The Trap of Consistency is the Same as the Trap of Perfection
Let’s talk about the conflict and contradiction of all, or nothing.
This is a big one for me, and I am sure I have been president of the all-or-nothing club for many, many years.
It looks like this…
I’ve decided it’s time to give up eating sugar… never ever again will I even allow a morsel of sugar to pass through my lips! And this is good, I manage the first few days, weeks go by, even maybe a month with no sugar. Checking labels, saying no to offers of chocolates and sugary drinks, and then one day it’s a friend’s birthday, or we are away on holiday, or we go out for a meal, and I choose to eat something sweet.
BAM! It’s over, I might as well raid the pantry for all the sugary things I can find, I am clearly useless at this, and I have RUINED all my hard work up until now.
Or have I?
Here’s another scenario… I am going to post every single day on my Facebook, and Instagram, and LinkedIn page something profound and powerful for my audience. I will do this until I am fully booked with clients and physically can’t anymore. And I start with loads of momentum, the first few days seem quite easy as I am pouring with ideas, and then a weekend comes along and ah, I can always start again on Monday, right? Monday comes and goes and before I know it, it has been weeks since I last posted and I feel far too ashamed to come out of hiding because what will they all think of me, knowing that I gave up on myself? Clearly, I am not cut out for this social media thing, and besides I am sure I can inspire people in other ways that don’t require me to post every day. I mean it takes up so much time, and I should be working instead of wasting time on social media anyway.
Or should I?
Or what about this one… I haven’t spoken to a really good friend of mine in what I initially thought was a few weeks, maybe a month at most, and then I realise it’s been almost a year! I pick up the phone to call, but I feel so guilty that I never called or messaged to wish them happy birthday… honestly, I forgot. Yes, I am clearly a horrendous friend, and I am pretty sure they are so angry at me since I haven’t heard from them either. I may as well not bother, and if I ever had to bump into them, I might just pretend like I never saw them.
Or did I?
We do this, with everything! We convince ourselves that if we aren’t perfect, we may as well not try at all.
We do this in different ways as well, and we are quite brilliant at building a case for why we should give up, forget about it, leave the whole thing, because we didn’t stick to what we had planned 100%. We let ourselves down, and there is definitely no reconciliation for that.
We believe that consistency requires effort, ruthlessly done daily.
We believe that until we have fixed everything wrong with us, we can’t possibly have what we want.
We believe that balance requires equal amounts of time and importance allotted to everything in our lives.
And then, if we cannot maintain these standards, well we might as well just give up. Succumb to the fact that we clearly have no willpower, we are ultimately broken and don’t deserve what we want, and balance is just for other, perfect people.
Wow, putting this down on paper feels uber tyrannical don’t you think?
Where’s the grace?
Where’s the compassion?
Where’s the ease?
Where’s the freedom?
Where’s the love?
We all want all these things for ourselves, right? And for most of us, we are SO good at giving all the grace, and compassion, and ease, and freedom, and love to everyone else but ourselves. And then in some weird way we wonder why life is so hard, why the world is so cruel, why we are perpetually stuck in the go-between and contradiction of all-or-nothing.
Charity begins at home, and your first home is within yourself.
During my studies to qualify as a certified RTT® (Rapid Transformational Therapy®) Practitioner and hypnotherapist, we learned about the rules of the mind. One of the most profound rules that I learned, that truly encapsulates all the frustration and stuck-ness that so many of us feel is “The mind cannot hold conflicting beliefs.”
This plays out when we want to quit sugar because consciously, we know that sugar is addictive, cancer-causing, and basically poison, however unconsciously our mind believes that sugar is soothing, and reminds us of a childhood when life was so much easier.
This happens when consciously we know that putting ourselves out there, serving our community and marketing oneself is a sheer way to build a company, but unconsciously we believe that if we speak out and potentially say something that might push someone’s buttons, we have hurt another person and in turn, we are a bad person.
This also, plays a role when we know consciously that connecting with a friend is a great stress relief, and something we actually enjoy. We understand that as adult, life is busy and requires a lot of time commitments and obligations, but unconsciously our mind remembers that we made a pact in primary school to be best friends forever and we’ve now not upheld our side of the bargain.
These scenarios play out in our lives on the daily, in a myriad of different ways, and we maintain status quo because, like I purposefully wrote, unconsciously, we are totally unaware of the inner conflict. You may also notice that a lot of the conflicting beliefs are grounded in childhood thinking, and this is exactly why we sometimes feel so helpless as adults. We are allowing our childish thoughts, and feelings, and fears to govern our lives.
And that is ok… A lot of this stuck-ness and frustration, and fear is unbeknownst to us. It is ok to be gentle with ourselves on this, and also, we must allow ourselves to become conscious of the conflicts.
It wasn’t until this past week, that I had strung myself up in the belief that until I have completely removed all the conflicting beliefs and felt totally indifferent to these once emotionally charged feelings, that I could not pursue, for myself, the beliefs, and feelings, and actions that I would prefer to run my life by.
I believed that I cannot knowingly know the dangers of sugar and still eat some from time-to-time, at the same time. Or deeply desire to serve my online community with inspiring and impactful posts while also feeling incredibly vulnerable and fearful of their response. Or want to still maintain friendships but also want to change the expectations of these… I believed that if I couldn’t reconcile these conflicts, by eliminating one, then I was a fraud and may as well not even bother.
For years I’ve been obsessing with removing limiting beliefs instead of simply choosing the preferred beliefs while the limiting ones still exist.
Now where’s the grace, the compassion, the ease, the freedom, the love for myself in that?
On a neurological level this is exactly what happens in the brain… we have neural pathways that fire synapses relative to a belief or behavior… this belief or behavior may no longer serve us however it’s familiar and because of familiarity, it feels safe. Because of its familiar safety our brain easily wires and fires in favour of these beliefs and behaviours – think habits, even bad habits. Then, let’s say one day we decide that these habits no longer serve us and we want to choose a new belief or behavior. In this moment a new neural pathway is formed. This new neural pathway is not in replacement of the old one but is now another option for the brain to choose over the other. This is where conscious effort, and a little magic from hypnotherapy comes in. In the moments when we are faced with the option to choose (especially just as we are staring this process), it is now about deciding what we stand for and then (for some time) consciously choose the new, preferred option otherwise the brain will simply fire the other synapses because that one is well-known and familiar. Each time we choose the new, preferred thought, belief, or behavior, we are strengthening these synapses (creating new habits), which now become familiar, and effectively safe for the brain to automatically choose.
What if, I can have these conflicting beliefs, know that while I am scared, I can still choose to step forward, while I want to sooth my inner child with food, I can still choose to be healthy most of the time, and while I want to uphold my promises I can still choose to change my commitments and expectations.
What if, in some radical change of perspective, I can hold both these perspectives and still maintain progression in my life, still have what I desire, and still maintain harmony as things ebb and flow.
We are human after all.
Instead of the obsession about irradicating thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and actions before we can think, believe, feel, and do better, how about we simply exercise our personal power and our freedom to choose and decide to think, believe, feel, and do what will get us to where we want to be.
And yes, of course, we will lapse, because those neural pathways do still exist and they are safe and familiar, and what really counts is the times we choose to think, and feel, and act in favour of what we want.
Remember an election is won by majority in favour, not all in favour. So, what this means is that so long as you are voting in favour of what you want the majority of the time, you will achieve what you want.
We face these internal conflicts on a daily basis, and we are also given the phenomenal gift of free will and the ability to choose.
Choose what you stand for.
Choose what you want.
Choose what’s good for you.
Choose for yourself.
Choose for your loved ones.
Choose for your company.
Choose for the world.
Choose, most of the time in your favour.
PS: If you are battling to gain clarity on unconscious conflicting beliefs, which is making it really difficult for you to consciously choose, I can help you with that. Reach out to me.