I’ve been attempting to write a bit more consistently and it’s been quite a challenge. One thing that has been interesting for me has been the recent increase in working with couples as a therapist. It is such a different vibe than seeing a person by themselves or a family as a whole. A spouse/partner can be your best friend or worst enemy and a lot of things in between. One thing that many of my clients have in common is the fact that they failed to make the small changes that would have helped them to avoid the major issues that came up. They grew apart over the course of months and years and they became so comfortable with avoiding meaningful communication that the other individual has become a stranger. But the truth is that you can’t undo years of damage overnight; there’s too much disconnection and both people have been going in different directions. It’s in those times that a major course correction is necessary. One of the things that I’ve learned is it the importance of making minor course corrections when they are still minor. Checking in, talking about tough stuff, and making time for each other are some of the things that have to be done intentionally because it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture and take your partner for granted. Developing healthy communication patterns and fighting respectfully and effectively while remaining emotionally connected is a narrow tightrope to walk on. However, the things that are worthwhile are worth doing well. Great relationships don’t happen haphazardly. They are maintained through intentional effort, time, and emotional connection.
Lately I’ve been on this health kick. Technically I probably shouldn’t call it that because it’s a lifestyle change and I’m consciously being more intentional about making healthy choices. It’s been a very very very challenging six weeks but it’s been good to see some of the results I’ve been wanting. Through this process I’ve been reminded of how important having discipline is to daily life. This was a reality that I also faced last year when I had to get my shit together and finally finish my dissertation. Nothing would be written unless I stopped making excuses and actually sat down to write and became intentional about doing so. So here I am again tapping into that same part of myself to improve and to consistently workout. I thought about the concept of internal integrity and how crucial it is to achieving success. It means that you keep the promises that you make to yourself. Self talk is one of those things that impact us even if we don’t necessarily always consciously realize it. Our actions and emotions are closely tied to what we tell ourselves and our internal dialogue. Internal integrity means that you are a person of your word and that you follow through–even when you want to change your mind about a course of action because you’ve already said you’d do it. A great example of this is the fact that I decided to juice for three days and while I absolutely hated it, I stuck to it because it was what I had promised myself I would do. It was hard but I knew that I could do it because I’ve had to discipline myself in other areas of my life. The mind is a powerful tool and I personally think that it’s important to make a practice of making decisions that have a long term positive impact even if they cause short term discomfort. It’s those types of decisions that pave the way for long term meaningful change. I don’t know if the process gets easier but I hope eventually that it does.
I remember reading somewhere that men are like waffles because they can easily compartmentalize while women are similar to spaghetti because everything is connected in some way. Once again I’ve relocated and along with the change in location has come a renewed commitment to be more healthier after I was challenged to make better choices. There’s this story in the Bible about a guy that had a skin disease and he was told to wash in a muddy river 7 times. The guy almost turned around and went home because he was expecting to be told to do something big and the remedy was just too simple. However, his maid convinced him to do it and it worked. In a world of fad diets, special equipment, and fancy fitness plans that consume your life, there still isn’t a substitute for eating healthy and exercising regularly. It’s a solution that seems too simple to a lot of people so they spend money (sometime unnecessarily) in the hope that it will take the place of hard work and discipline. I’ve learned more about discipline in these last few weeks than I have in a long while. It’s the same kind of internal motivation that I had to use in order to finally finish my dissertation and it’s really uncomfortable. However, it’s the only way to get the results that I want. It’s not something that I can delegate or outsource to anyone else. Like most decisions to make some significant changes, the question is, “How bad do you want it?” I’ve always admired people who genuinely enjoy working out but as I’ve been more consistent I can see how it can become a habit–regardless of the degree of “like.” I’m looking forward to seeing how this turns out despite the fact that it’s still uncomfortable. But anything worth doing is worth doing well and I’ve never been one to back down from a challenge.
So today I tried yoga for the first time with my AirBnB host. It’s been something that I’ve wanted to try for a while but never quite got around to. I’m trying to be healthier and I vowed that this year I would try to have some new experiences. So to a yoga class I went. The first thing I noticed was that I really wasn’t flexible. I don’t make stretching a frequent practice and boy did it show as I was trying to breathe and stay in the same position at the same time. The teacher talked about trusting the Universe and just relaxing. For the life of me I couldn’t bring myself to relax. I admire those people who can automatically calm themselves down and focus on the present. I haven’t mastered it yet. I could feel my anxiety rise as the quiet music played and the class was quiet with everyone practicing their breaths. I thought about all the uncertainty that I’m surrounded by and what the week would be like. My mind raced to how hard it is being single sometimes and the trips that I had planned. I tried my hardest to focus on the present but the planner in me needed something to do. While I want to try yoga again, I need to try it on vacation because I’m usually a bit more relaxed and maybe I’ll get through without distractions. The class was good but seemed incredibly long. I really liked the focus on being grateful and eliminating distractions. It’s something I need to do more.
Like millions of other people, I had the New Years Resolution of becoming healthier. For me this included going to the gym instead of just thinking about going there. As much as I like the idea of being healthy, I like doing what I want as well. But this week I decided a change was in order. I actually joined a gym and paid a pretty penny to do so. My goal isn’t to become a bodybuilder or anything–just to fit more comfortably in an economy airline seat. The gym I joined offers fitness classes 6 times a week and I decide to go to 4 classes a week. I wouldn’t have to make up a whole routine–I could just try to keep up without passing out. There’s a personal trainer who leads each class and provides direction. A decent start. So I started out on the first day just hoping that I wouldn’t die. I had been dreading the class the whole day and knew that I just needed to get it over with. It wasn’t impossible but it was difficult. But I made it through the first class, and the next one, and the next. The soreness was excruciating but I pushed through. Now I don’t know if I’ll see any difference or notice any changes, but at least I’ll be consistent.