What You Practice Grows Stronger
“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, it’s what we do consistently” - Tony Robbins
Take a look at your daily routine.
With kindness and curiosity.
Visualize your day from start to finish - bringing attention to things you do repeatedly.
Snoozing the alarm 4 times, checking your phone first thing, showering, brushing your teeth, getting kids to school, driving to work etc…
We don’t think very much about doing these things, and yet, we are really good at them.
Because we do them consistently.
What we practice grows stronger.
This is true of the behaviors we do regularly like taking daily morning walks, biting your nails, and after dinner snacks whether or not we're even hungry.
It is also true of our thoughts and inner dialogue.
If we practice worrying and comparing ourselves to others, those thoughts grow stronger. Similarly, if we practice gratitude and self-compassion, those qualities will be reinforced.
It happens without us even realizing; it's on autopilot
Which is wonderful when the behaviors are both automatic AND beneficial:
Taking three deep breaths before you get out of bed each morning
Brushing your teeth
Putting on your sneakers first thing and going right out for a walk
Calling a friend or family member each morning to catch up
But what about the behaviors that are well-practiced, but that AREN'T serving us so well….
They’re in there also, and they too are very well practiced.
They might look like:
Pouring that second, third, or sixth glass of wine at the end of the day
Eating well past the point of comfortable fullness
Staying up too late
Going down that late-night social media rabbit hole
And while none of these things on their own are ‘bad’, we can run into trouble when they become our autopilot; the thing we practice most.
The one-off night staying up late to finish your favorite Netflix series, or the extra cocktails on a fun night out, or staying in bed on a rainy morning rather than getting up for yoga isn’t what’s important.
It’s what you do consistently that matters.
WE BECOME WHAT WE REPEATEDLY DO
I like to think of it like going to the gym. The muscles you work and focus on will grow stronger.
If you only work your biceps, your biceps are going to get really strong. And the more you focus on them, the stronger they will get.
If having strong biceps is your goal, then keep going!
But if what you really want is stronger legs, and you're habitually spending all your time on biceps, your practicing the wrong thing...
It’s the same with us and with our habits; we need to practice working the muscles (ie habits, behaviors, thoughts) that we want to grow stronger.
If you consistently practiced sitting on the couch watching Netflix, you would be really good at being inactive and watching shows. Which is great if that's what you want to be really good at.
However, if you want to run a marathon, you need a different strategy.
Put your attention and focus on the thoughts and behaviors that you want to strengthen.
Want to add more movement into your day? Practice getting up and moving - instead of making excuses and judging yourself because your body doesn’t move like it did 15 years ago.
Want to heal your relationship with food? Practice awareness, self-compassion and deep listening - rather than judgment, shame and guilt.
Want to enhance your deep listening skills? Practice listening to understand, rather than listening to respond.
Want deeper connection in your life? Practice connecting inwards and establishing a solid foundation of trust and stability, rather than reaching outwards trying to please others and fit in.
Sounds logical, right?
Yes, but it’s (as it often is….) easier said than done.
THE CHALLENGE IS THREE-FOLD
Three things get in the way of us creating and practicing the behaviors and thoughts that we actually WANT more of in our lives.
We don’t take the time to SLOW DOWN and take stock. To notice what our thoughts and actions are creating for us. To make it even more challenging, many of our negative habits are often on autopilot - just humming away in the background. Let’s bring them to the forefront.
We don’t even know what we want more of in our lives - often because we don’t take the time or mental energy to think about it. We are so scheduled and rushed that we don’t give ourselves enough time for quiet, stillness and honestly, just doing nothing.
Once we have a better idea of what we want more of (ie what we need to practice doing more), we have no plan for getting there.
GRAB A PIECE OF PAPER &
LET’S PRACTICE TOGETHER
STEP 1: As we often do, we’ll start with slowing down, and bringing focused awareness to what’s already here.
What are you practicing?
How are you spending your time?
Mentally go through your day - what are you doing consistently?
Good, bad and indifferent.
Write it down.
For example, are you practicing snoozing the alarm 5 times and then feeling rushed and frantic in the mornings, or are you practicing taking 3 connecting breaths and then getting out of bed without all the drama.
Are you consistently taking time for yourself, are you comparing to others, are you creating time for movement, are you slowing it down with deep breaths, are you mindlessly rushing through lunch at your desk….
What comes up?
Chances are there are some things that you do often that are working really well for you.
Great! Keep practicing those things; stick with what works.
And there are likely some things you are regularly doing or thinking that are not getting you the results you want in your life.
There is room here for growth.
STEP 2: Identify what you want more of in your life
Now that you’re more aware of the results that your actions and thoughts are creating for you, ask yourself this question...
What do I want more of in my life?
Write it down. All of it.
More positivity, love, connection, time, great moments, deep listening, happiness, comfort, growth, contribution, joy, movement, peace with food, fulfillment etc…
Don't worry if you think it's unattainable, or if it's too far fetched, or it feels scary to want something so big/important/silly.
Just write it down.
No one ever needs to see it. This is for you.
The simple act of writing it out forces you to get very clear about what it is you want for your life.
And this is FAR more than most people ever allow themselves to dream.
How can you create the life you really want, if you don't even know what it looks like?
STEP 3: Create a plan to get there
Goal Setting is KEY here! Also check out this article which lists 5 steps to creating a new habit ;)
Write down the specific things you will need to start practicing - to start doing regularly (ie every day!) - in order to get there.
Consider working the following practices into your life and imagine what could change...
Active living - taking the stairs, swapping out family movie night for family sports night, being active every single day
Honoring your hunger - eating what you want, when you want it
Believing the best of others
Taking a deep breath so you can respond, rather than react
Taking up space physically and emotionally
Accepting what is
Taking time for yourself every day
Mindfulness and awareness
Smiling at yourself when you look in the mirror
Getting comfortable with discomfort as a prerequisite for growth
Start practicing the thoughts and behaviors that will get you where you want to be.
And when you run up against challenges - which you will because they are INEVITABLE - don't make it mean anything about you.
Course correct as needed and KEEP GOING.
When you bring awareness to what you want, and create a plan for how to get there, you are unstoppable.
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