On the other end of the continuum I’ve heard, “I won’t _____________ (fill in the blank)” or “Every day I will _________________.”
On one extreme are half-hearted attempts at changing a behavior (perhaps unconscious), and on the other are absolutes that just might fall through the cracks and result in feelings of failure and discouragement (also often unconscious).
The middle ground? The space between the event and the response.
The space where breathing takes place, slowing down, critical assessment of what needs attention in the present moment, and an honest noticing of what is right here, right now.
It’s a space where we recognize what holes we’re dragging ourselves into through our distorted and unrealistic, completely off-base thoughts and perceptions.
A space that welcomes creativity and a turning over of our well-worn beliefs and stories that so often were not written by us but that we’re living out.
A space that reveals the fresh earth beneath the hardened and biased outer shell that we barely take notice of.
It’s a space of vulnerability that often unveils the shame driving our behaviors. It’s a gap filled with ‘aha’ moments we’ll never have unless we give ourselves permission to step into it.
It’s a time where we realize we’ve adopted someone else’s goal.
A moment when the fog lifts and even if painful we decide to let someone or something go that we’ve been clinging to.
A glimpse of our power and our courage.
A reach toward compassion for what we’ve left behind and forgotten, or actively thwarted and stuffed away because we erroneously believed it needed to be hidden from others.
This middle ground– the space– is always there. We rarely, however, give ourselves permission to experience it. It’s inside of us. Ever taken the time to finally clean off your computer monitor and you’re struck by the clarity of the screen? The vibrant colors that pop out at you? The colors have always been there- you just weren’t seeing them.
Behavior change is hard. Just thinking about being different or doing something different is exciting. Totally different ballgame when you’re in the throes of the intentionality and practice that comes along with it.
If you’re not used to looking for the colors, you have to start looking for them. And you have to look for them constantly. You have to stop running from yourself and what you give to yourself, be it a thought, a feeling, or a behavior. Each of these may be inappropriate, ugly, or incongruent from what or how you believe you should be thinking, feeling, or behaving, but none of that matters.
They are colors. And when you see them, you can paint with them. You as the artist. Your life as the canvas.
The middle ground is a place of opportunity. A place where we can ask “What if?” and see what comes up rather than an obstacle in our path. It may be fear. It may be doubt. It may be excitement. Or it may be anticipation. But with each of these also comes a choice. Will you give yourself permission to see the full spectrum of the fear? Can you walk from the deep, pulsating reds that screaming “Stop! Don’t take another step!” to the calming “Come this way, it will be okay” life-giving greens?
I think you can.