Have you ever tried out a new routine or new program to improve yourself in some way and found success, but then something inside you nagged and pleaded for you to let it go for even just a moment? I have noticed this trend in myself and catch myself wondering if this is what normal people feel, since I never really trust my own normalcy.
I observe a lot. Not only am I a natural observer, but then I went to graduate school where I was taught precisely how to be an objective observer. Taking judgement out of the equation can be difficult – we’re human, we judge. However, it is a very beneficial vantage point to be able to walk into a situation and just report on what you see. This means leaving out things like “he was trying to annoy her”. Well sure, you probably know what that looks like. You could likely conjure up an image in your mind about that behavior. Yet, the picture in your head and the picture in my head are probably different in seemingly insignificant ways, but those small details actually matter when studying behavior and what the behavior is communicating. Now you know why I question if what I have observed about myself is the same as what you have observed about yourself. 😉
Life is good
Back to my initial question. You’re totally in love with a new regimen that seems to meet all your needs. You move through your day knowing what to expect because you have a routine. You have prepared your meals ahead of time, so you know what you’ll be eating and that food aligns with what nutrition intake your body requires to be healthy and operate at it’s highest level. You have a well-designed work area that is also well organized. You have engaging conversations with your loved ones and with your colleagues because you are confident and manage your emotions even when disagreeing with others. You walk down the street with no rain clouds above you, only sunshine, no wind, and 72-degree temperature. Life is good.
The stray of curiosity
Yet as you walk down this tree lined street with fresh air filling your lungs and thoughts of adorable puppies kissing your toes and making you squeal, you think – “I would really like to stray – find some adversity – nurse a hangover – eat a huge bowl of ice cream and not think twice about it – walk down a different street with less predictability.” Now that I’ve given you a snippet of internal dialogue, do you hear me? Does this ever sound like you? Is this internal voice the proverbial devil on your shoulder? Is the comfort, predictability, and feeling good – the angel on the other shoulder? Maybe. But I have a different theory.
I think deep down, no matter your personality, your tolerance for surprises, or whether you are introverted or extroverted – we are all curious creatures. If we had no curiosity running through our blood, how would we have evolved into the brilliant human beings that we are today? Look around you. Would I be able to type on this computer, flip a light switch to light up a dark room, drive a car, fly in the sky or take a shower (by simply turning a knob and water magically appearing), if some human being out there wasn’t curious? Somewhere on the brilliance spectrum is where you stand. Come on – own it. There is room for you. It is your birthright to be as colorful as you are and find your place, held just for you, on this beautiful spectrum. We don’t need another person to invent the light bulb or post-it notes, but there is something you are curious about that will serve another human being. I think this is why we receive these urges to relax a bit, not toe the line so much, and maybe indulge ourselves in ways that we don’t typically allow.
Oh no – don’t you dare!
As I write this I hear the devil’s advocate laughing and deliciously saying, “ah, so you condone infidelity, addictions, diet sabotaging, and theft?” Stop right there devil’s advocate and every other reader outside that ugly devil on my shoulder that has just thought that!! NO, No, NO! That is not what I’m saying and it doesn’t have to be that way. I think those behaviors are symptoms of the same path just extremely negative instead of positive. I just don’t think we can be “on” all the time. We have to be able to recognize when we need a break from being “on” and be okay with it. I don’t want any of us to beat ourselves up with a litany of negative self-remarks because you decided to have a glass of wine with dinner just because. Sure, it’s a Tuesday night and not Friday – does it matter? Who set that rule? Again, I’m not saying drink the whole bottle and then engage in a behavior you will later regret. Holy Shit NO. Then you’d be living in a place of regret, remorse, and shame and nobody wants to find themselves in that pile of woes. Steer clear.
The main road will remain
When you have found something that works for you, great! Awesome! I had complete faith that you’d find how to best treat yourself and meet all your needs so that you’d be the most joyful and productive human you could be. However, just know that if you ever find yourself thinking – “maybe today, I skip the gym and meet a friend for a drink or skip out on that social obligation to spend some time alone watching a show I’d like to see” doesn’t mean you are a bad person and that by following that curiosity off the path for a night or a day does not mean you can’t get back on again dare I say with even more resolve to stay the course?! Think of these choices like those spots on a highway that denote “scenic view” and you pull over, get out of your car, stretch and then ponder the scene. Before you is a view you were only able to take in because you veered off the main road for a bit. The main road doesn’t go anywhere, it’s waiting for you when you’re ready to get back in the car and continue on. Maybe, just maybe, with a sly smile on your face ready to go the distance.