“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.”
I love this quote and I found myself advising one of my friends this week to take small actions every day towards a goal she has instead of expecting to eat the fruit of a tree she hasn’t planted or watered consistently. By the way, this advice is one that I personally need to remember on a daily basis. As I usually say, I remind you of this today in the hopes that you can remind me tomorrow.
A couple weeks ago I got the flu and it forced me to slow down completely, I was in bed for almost 6 days straight. I stopped doing my normal routine, I didn’t feel good enough to go to yoga class, I didn’t attend the exercise class that I go to 2-3 times a week and it wasn’t responsible to show up to a small closed space with the flu anyway. Right after I got the flu my parents came to visit for a week and I was still recovering so I basically changed my lifestyle for 2 weeks.
Then finally feeling better I booked my class for the 7am Monday yoga class as I usually do and then on Tuesday I also went to the exercise class which is 20 mins away from my house and it starts at 7am. While I was on my way to this class I had the realization that it actually takes effort to attend it. I have been attending for maybe a little over 6 months and I love it so I got so used to the routine that I was getting there in autopilot. But this day, after taking 2 weeks off I realized that it is the furthest I usually drive to, it requires going to sleep the day before around 10pm so I can properly rest, it requires being out of bed early, driving through one of the busiest roads around here and the total commute takes over 40mins between the 20mins it takes me to get there and 20mins back which usually ends up being more because I hit rush hour on the way back home.
And in that moment of realization that going to this class takes effort I had a few minutes in which I felt proud about myself for putting time and energy into something I enjoy. When I got home a funny conversation came up with my friends about the way we usually approach sharing food with our significant other. And, I shared how my husband would usually leave the last bite of something he likes for me and I honestly don’t think I would ever do that. I somehow don’t feel shame saying that if I’m eating my favorite pizza and I have one bite left, it will not cross my mind to give it to someone else. Of course considering that he already ate his pizza.. if someone was hungry in front of me I wouldn’t think twice about giving them my pizza.
That same day one of my friends shared how she was struggling with over reacting with someone that has hurt her deeply with his actions and his daily choices. It has taken a lot of personal work for her to heal the many different wounds that the actions of this person created. Unfortunately for her, she cannot escape the interactions with this person and instead she must face it on a daily basis. But, her biggest issue was realizing that in that fraction of a second that she has to respond to this person’s comments or actions she has actually chosen to respond in the same hurtful way even when she knows that it means that it will take her peace away. In other words, she realized that she is not choosing herself when she is presented with the option to respond in these situations.
This was not the first time we were talking about how hard it was for her to choose herself in many decisions she has been presented with this year. Earlier during the week she also mentioned that it was impossible to put her needs first with a specific situation she has been going through. And, as someone that loves understanding our pre-programmings at a biological level so that I can use different tools that help me overcome these limitations I immediately shared with her this interview I watched with a neuroscientist in which she talked about the importance of over writing the familiar neural pathways our brain has created.
In the interview they talked about how the brain is an organ that will always look for energy efficiency which is the reason why the brain will always choose the familiar pathways. These neuro pathways are the ones that we have created with our daily choices, we have literally built the way in which our brain is dictating how we will respond . She was very clear in making the distinction that we cannot necessarily erase neuro pathways that we have created but we can definitely over write them. So, think about this like your commute to work every single day, you have chosen a specific route to get there and I’m sure it’s happened before that half way through your commute you feel like you just woke up or you were so distracted thinking about something else that you have no idea how you even got on the high way but somehow you are safe and in the right place.
Well, that is an example of the way in which our brain is choosing what’s familiar because is efficient. So, if one day you wanted to take another route it will take more of your attention, effort and energy to figure out where the exit is, how long you have to make a turn, how fast the stop light takes and so on. And, I shared this with my friend because on the way to my exercise class I realized that I have been creating neuro pathways in my brain every day by choosing things that nurture me and in turn these choices have made it easier for me to choose myself with every situation I’m presented with. Of course I’m not saying that I do it 100% of the time, but I notice it comes easier and easier every time.
Unfortunately, for my friend and her current situation it hasn’t been as easy to do the same on a daily basis and in those big moments when she is even aware of the choice she has to choose her inner peace her biological programming has chosen the familiar, the energy efficient way, which has meant over reacting and responding in ways she won’t be proud of. The good news is that choosing ourselves doesn’t necessarily mean taking 2 hours of our day to go to an exercise class. Choosing ourselves can be expressed in an infinite amount of ways, the important part here is doing it consciously even if it’s for only 5 minutes.
And because life works in the most beautiful ways, the day we talked about this I came across a practice in one of the books I was reading and it suggested taking 5 mins for ourselves 3 times a day. In the first 5 minutes, you can play music that you enjoy. Then, perhaps in the middle of the day we can give ourselves 5 mins to close our eyes and notice what we are thinking about, just observing these thoughts. And, finally at the end of the day we can give ourselves 5 mins to lay on the ground and place our favorite crystal on our chest. If you are not into crystals you can also do aromatherapy.
So, I really wanted to share this here because so many of us have been trained to put everyone else before us and without realizing it that has taken our power away. And, the most important and beautiful thing to remember is that whenever we consciously choose ourselves and build that evidence that shows that we love and care for our well being on a daily basis we will automatically show up better for others and in turn we will make our relationships and our world a more loving place.
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