This post will give you support in dealing with that shitty period in life where you are on the path to change (yay!), but suddenly everything feels hard and you go back to doing what you used to (ugh :-/).
Change = Resistance
Whenever we engage with any significant change in our lives, we will eventually get to a point (usually a few weeks or months after first making positive changes) where everything feels especially hard. This is a well known phenomena in personal development which is often referred to as 'The Dip.'
It is at this point that the changes you've been making in life feel increasingly hard to sustain. Often, you'll even find yourself doing much worse than when you first started trying to improve!
However, don't start beating yourself up yet. The thing to realise is that this strong resistance is actually a part of the natural process of human change.
You shook things up in your life by making changes. Go you! But now, whatever old habits, thoughts, emotions, beliefs, or relationships you hold that are not serving your new path, will become aggravated – they will feel like they are digging in even deeper.
One way I like to think about The Dip is that it is the desperate 'last gasp' of whatever old ways of being are holding you back from where you want to go.
Another fun point of view on The Dip is that it is your unhealthy ways of being are actively presenting themselves to you, so that you can become more conscious of them, and learn what you really need to learn in order to properly move past them.
Hello, moment of choice
How I like to think about The Dip, is that it is a moment of choice – that is, it is a moment in life that is asking us to make more conscious choices about how we relate to ourselves and to the world.
In particular, there are two choices which I've noticed a lot of people skip over, but which are absolutely essential to moving past The Dip and into your next chapter of life.
Choice #1: Do I choose to support myself or to beat myself up?
We all have periods in life where we struggle, make mistakes, and have a real hard time holding on to what we want to create. And during each of these periods, we each get to choose ...
- Will I slow down and support myself through my difficulties?
- Will I offer myself kindness and compassion because change is chaotic and takes time?
- Will I choose to say NO to the sinuous voice that is telling me I'm not enough, and consistently re-orient my thoughts to what I want to create for myself instead?
- Will I forgive myself when I fail to do this sometimes? Will I forgive myself for making so many mistakes?
- Will I choose to listen to and support myself through my whatever fears, worries and concerns I have, like any good friend would (or will I angrily tell myself to buck up and get over it)?
- Will I use all the resources at my disposal for support? E.g.
- Will I confide in people and vulnerably ask others for help?
- Will I make space for my struggle by actively reducing my responsibilities and obligations?
By choosing to support ourselves in our moments of difficulty, we release ourselves from a lot of pressure – the pressure to be perfect, the pressure to get it right immediately, the pressure to do it all alone. We free ourselves up to change.
Judgement and condemnation, on the other hand – i.e. that little voice saying you should be better than this, or you should have this by now, or you will never change – actively acts to freeze things into place, can most definitely cut us of from the love and support we need to pull us through.
Choice #2: Do I choose to hold onto my higher goals in life, or will I abandon them?
We all start out on the path of change because we believe things can be different in our lives.
During The Dip, however, there is push back from the world around us.
Perhaps our family and friends are giving us flak for trying to be different. Or we get a whole bunch of extra work to do even though we really need time off. Or we get in a real funky mood and start spending too much time on social media again, even though we promised ourselves we wouldn't!
There will be so many situations, big and small, which test your resolve as you work towards a better future.
What I like to believe, however, is every resistance we feel as we reach for our higher goals is just life asking us to really make sure: do you really want to commit this different life for yourself? Like, really, really, really?
The danger comes when we forget that this question is being asked, and fall into a state of unconscious overwhelm and self-judgement. It is from this heavy place that we often make the wrong choice by default: No, I don't want to change, we say. Please just take me back to my old, familiar life where things might have been a bit blah, but at least it didn't feel so uncomfortable and hard!
And from that point on, we feel a sense of loss, even though we aren't fully conscious of what it is that's gone.
In comparison, actively engaging with The Dip as it presents your negativities to you in all their blooming glory, will put you in the perfect position to learn exactly what you need to learn to shift them. While change isn't ever easy, it can actually be really fun if you are willing to reframe the difficulties you face on your path as powerful opportunities for growth, rather than reasons to disconnect from yourself or your dreams.
(Note: if you need support in the process of self-connection or gaining clarity on your higher goals, contact me for a free coaching consultation. Or if you are are struggling to connect with goals you've already set, you might also want to read my post on setting goals that truly serve you).
Whether you are aware of it or not, you'll be making these two choices each day during the process of change. And what I want to encourage with this post is that you start making each choice consciously.
It is empowering to make a conscious decision – whatever that decision might be.
Yup – even if you regularly choose to beat yourself up and abandon your dreams! A brave and open-eyed willingness to remain conscious of that choice will actually provide you with the self-understanding you need to powerfully revisit that choice (and the beliefs and attitudes you hold that are driving it) over time.
When moving through the Dip, therefore, give yourself permission to treat resistance to change as your friend. Let it inform you about what you need to learn – what is asking to be noticed, and what is already ready to be released.
Be compassionate with yourself during this trying time, and provide the space for your world to shake and shift into a new constellation of beliefs, thoughts, emotions and life choices.
While your outside circumstances might seem to be going backwards or standing still, realise that there is deep inner work being done.
Look to the long game. If you are willing to release the habit of judgement and disconnect, and keep your eye instead on where you want to go, then you will soon find yourself expanding into a deeper sense of self, and a life that is more deeply aligned with where you want to be.
With love and commitment,
- Liz Busch