I'm a big fan of either giving stuff away or just throwing it out. I figure that if it's no longer useful or helpful, what's the use in keeping it? You'd think it would then be easy to let go of habits that no longer serve me. Out with the old and in with the new, right? But, I'm human...

Our brains are like trash compactors; they take in information, process it, and then store it. With each new experience, our brains then use the stored information to understand our current circumstances. Many scientists refer to this process as "hard-wiring." This is why it takes a substantial amount of time to break a habit, because essentially you are "rewiring" the brain.

That said, let's just admit it: the real reason "rewiring" takes so long is the extreme discomfort we experience when we enter the unfamiliar--the place that makes you feel anxious, insecure, lonely, and slightly imbalanced? It's so much easier to return to our comfort zone, even if it means living the same old narrative and repeating the same patterns that are truly no longer serving us. We're so tied to the stories we tell about yourselves: I am this, not that. Oh, I don't do that, but I do this. 

So, I have a challenge for 2014: DO THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT YOU'VE ALWAYS DONE. Catch yourself, even in the smallest moments. 

Here are a few of my own:

  1. As a long-distance runner for almost 25 years, normally I would run through physical pain. So instead, I will stop, stretch, and walk until I feel better. 
  2. Normally, I am quick to dole out advice. So instead, I will just listen. 
  3. Normally, I refrain from affection. So instead, I will give more hugs. 

Now you try:
Normally I would.... 
So instead, I will....

No step-by-step process this month, peeps. Just really simple: Whatever it is that you 'normally' do, DO THE OPPOSITE. See how it feels. Rattle the cage a bit. Sit with the discomfort or angst. The ego will want to hold on tightly, aching for that sense of comfort. But just breathe through it. Know that everything will be okay. The world won't fall apart if you're not the same person you've always been. In fact, you may become the person you always dreamed you'd be.

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." --Anais Nin

Posted on January 18, 2014 and filed under 2014 Challenge.