We’ve all been there - tired, don’t have the energy to work out after a long day of meetings.
Or your boss charges you with yet another presentation that terrifies you just thinking about it. And of course one of my all time personal favorites when I was single – attending a party alone. Oh the joy! In the past when faced with tasks I didn’t want to do I could feel every cell in my body constrict and my rebel voice inside shout, “but I don’t want to.”
So how can we talk ourselves into doing something we don’t want to?
To begin it helps to understand that resistance is natural and a part of being human. So don’t take it personally. It is what it is. You don’t have to own it as your personal flaw that only exists in your universe. It’s really part of our primitive wiring to move away from what the brain is interpreting to be unpleasant and move toward situations that are pleasing.
Here are a few mindful approaches when you have to do something you don’t want to do:
1. Bring some curiosity to the resistance. Can you recognize that you are even in a situation of resistance, or do you just blow through it, deny it or even cut yourself off from it by overeating, escaping on the internet, procrastinating, shopping? Just notice what is going on for you.
2. Ask yourself what does resistance feel like in this particular situation? What sensations are present? Tension in the neck, tightness in the stomach, sweat in the palms?…. There is no right or wrong to what you feel in the body.
3. Take a moment to acknowledge the emotion you are experiencing as well. By acknowledging yourself, you create some space between you and what you don’t want to do. This acknowledgement helps to stop the spiraling of negative self talk.
4. Try some self-compassion. It’s quite typical to criticize what we’re not doing. However as Kristin Neff, author of Self-Compassion, shows in her research that criticism makes us feel more anxious, more depressed and more afraid of failure. From my personal experience and working with coaching clients, compassion is the gentler route and tends to motivates me to move forward.
But I don’t want to self talk:
· “I’m too tired to workout, skipping today won’t make a difference.”
· “I’m a horrible presenter, I hate speaking to a group of strangers.”
· “I’m so sick of going to parties alone, I never meet anyone anyway.”
Empowering self talk:
· “Even when I’m tired my workouts always energize me and I feel stronger.”
· “I am an engaging presenter and it’s a new opportunity to share my knowledge with interested colleagues.”
· “I am intelligent, engaging and funny and I’m curious to see who is at this party.”
Instead of trying to overcome the resistance, what might happen if you walk along side of it? By taking time to explore and investigate what you don’t want to do, a vast world of resilience and endless opportunities to grow can be revealed. So what is the first thing you can say to yourself the next time you don’t want to do something?