Change • DESIRÉE PAIS
If you’re reading this post, I’m sure you already have tools for transformation. I’m sure you’ve been around the evolutionary block or two. I’m sure you’ve tried to make some changes in your life but alas, find yourself in the same sticky spot, over and over, no matter how many times you tell yourself, “Today is the day I’m going to change.”
I know this story oh so well. Learning how to change habits has become my life’s work, or more ironically, my life’s obsession. I’ve spent thousands of dollars in therapy, on workshops, and on healers, to try to change aspects of myself that often felt like pushing a boulder up Mount Fiji. When I started practicing Kundalini Yoga, it helped immensely but there were still a few habits that no matter how hard I tried to change them, I couldn’t shake them. I would start each day with immense optimism and the hope for change but then by the end of the night, I was ridden with guilt and shame for engaging in these self-destructive habits.
A couple months ago, I had a major realization around changing habits: we have to set ourselves up for success and not allow ourselves to fall into the booby trap of our habits. Let me explain. I’ve dealt with acne for a few years now and along with acne came compulsive skin picking, which as we all know, does not help the condition. Every night I would sit in front of the mirror attacking my face, crying myself to sleep, waking up looking worse than when I went to bed. One night, I had spent the night at my best friends house after a long night of dancing, and (gasp!) forgot to wash my makeup off. And guess what? When I looked in the mirror that morning, my skin was actually calmer than it had been in a while. Even after I washed the makeup off in the shower, I couldn’t believe how much different my skin looked just the morning before. It made a lightbulb go off in my head.
No, I’m not suggesting we all sleep with our makeup on every night but it did get me thinking about a very important tool when it comes to making changes: setting ourselves up for success. I realized so much of my nightly routine allowed me to slip into the skin-picking ritual. What if I could change how my evening looked so that I didn’t give myself a chance to play Operation on my skin in front of the mirror? Inspired, I immediately got to work. Instead of leaving all the lights on in my room in the evening, I bought a beautiful lamp that keeps the room very dimly lit so I can’t see any blemishes when I look in the mirror. In the shower, I give myself 30 seconds to wash my face, counting out loud, so I don’t have time to run my fingers across blemishes and give into blindly picking whilst washing. When I get out of the shower, my room is dimly lit and cozy, so I light some candles and apply the most luxurious oil I can find. And because sometimes a book is not enough to distract me from magnetic behaviors, I have Hulu open and ready to watch an episode of New Girl, putting me into a happy place in the evening versus allowing myself to get into my head and obsesses over things that do not need to be obsessed over.
I began to look in all the other areas in my life of where I am not allowing myself to succeed. How am I setting myself up for failure and not for my greatest success? This simple shift in perception has allowed me to really look at all avenues of my life - career, health, relationships - and start to take inventory of where I am still not taking responsibility over my well-being. Our subconscious minds are so powerful, it’s like we’re playing a game of football with it. We have to find ways to dodge oncoming offenders, thoughts and beliefs that don’t make us feel good about ourselves and cause us to engage in neurotic behavior patterns, and powerfully run toward the other end of the field to make a touchdown. Setting ourselves up for Victory is a lot easier when we have a solid plan of action to take our intentions where we want them to go.