, and worrying are patterns. And there are patterns in how you think, like your political views, your likes and dislikes, being indecisive or jumping to conclusions, seeing the glass as half-full or half-empty.
Just about anything you do over and over again physically, mentally and even emotionally, becomes automatic in your brain, something that seems to happen without a conscious choice.
HERE’S THE TRUTH
Your brain’s ability to put patterns on auto-pilot is helpful when it comes to things like, driving, getting dressed, reading, using technology, etc., but you also have automatic patterns that make your life harder. Perhaps you slouch, are impatient, judge yourself, ignore your feelings, jump to conclusions, assume the worst, or believe that stress is bad for your health.
Like any pattern reinforced by repetition, these become automatic in your brain, which feels like something you do unconsciously. So, because of the way your brain works, it’s easy to feel stuck and unable to change, but it’s not a character flaw and it’s not your fault.
That said, the truth is that you are in charge of your brain! You can consciously choose your routines, habits, thoughts, behaviors, and attitudes so that you change the patterns that are making your life harder, you just have to take charge of it.
HERE’S THE HOW
Changing any pattern that’s not working for you is surprisingly simple, there are only 2 steps:
- Clarify the pattern you want to change.
As your yoga therapist, I highly recommend that you identify one very specific pattern to change at a time, like picking up your phone at red lights or procrastinating on a certain task you avoid or worrying about a particular situation in your life right now.
- Take charge of opportunities to choose.
When the pattern you identified in step 1 is happening, practice taking charge of your brain and deliberately choosing to do something different. What would otherwise be an automatic pattern is now a chance to create a new pattern one choice at a time.
Here are some unhelpful patterns and simple positive shifts you can choose to practice:
- Instead of picking up your phone at a red light, choose to focus on your breath.
- Instead of procrastinating on a task, choose to take the smallest possible action.
- Instead of worrying about a situation, choose to think about the best-case scenario.
Getting unstuck from and changing a well-established pattern may not be easy at first, but it will with practice. You know why, right? Because your brain is wired to find and follow patterns. So, every time you deliberately choose your behavior, thought, or attitude, it creates and then strengthens new neural pathways. As that happens, the pattern you’re changing stops being reinforced by repetition weakens in your brain and becomes less and less automatic.
This ability of your brain to change is called neuroplasticity. It happens one choice at a time and is possible for your entire life!