Let’s talk about willpower.
Willpower is another lie that perfectionism tells us.
“If you really cared about it you’d power through! Toughen up! Figure it out!”
Not taking action is not a direct result of your lack of caring about a subject. Sometimes you just CAN’T for whatever reason. And you don’t need to justify your can’t.
And there are ways to create action even when willpower is absent.
Here’s a good example: It’s been almost a year since my book writing and editing came to a slow grinding halt.
My brain couldn’t wrap itself around the concept. People kept telling me how excited they were to read it.
“How’s the book writing going?” They’d ask, excited to support me and my work.
“It’s not.” I’d respond with a tinge of self-directed guilt and exhaustion and frustration and shame.
I’ve been experiencing something that I know so many other people have expressed during the pandemic. My loved ones and I are okay. We’re resourced. We have a lot to be grateful for. AND. Shit has been hard. I’ve mentally and emotionally struggled. Smooth brain is real.
Considering this is a subject I’m well versed on, teach, have a ton of resources and tools to use, and literally make a living doing, struggling with my mental health during this pandemic has been an extra mind fuck.
It feels like the equivalent to the cobblers’s children not having any shoes.
If you can relate to this, I want to tell you that taking action on the things that matter to you will be possible again eventually. The important stuff won’t go away. It will follow you.
Lately I’ve felt the book poking me again. Like a tiny entity sitting on my shoulder. “Hey….can we get back to work?”
I’d go to bed and it’d be sitting on my shoulder. When I woke up it’d be sitting on my shoulder.
I finally had the spark to dive back in this week. I told myself I’d simply read through what I’d written. And, of course, I couldn’t help finding typos and grammar mistakes and clunky sentences. I found myself re-invigorated by the content. I have to say, after some time away, I’m truly EXCITED about what’s in the book. It’s all the information I wish I knew 20 years ago about how our brains and bodies work.
For instance, did you know perfectionism and people pleasing are actually survival responses that are hardwired into us as human beings? And there’s nothing wrong with you for struggling with them? Furthermore, did you know can turn the dial down on each of these behaviors and turn the dial up on your autonomy, energy, and independent voice? Did you know you can change your mindset by changing your context? Did you know that the reason I coach via phone is because I often have clients work out tough problems through moving their bodies?
So what’s the lesson here? How can you take action on something that matters when you’re feeling down in the dumps?
- Dose yourself with a huge helping of self-compassion. Not taking action doesn’t mean anything about you. Judgment doesn’t create inspired and sustainable action. Guilt is not a long-term motivator. The more you use guilt to motivate yourself, the more you’ll eventually resist and resent.
- Is this something you can shelve for a bit or does it have to be worked on right now? Be honest with yourself. It’s okay to change your mind and say no to something, even temporarily. Give yourself permission. I made a conscious decision to shelve book writing in lieu of putting my energy toward simply surviving my day-to-day. How can you take the pressure WAY off? It’s amazing what happens when you aren’t forcing.
- Take your expectation bar down about 500 notches. What small, doable, and experimental action can you take that simply allows you to show up? When I thought I could write for a chunk of 1.5 hours at a time like I used to, I was already setting myself up for failure. The first step is to open the computer. Open the document. Read a sentence. Perhaps write one sentence. Start waking up the muscle.
- How can you use others to help inspire your action? I have a complicated relationship with accountability but I know that if I tell someone I care about I’ll show up for something that matters to them, I do it. A good friend of mine was teaching a mini movement class at 7am and I knew if I showed up to her class and then immediately linked the book to that action, I’d open a door for myself. It worked.