We tend to emphasize the most recent data and use it as a baseline for how things will continue to happen in the future. Unfortunately, this recency bias leads us to make decisions based on the assumption that things will continue as they have, indefinitely.
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Hi, friends! It’s Elizabeth here, and I am so excited to share Episode 762 of Primal Potential with you today! Primal Potential is a podcast all about you — your ability to change is not defined by yesterday and doesn’t need to wait until tomorrow. Your transformation is now, no matter what stage you find yourself in life!
Today, I want to talk to you guys about discouragement. About the hard times. About what it’s like to struggle and feel like you just can’t get it together.
It’s a heavy subject I know, haha, but I think it’s vital that we talk about it because every one of us experiences dark times.
So often I speak with clients and who say to me, “Elizabeth, I feel like I just can’t get it together!” I talk to people in my 12 Weeks of Transformation program, and they talk about how they struggle with everything from their jobs to their weight loss goals, and they just don’t know what to do. In fact, “regroup,” “reset,” and “get it together” are some of the words I hear the most often.
But I don’t just want to talk about how hard life can be! I want to help you guys with this. Heck, I want to help myself with this too. Because the truth is, there is always hope, and we can always pick ourselves up and continue succeeding and thriving, no matter what lemons we have to make into lemonade!
I recently flipped back through my book, Chasing Cupcakes, to rediscover some useful tools and perspectives I think we can all use to help us get it together. I am so excited to share them with you today!
Navigating the Darkness
To fully understand how we can reset ourselves and feel like we’re getting our lives together, I think it’s vital that we first understand how we get to these points of struggle in the first place. I titled chapter 15 of my book Chasing Cupcakes “Navigating the Darkness,” and I chose to start it off with this quote:
“If you lose the spirit of repetition, your practice will become quite difficult.”
Do you ever feel like you’re really in that flow, you’ve got a good thing going, and everything’s going right… but then something unexpected comes along and throws a wrench in the works? Life was so easy, but now, getting back to that easiness feels tough.
I have so many memories of experiencing this problem with my diet and exercise patterns. I have struggled with my weight my whole life, but there have been times when I’ve managed it well! I would go to the gym, do a lot of that good, healthy cooking, and really take care of myself! But then something negative would happen. I’d gain a little weight. I’d give in to my temptation to flop down in front of the tv instead of hitting the gym. Something totally unrelated would happen to upset me, and I’d find myself on the couch binging on all the junk food I could find.
In short, I’d lose the spirit of repetition. I’d get out of the habit of making healthy choices, and find getting back into the regular practice of taking care of my body insanely tricky.
In those moments when you’ve fallen out of your productive practices, and you’re struggling to get it together, you can feel like you’re in a deep hole, and you’ll never get out.
But that’s when I like to remember what I call The First Rule of Holes.
The First Rule of Holes is this: stop digging. Let me explain: When you’re in a bad situation, simply refuse to make it worse. If you’ve gotten in the habit of binging Netflix instead of going for a run, don’t sit down on the couch first thing in the morning. If you struggle with writing a little each day while working on your new novel, don’t put your notebooks back on a dusty shelf. Often, when we don’t immediately find the solution to our problems, we give up and give in to our unhealthy patterns. But if we can stop making the problem worse, we can take a step back, evaluate the situation, and start intentionally recreating that awesome, productive flow we had before.
Never Quit On A Bad Day
“Okay,” you may be thinking, “that makes sense, but it still doesn’t solve my problem. I’m still in a hole! I just want to give up.”
I get it. It’s a fair point—How can you convince yourself to endure those moments when you simply want to quit and can make a solid case for easing off or giving up?
Let me share with you another great piece of advice I learned from the Russian gymnast Nastia Liukin. Nastia began training when she was just three years old. She was a full-time athlete by the time she was in grade school! On top of that, her father was her coach, and he was a demanding one. Her training regimen was overwhelming, and often Nastia would go to her mother in tears and beg to quit being a gymnast.
Her mother’s response was brilliant and instructive. She would say, “You can absolutely quit! You don’t have to do this. But you can’t quit on a bad day.”
Now, inevitably Nastia would get through the hard day and come back the next day \re-energized and ready to practice, and her mother would ask her if she still wanted to quit. “Of course not!” she’d say. And look at her now! She’s such an incredible and talented gymnast, and all because her mother never allowed her to quit on a bad day.
It can be so easy to let our emotions guide us. When we’re upset or angry at ourselves, the temptation to give up and just quit is overwhelming! But if you commit to never giving up on a bad day and instead of taking a step back, giving yourself a break, and reevaluating the situation when you’re in a better state of mind, you’re so much more likely to find a better solution to get back on track!
Create Some Space For Yourself
Let’s continue to talk about this idea for a minute. So we’ve established that once you’re in a hole, the first rule is to stop digging. Don’t make the problem worse! Then, when you’re tempted just to give up trying to get out of the hole, remember: Never give up on a bad day. Wait until you’ve had some time to recover from your negative emotions, and then start working toward getting back into your good flow.
So how can you now renew your commitment to pursuing whatever awesome goal you have?
My advice? Create some space between yourself and your urge to indulge or give up.
I’ll use myself as an example again! I’ve been in this great pattern lately of taking care of myself, eating healthy, exercising, the works! But a few weeks ago, I got this random and massive craving for pancakes. Pancakes aren’t even my favorite food or anything, I just really really wanted some!
Now, I could have immediately given in, driven to IHOP, and had a big stack of pancakes… but that wouldn’t have been super great for that healthy diet I had so carefully established. So instead, I just decided I would enjoy some pancakes on Saturday, but until then, I had to be even more committed to my healthy lifestyle than usual and make the most excellent food choices I could!
And let me tell you… by the time Saturday came around, I didn’t even want those pancakes! I had good food choice after good food choice, got up Saturday morning, went to the gym, and by then, I felt so good about the healthy choices I was making that I decided just to keep the ball rolling!
Of course, that’s not to say that pancakes are always bad. It’s certainly not a terrible thing to indulge once in a while or occasionally reward yourself for making healthy and productive choices! The key is that by creating some space between myself and temptation to indulge, I was able to make a lot of healthy decisions and ultimately stay on track with my health goals!
A Brighter State of Mind
I know I don’t have to tell you that life can throw some major curveballs. Sometimes things are just super challenging! But if you can remember to stop making the problem worse, choose not to quit on a bad day, and create some space between yourself and your negative urge to give up, you can reach a brighter state of mind.
Once you’re in that brighter state of mind, you are much better equipped to evaluate your situation and make choices. Even if you’ve gotten off track, if you can let that emotional low state pass by and start thinking clearly again, you can make better decisions and keep making amazing, transformational changes in your life.
I promise you guys—you can do this. You can get it together!
If you’d like some extra support, a little more coaching, and accountability, to really get you going, I want you to get on the waitlist for our next 12 Weeks of Transformation! In this program, I work with people in a much more personal and structured way to create change. We tackle our excuses head-on and find the core values that will motivate you to take action. If you’re not sure what to do next, I encourage you to check out 12 Weeks to Transformation and get on that waitlist!
I’d also love to connect with you via text! I send out text messages with my daily mindset upgrades and daily encouragement that we could all use during these uncertain times of COVID-19.
Love you all! You got this!