What if it comes down to survival? What the heck? Survival? Yes Virginia, the reason something like 50 percent of the people in this country make a new years resolution and only 8 percent keep it may come down to survival. Or wanting to survive, I know that makes no sense. Say your resolution is to quit smoking, or loose weight, things that are very popular New Years Resolutions, and in the long run would probably extend your life. If you were a one dimensional stick figure, perhaps, this would be the case. The truth is we have so many dimensions that our motivations for doing what we do could (and probably do) take up an entire university full of study, most of us of course don’t have time to do this because we have lives, so I’m to going attempt to give you some clarity in the next couple of paragraphs. And hopefully it will be helpful and worth the five minutes or so of your unredeemable lifetime in reading this.
The first thing is, you have think about it like you have two different kinds of nervous systems. One you have control over, like you get an idea in your head to take a walk, or you want a cookie. In either instance you can take a moment and choose how you are going to respond. Are you going to eat the cookie? Are you going to go for that walk or sit down in front of the TV? The other nervous system is automatic, like your heart beat, bowl and liver functions. Problems happens when things that should be a choice become automatic. The TV and the cookie become automatic responses, rather than choices you make because you become habituated a certain way to the world.
How does this happen really? Lots of people will say, lack of willpower etc. but what if there is something more interesting going on? Lets go back ten million years to dawn of time, you see, life doesn’t really have a choice. That place where you can choose to eat the cookie or not, or take a walk or not came way later. What came first was the fight or flight response to the world where, say you are a small reptilian thing minding your own business, eating a salamander or what ever they ate back then, when a much larger reptilian thing comes along behind you and wants to eat you. In order to survive the fight or flight reaction kicks in. The small reptilian thing becomes faster, sharper and automatically starts to find an exit rout before the bigger reptilian thing can get ahold of him, or if cornered he either successfully or not fights to the end. If he escapes successfully, one day he eats more, has sex more, and thus his species lives to see another day and these survival traits go from one generation to another. (Maybe a bit over simplified but you get the idea)
At some point this ability to see something and make a cognitive choice has led to evolutionary possibilities that the little reptile never though possible. The problem is that part of our brain that made it so the little reptile thing could live to survive, still is part of who we are. The Fight or Flight or Stress response happens all the time and dictates our behavior in things that may or may not be life threatening, because that part of your brain doesn’t know the difference between the big reptile thing ten million years ago and the truck turning the corner too fast as you are attempting to cross the street. In either case your instincts take hold, your heart rate goes up you get turned on.
Unlike the reptile thing ten million years ago, who, had he survived, would have just let it all go and gone about his day looking for another salamander or a suitable mate, we often find something else to get stressed about. We live in a world of deadlines, cars, computers, competition, expectations and judgements. all this stuff around us that isn’t really natural to us becomes kind of constant enemy causing constant stress. We sit all day at computers slumped over in positions that aren’t natural to us. After being sedentary for hours, we go and work out for an hour and think that somehow it’s going to make it so the last twelve hours didn’t matter.
It’s no wonder chronic stress is a problem, the reason you are going for that cookie or that cigarette may have nothing to do with will power it’s a way you have adapted to try and heal yourself, an attempt to replenish a depleted nervous system even if it’s with things that will in the long run cause more problems. One of the things that make New Years Resolutions such failures is we tend to start it out with such judgement. Guilt and shame in the long run make really bad motivators, the guilt and judegment actually causes more stress and instigates more fight or flight, thus my point.
The good thing is that the more you know the better things can get and there are ways to learn how to calm your nervous system so that you can make choices. Meditating, laughing, hanging out with friends, telling the truth, dancing, getting in your body and moving. Fight or Flight, the thing that causes the stress response isn’t really the enemy it’s natural, when the cookie is before you and you feel that impulse just just gently ask yourself what you really want and remind yourself that you aren’t going to die and there are other alternatives.
The alternatives are for another blog for now, as you go into the new year having make your resolutions, be kind to yourself. Go for a run or dance and see if you still want that cookie.
I’m going to be talking more about this in my teleconference, please feel free to come
Three Things You Don’t know You Don’t Know About Stress Free Teleconference Call
Tips On How To Keep Those NYE Resolutions
One of the reasons New Years Resolutions are so hard to keep comes down to not addressing the old stuff before you try and add new stuff. In other words, Father time may not be as eager to leave as you thought, and sometimes needs a little coaxing to welcome a baby new year.
How to recognize it when the Fear and Anxiety of changing is greater than the desire to change. How to make a choice about that by turning destructive criticism about your body and how it’s not right into curiosity and self love. (For this there will be a short exercise over the phone!)
How focusing on the end result “Or End-gaining as we call it here at Vital Body” can be the thing that ultimately sabotages your desire for change, we will be looking at scientific proof that this end-gaining pattern (And we all tend to end-gain a lot unless maybe your a Buddhist monk) can actually not just make it so you don’t follow through on your NY resolution, but can actually cause serious bodily injury.
A more effective approach to the new year may be to look at it like an amazing journey rather than fixating on a desired end result.
I’m Sara James at Vital Body, I focus on Stress Management using The Alexander Technique, a method with a 100 year track record of helping people to make physical movement choices that lead to improved coordination and an ability to heal and avoid stress related injuries due to poor posture, chronic habitual tension, not using the right muscles for the right things and not getting enough of the right kind of rest. I work to make you feel and look younger, get fewer injuries and experience more of your best self. I have great programs to help you have less stress and be fitter as well as happier by turning chronic patterns of stress and misusing your body into energy and vitality!! I don’t teach exercise instead I focus on teaching you how to get fitter and healthier just by what you do and love in living your life.
Please call in this Monday January 5th at 1pm
Call in number 1-302-202-1106 access code 765604