Consistency Is Not My Middle Name {Why Can't I Stick With It?}

Consistency is such a vital part of success. It is essential to stay diligent when you have goals you want to achieve. Right now, many of my goals are learning and developing new skills, each of which require practice.

One haunting example is ballet. There is a class I took at a studio in Shoreline (a bit north of Downtown Seattle) that was awesome. The teacher was wonderful and encouraging, I learned so much and left feeling motivated and excited to return. But every Tuesday following was either interrupted by a pending deadline at work or terrible traffic or I wasn't feeling well.

There always seems to be some circumstance, controllable or not, which stops me from going. Is that why it is so difficult? I'm too busy? Too overwhelmed?

Maybe so, but I am discovering there is something deeper.

The frustration is paramount, especially when I think back to how I felt experiencing that class. It was pure joy. Well, a lot of shyness and nerves, but really a fulfilling experience. I should want to feel that joy again.

I do.

This unfortunately plays into other areas of my life and I am left to wonder if there is something wrong with me. There isn't. But there is something holding me back that has become so repetitive I mistake it as my definition. 

It is fear. Three names; failure, embarrassment, and condemnation. What a lovely heart wrenching mix! The further the joyful experience gets from me, the harder it is to seek it again because I am convinced, in the case of ballet, the teacher will condemn me for not stickin' with it, will think I am not committed, and then I will feel the embarrassment of being inadequate, of not being good enough in her eyes and all other's. 

The crazy thing is, these are all constructed in my mind. I have no concrete proof to support these feelings. I have neither spoken with her nor have I faced any judgment for my dancing ability. Instead I have spoken a negative statement so many times it has become truth. 

But it is not truth. 

This has been a long winding road of mental struggle, and though I cannot say I have completely overcome it, I've found these following tools to be immensely helpful in confidently facing the crippling grip of fear in my life.

 

no.1 change the dialogue.

Repeat after me. I can

I wanted to leave it at that and did for quite some time while writing this post. But simple concepts can be just as overwhelming as complex ones because their simplicity implies ease. Simple does not equal easy. It is challenging because you are unloading years of baggage and sorting through, piece by piece, all of the statements, rhetoric, images and impressions which have told you, you can't. A cruel misguidance. 

Sometimes I can feels like a lie, especially if it is not how you've seen yourself or what past experience has demonstrated. But it is totally possible. We all have the strength and capacity to form new ways of thinking. For me, I have begun to insist more of myself. Not because of what I lack, but because of what I am capable of. Every insistence is based on positivity.

 Another way to change the dialogue?

Form the obstacle or goal into a question. But there's a healthy and a not so healthy way to do it.

Not so healthy way (my usual): "why can't I get to ballet?" or "why am I so terrible at being punctual?"

Healthy way: "how can I get to ballet?" and "what can I do to improve being punctual?"

As soon as we form a question, our mind begins to look for answers, to problem solve. The key difference between these sets of questions is that the first set is of a predisposed negative nature. I'm searching for an answer to a negative question so my mind burrows deep into all my past negative experiences and thoughts (and it's real deep). Whereas asking a question with the emphasis on can, on action, on hopefulness and resolve, my mind is working to find solutions predisposed on uplifted creativity. I may not be able to state in absolute that I can, but that's OK, continuing to ask the right prompting questions will lead to success.

 

no.2 consistent + persistent

There are uncontrollable circumstances that interrupt the activities we want to do. There are also the excuses, which if we remove the veil, we realize they are not as valid as we'd like them to be. The point being consistency is not the only critical element to success. Arguably more crucial is persistence. We are fallible, we revert to old habits, we get sick, injured, distracted, overwhelmed and that consistency breaks. But it can be mended by a persistent attitude. Nothing will stop you from getting back to your goals, from striving for the new habit, and finding success. No matter how much time has passed or progress lost. And it is and will remain a continual process. Great success is coupled with failure, which I am learning, is not a thing to fear. It should be embraced and celebrated because it is giving you the knowledge, experience, and wisdom that only fallible living can create. But they cannot be continually realized and nurtured if not by persistence. 

So how do you make the choice to persist? And make it again and again?

 

no.3 Focus on the Why {the Joy}

I touched on that earlier, how I wanted to feel that joy of dancing again, but I became crippled by fear. I hid behind the excuses and repeated "next time" without ever fully believing it and all the while longing to make it happen. I have learned that every great or even small enterprise needs to have a why,  a foundation with which every decision and action is built upon. It is the substance that gives meaning and purpose to endeavors. Mine, again in the case of dance (and truthfully in many areas of my life) is my Mom. Some of my favorite memories are of us dancing in the kitchen. We didn't even have music half the time, we'd hum a rhythm that our bodies would start moving to, and sometimes we'd get so into it we would make our way through the house, improvisational magic unfolding. She was my inspiration and encouragement in movement.

I think of her and what she gave me. I want to honor that and cultivate it within my life, as much for her, as for me.

I do want to distinguish something about focusing on the joy because I slip in this area a lot. Focusing on the joy does not mean to ignore fear as though it does not exist. It will creep its way into a monstrous form by pushing it aside. Instead, with every ounce of intention, name the fear and hone your thoughts on that which drives you, motivates you, excites you. When doubt, fear's perverse companion, make its way, acknowledge it. Maybe I am not a good ballet dancer for now but I will improve because it makes me happy. Acknowledge doubt and let it go by stating the inevitability of your success. By claiming so, it takes the power away from fear and into your hands of confidence and joy.

It is not about perfection. It is about relishing the inevitability of success and failure in a joyful existence in face of fear. Your happiness is too important to let it be trodden upon.  

 

no.4 focus less on others opinions {imagined or spoken}

I think most of us want to be accepted by our peers and even by strangers if they make up the community we are learning in. I care about people's perception of me. I am oftentimes hyper conscious whether the things I say, how I perform, how I look, is perceived well and appreciated. To be disregarded, deemed inadequate, is an ostracism I hate to face. But the truth is we have the power to take in the opinions of others how we want.

We can take from it what is constructive, a comment intended for our betterment.

We can take the condemnation as their prerogative and not our definition.

We can read the questionable look or body language and remember it is based on our perspective, that it's possible to misconstrue, and to resist assuming the worst. Assume the best or don't give energy to any assumption at all.

Instead direct your energy to your well-being and capabilities because it is that focus and thoughtful resiliency that will bring change.

*

I'm writing these pieces of advice and I'm feeling good about them. They are truths I want to implement, to live by. It is not an overnight achievement because these truths are combating years of demoralized thought, but they are achievable because of (at least) these 4 reasons...

No.1    I can.

No. 2   I will never give up.

No. 3   I love to dance, it makes me feel more connected to my late mom. 

No. 4   I know that people's opinions of me neither define nor master my direction. I will choose to see only the value within them to help me grow and see myself as I am. Worth it.

And so are you.

 

 

Warm wishes,

Kels