We can all benefit from unraveling the process of being new to something a little. A reader left this comment on our post about habits and change:
“The topic of habits has been on my mind a lot lately too. I am trying to form new habits in place of less desirable ones. I have found myself more isolated as I transition out of habits that have not been beneficial to my long-term goals and health. I am not interested in new things like I used to be, and find it sometimes difficult to give new habits a try…but I keep trying. New exercise classes. New social settings. New reading material. I get a little lost in all the new-ness, and I am not sure how genuine I am being with myself about my enjoyment regarding new changes in lifestyle.”
Dear Faking It Until You Make It,
Rest assured you are in good company. Many of us are currently in the everything is the new gauntlet and also searching for clarity. Let’s track some down, shall we?
Change is inevitable. Change is the only constant. Change… is 100 other apt proverbs. Yes, we can embrace change, we steel ourselves for imposed change, and we create change, but none of those things guarantee an easy transition.
Lifestyle changes that you manifest and put into action can be as simple as joining a new gym or as big as moving to a new town. These things require going into an entirely new environment, being vulnerable, standing out, and being at the mercy of stranger’s good will. All of which are uncomfortable even for the most extroverted among us.
What pushes the uncomfortable into the unbearable zone is our inner voice, our self-talk. There are thousands of ways that each of our individual voices came to be. Many of us are housing a repertoire of self-judgments that were instilled in us from very early childhood and then reinforced by our primary caretakers and peer groups over the span of our lives. Hopefully, you’re one of those people residing in a place of self-love that comes—naturally—you can see uncomfortable situations for what they are—temporary, and you don’t get caught in the deluge of stress. But for the rest of us, our inner voice are considerably more pessimistic. Are you going into new social, work, educational, or contextual settings primed with nervousness? At the first signs of your fears being confirmed do you want to bail? Yeah, me too.
J.K. Rowling America’s British literary sweetheart and the now bazillionaire submitted the manuscript for Harry Potter to twelve separate publishers before being selected. Twelve experts in the field read Harry Potter and passed! What! Where Rowling came up with that kind of perseverance, I don’t know. But I do know that we could all use a little more of it. There are millions of stories like this, Edison, Jordan’s basketball career, Jordan’s baseball career. You can add your name to that list even if your accomplishments are markedly smaller than the light bulb; they are still yours, and they are a big deal!
In 2008, Malcolm Gladwell published Outliers making the 10,000-hour rule famous. This holds that it’s not actually luck or genius that makes you great at a skill it is repetition, lots of repetition. There are a few dissenting opinions surrounding this theory like this one stipulating that structure of the domain that you are trying to achieve in predicts success, and others that it actually takes way more than 10,000 hours. But, the non-negotiable point is that you will get better with time and practice at anything that you desire (or are forced by circumstance to take on).http://www.businessinsider.com/new-study-destroys-malcolm-gladwells-10000-rule-2014-7
The key to persistence is two-fold: managing your self-talk and sticking it out.
There are enough people in the world casting judgments on our personal attributes from physical appearance to competency at work: you DO NOT need to join them. There is nothing vain or conceited about having a carefully crafted belief in yourself that you guard with your life. When you believe in you, the others can either jump aboard or miss the train; that’s their business, not yours.
As for sticking it out, try envisioning all of the other times that you started something new. Get really specific about how miserable that it was at first and then step back realizing that new didn’t last long. Now sit with how natural that you became at it, whatever it was. The memory of all of the past times that you persevered is indisputable evidence that you make it over this current hump.
Clinical Director Therapist
Lana Reihani, LPCC, is a Clinical Mental Health Therapist, Clinical Supervisor, and Clinical Director with Sage Neuroscience Center. She is passionate about strengthening evidence-based clinical practices with radical empathy and a touch of humor, delivered with safety, equality, and diversity in mind. In her free time, Lana loves to learn, cook, find the best light for selfies, share amazing memes, and watch trashy reality TV.