Have you ever tried to start a new habit only to find yourself frustrated again and again? The knowledge for the new behavior is there, but it’s so easy to fall back into old patterns.
This web site is filled with information to increase your knowledge: self-care strategies, helpful websites, and books that can be a part of improving our overall happiness. But let’s also take a look and reflect back on why we haven’t always been successful … or why starting a new habit seems to take so long to develop. This time of reflection is an important part of increasing our mindfulness or becoming more aware of what is going on inside of ourselves as well as with others. We also need to recognize that each day brings new possibilities. The difficult moments we experience become a part of our journey as well as opportunities for hope.
Here’s the reality – being able to “turn off” the chaos of the day from work or from home and to be fully present in the moment is a skill. Retraining our brain to respond differently to our triggers – to create that pause within our minds before we speak or act – is also a skill. It takes time.
Many of us expect these changes to be made in a way that shows slow, steady progress (there are also those of us who also expect the curve to be steeper). We can become frustrated with ourselves when we experience barriers in our progress. It can be very easy to tell ourselves that the changes we are making are not possible. The process is too hard. We become frustrated and give up.
Science has shown that our actual learning curve is very different from our expectations. Most of us will take a step back before change starts to take place. “The learning curve is not a gradual rise in performance but is a drop in performance followed by improvement” (Pulley & Wakefield, 2014). Recognizing that the steps back are normal can give us freedom from our own misplaced expectations. The changes we want to make… the commitment to better care for ourselves are a part of our journey. Be patient and kind to yourself in that process.
Pulley, M. L., & Wakefield, M. (2014). Building resiliency: How to thrive in times of change. Greensboro, NC: Center for Creative Leadership.