We beat ourselves up too much.
We abuse ourselves.
We feel justified in doing this because we committed to something once. We wanted something. We promised something. Then we broke that commitment.
At some point in the past, when we were high on hopes, dreams and emotions, we decided to commit to a course of action, a person or a cause. But the daily grind works us over. The traffic, the rude customers, the ornery children, the bills, the sick cat. We are bombarded with long stretches of negativity and boredom and, in order to simply recover, we unwind by staring at screens, shopping or planning. We abandon projects, we let things slide.
Meanwhile, that thing we committed to starts to die. We know it’s dying and we feel terrible about it. We hate that we can’t just sit down for an hour and get the website launched. We are angry we haven’t visited that short story or painting for months. We are upset that we haven’t spent a sole afternoon with our kids since they started school.
And so we beat ourselves up.
“Why can’t I be consistent?!”
“Why can’t I just do it? It’s not hard!”
“I’m a terrible father.”
“Everyone can see how useless I am!”
We abuse ourselves because we think that if we are punished for lack of performance, we will be more motivated to work. We are trying to inspire ourselves using negative reinforcements.
This tactic doesn’t work. Instead, it immobilizes us, saps our energy and takes away our control.
But I have a different tactic.
What if we simply stop those abusive thoughts? What if we imagine they are flies landing on our heads and we can simply bat them away and recommit?
Ask anyone who has been to AA and they will tell you that their struggle is a day to day affair. There is never a “set it and forget it” commitment scheme for recovering addicts. Even if they haven’t had a drink in years, they still call themselves addicts because they know that they could go back to old habits at any time. So, instead of “finally reaching a point where this isn’t a problem” they simply recommit every single day.
We are wildly optimistic about our abilities. We expect we can press a “go switch” within ourselves that will enable us to work consistently without any troubles. We expect to be something like an assembly line, always churning out product.
When we fail, we abuse ourselves over it.
Getting angry about the past, even five minutes ago, gives us a wonderful excuse not to act now. If we insist that editing the past (so our record remains perfect) is the only thing that will make us right with the universe, and the past is impossible to change, then we can NEVER make things right and are therefore off the hook for any action now.
Stop doing that. It isn’t working. You are only making yourself miserable.
Furthermore, it isn’t helping anyone else. Your play still remains unwritten, your app undesigned.
You need to recommit.
If it has been forever since you have worn your retainer, don’t abuse yourself about it, simply recommit.
If you haven’t gone for a jog in a week and you really feel like you are never going to lose those twenty pounds, just recommit today.
If your spouse has been under pressure lately and has acted beastly and you are not sure if your love will survive this, just recommit.
If you have made more mistakes than Edison and nothing seems to be working and you are sure you will fail, just recommit.
Recommitment doesn’t have to be special. Just say, “I recommit to doing this.” Then, go do it. Even if you just do it for five minutes, you will find that your recommitment ignites forces in the universe that help you progress.
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