Have you got your yoga gear in the car, ready to go? And still, haven’t got to a class for weeks?
You do want to; you know, how great you feel afterwords. But those yoga pants still sitting in your car…Why is it SO hard to make a change and commit to new habits ( habits that we do enjoy). Everyone experience this resistance.
I certainly have.
And then I begin to feel like I failed. Does this sound familiar?
The feeling of failure and then the guilt isn’t helpful. It actually have the exact opposite affect.
One of the most important principle in yoga philosophy is Ahimsa, meaning non-violence. Which you need to extend to yourself too! Need to start with being kind on yourself. Have you ever taken the time to listen to the dialog you have with yourself – would you talk to anyone else like that? … I’ll leave you with this for a moment.
Now take a deep inhale and a long deep exhale, and read on.
The truth is, you didn’t fail. You just need to make your elephant feel more comfortable.
But what elephant, you ask?
Have you heard of the analogy that our rational and emotional brain is like an elephant and the rider. The Rider, the Elephant and the Path is a behavioural psychological model presented by Johnathan Haidt in his book “The happiness hypothesis”. Shall I tell you more about this concept to help you understand why it is so hard to commit to a new habit.
The elephant and the rider: The subconscious and the conscious brain.
The rider sits on top of the elephant and provide the directions for the journey. The rider represents our rational and conscious mind. The one who decides, for example, to implement a new change in our life – like going to yoga, change diet, wake up earlier in the morning.
The elephant is the emotional, subconscious mind who provides the power and energy to get there. Our nervous system’s, aka the Elephant’s job is to keep them both safe and secure. So to get the elephant to move to a new, unknown direction, we need to make it feel safe first.To be able to keep the elephant ( our emotions ) on the path, we make it ( or ourself ) feel comfortable by moving slowly, and giving it ( ourself ) rewards for the small success. For example if you want to move more, but feel overwhelmed with a busy gym, don’t push yourself to join – go for hike/walk/run outside in nature.
Make small goals, that you can reach. And celebrate your small goals! Positive reinforcement is a key for success.
When you do make it to a class, run your first km on the beach, swim a few laps at the pool – be proud of your self. Celebrate you achievement! Evidence shows that it’s not the number of repetition or the number of days we are practicing our new behaviour. The secret of forming new habits and overcoming that resistance is the feeling of success that makes our elephant comfortable.