"You are what you do, not what you say you do." - Carl Jung
When you make an action, there will always be a reaction. No exceptions – it’s the order of the universe. Newton discovered the simplicity of this truth and titled it as his 3rd law in physics. It’s the ultimate rule. When you take a step forward, vibrations scatter throughout the ground. When you breathe, you shift the dust in the air. When you touch a lover’s skin, their nervous system jolts. Your cause will always have an effect.
But there’s something about our human nature that curbs our ability to create a cause. With every moment of our existence, we take action, and it propels a reaction. It’s inevitable, and yet we see action-taking business as being applied to larger circumstances – which is terribly unrealistic.
When it comes to big decisions, we’d rather stay put in the situation we’re in. It’s comfortable for us, and it soothes our survival needs. When something exists outside of our comfort zone, we subconsciously set ourselves up to excuses as to why we can’t reach outside that zone.
Staying at a life-sucking job that pays well but swells you up with angst and stress is the safest option you can think of.
There are not enough job opportunities out there. I’m not qualified enough to get accepted to a nicer job. If I stay longer, I’ll receive longer paid vacation time-off!
And yet, our soul still continues to crush. And by the time we get home, we just want to pass out from immobile exhaustion.
The thought may trace through our awareness, maybe I could just leave and muster some confidence that I can find a better position at a nicer job? But something happens. No further energy goes into that thought. We stay put and decide the effort isn’t worth it.
Effort before all else
People underestimate the power of energy. Wherever you exert your energy towards is where you’ll see the change happen. So the question then shifts to: where’s the package of energy in you that can galvanize the action to be taken outside of you? In other words, where’s the motivation? We need to take a look at commitment now because commitment is simply the energy in you being 100% placed into the action.
Why commitment sucks
For some reason, modern humans have a tendency to put things off. We procrastinate and prolong whatever thing we’ve partially committed in doing.
Which means that we only have one foot placed in committing and the other half is still attached to safety. We tell ourselves it’s almost better for us to remain in the position that promises security and predictability – even if it feels ill-suited. Even if that situation sucks. It’s almost like those of us who only half-commit to an action of any kind feel like if worse-comes-to-worst, we can just resort to the safety net – which is where our other foot remains in.
So that’s the problem.
Nobody wants to commit to anything out of fear that they may evoke regret. And we all know, regret is an uncomfortable feeling. But then, you might just end up regretting not taking action at all. So either way, there’s a tug-of-war between two plausible outcomes, both of which you may be trying to avoid. So you have to ask yourself the question: which one is worth more in the end?
We’re creatures of habit. Our instinctual nature finds solace in routine. Without it, we’d be wrapped up in constant chaos. Perhaps we’d be unable to form belief systems or mental thought processes. We wouldn’t be able to put together words or coherent thoughts and therefore we wouldn’t be able to create, because our minds would be a complete jumbled mess without any consistent practice to solidify our lives. We rely on habits, so there’s nothing wrong with it.
Then what makes a healthy habit?
When I read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, I was wildly impressed. I value taking the time to read a good book here and there, which I feel like these days is becoming increasingly hard to come by. But this one which, upon its release thirty-years-ago, has been a global best-selling book, is honestly mind-bending. It goes far in-depth to bestow the reader with wisdom of the nature of habit. And what I got from it is simply – become aware of your habits. Monitor it. Then make the distinction between those healthy and unhealthy ones. Notice its rippling influence and – here it is – make the commitment to avert away from those malignant habits that you’ve fostered over time.
But alright, what then, makes a healthy habit? I can’t answer that for you. Only for myself, just as only you can answer it for yourself. And it’s actually easy to discover once you get deeply (or not so deeply) in touch with your emotions. What kind of habit makes you tense up and conjure up stress? Which one makes you feel at ease and – even better – happy?
So, habit and commitment now?
Back to what makes taking action such a burdensome feat. We understand now that it takes both feet in the situation of commitment to actually move forward. You can’t do take any kind of influential action if you only have one part of yourself invested in the idea, or whatever it may be. So then, that leads us to habit. Once you become aware of the side-tracking habits and how it impairs your forward-moving process, you can begin to look at your physical routinely habits. Because thought always produces physical outcomes. Change your habitual thoughts and you change your habitual routines which may be stalling you from taking the action you, deep in the meat of your heart, really want to do.
Sound too complicated?
Let’s talk rules
In your daily life, take small actions that would normally seem trivial, but assign positive meaning to it. If normally you’d do something a certain way by habit, consider trying something different. Break out of your box. If normally you’d sit and watch a confrontation and say nothing, consider speaking out – something perhaps unusual for yourself. If normally you’d stay in your hometown for the weekend, consider driving out of town instead. Take action in doing something different – especially if your life feels downtrodden.
Most self-help experts will tell you what I’m telling you. Try something new, do something bold. My approach diverges from this slightly. I’m telling you to put two feet into the commitment of taking action, not just one. I’m telling you to not assail and stomp your fear into the ground like it’s something bad, but to read Susan Jeffers book Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway. I got you there. You don’t have to read the book though. The point is . . .
Merge with your fear, accept that it’s there, and quit treating it as an enemy. It’s not.
I could be broad as hell and preach what every other self-help expert preaches. But it doesn’t help anyone on how to take steps towards resolving the issue. The issue is: you need to take action but you can’t because of situation x, y and z. So what do you do? What does instinct prompt you to do? I hope you’re thinking, to analyze the issue at hand. Which leads me to the next and last rule.
Analyze the resistance. Understand it. Become its friend.
Yes, we are 100% dealing with resistance here. Fear is complete resistance, and the inability to go forward in movement is a product of fear. But guess what? This resistance is not embedded in you forever. If you take the time and patience with yourself to understand what’s holding you back, then there’s an absolute guarantee you’ll find yourself in a better position. From here, taking action with both feet in the vicinity is inevitable. No half-assing can happen because you are now 100% committed to moving forward and through with your intention. Initiate! So that you can move your life out of the slime.
Why am I writing this today?
Oh yes, Alex and I got a two-month old puppy five days and four nights ago. His name is Astro, and he’s a full-sized Australian Shepherd. And for the many months leading up to that day of picking him up from his breeder, I was scared out of my wits. Petrified to the point of relentless anxiety. It felt like having a child. And I am not ready for one, not any time soon. But that didn’t explain why I was feeling waves of panic that only culminated as the days grew closer to Astro’s adoption. I was having anxiety dreams and it was affecting my sleep. So I had to take a look at this closely and magnify what was really distressing me.
And it is: everything that I wrote above. My grave fear of commitment. My half-implemented action of getting the puppy (it was Alex who did all the research and work to reserve our little furry child.) Everything that I did was half-assed. And I desperately felt a deep-seated desire to have another companion in my life and an addition to our family, but the overwhelming fear tends to mute the softer, more truthful feelings. And now, the dealings with my inner trepidations of a changed future packed with unpredictabilities is still a working progress. But I feel far lighter than I was before, too.
So, this article is basically the product of my own thought process, translated into words. My problems and my solutions are something that can be applied to everyone’s life, not just mine. And while this was applied to my own resistance concerning getting a dog, there are much larger issues at play in the scheme of my life as well as yours – in every aspect.