Although it is usually dangerous to generalise, I believe that most of us tend to run away from the important things in our lives – particularly challenging issues. I like to call them ‘elephants in the room.’ We either know about them and ignore them, or we live in denial. We may have tried to address these issues in the past, failed, and they have grown bigger. Unless we give our full attention to them, they continue to grow and sap our energy.
What makes things worse is that we usually have more than one elephant in the room. Identifying one particular problem and temporarily ignoring the others is probably the easiest way to address them, for it allows us to focus our attention. It does not matter which issue we pick as the process is what is most valuable and we can turn our attention to the others with renewed confidence once we have been successful at tackling one.
Let us take the example of not doing enough physical exercises. The longer we have avoided the issue, the harder it is to start to do something about it. We may feel sluggish and continuously find excuses for not doing it. The suggestion here is to face the fact of our present situation without judging it. It is important to understand it but quickly we need to make a small step to start addressing it. In fact, it is vital to act; for the action comes from the facing.
It might feel a little scary because it goes against what we have been doing all along – which was to avoid it, and to imagine that it was huge. When we face it, very often the problem stops being an elephant. It may still appear big, but as soon as we start doing something about it, it feels different. Taking the lack of exercise as an example, we must commit to something very manageable to start with; it could be going for a ten minutes walk and sticking to a gradually increasing programme for the next four weeks. Even though it may seem small – we have to understand that we are facing the issue and moving in the right direction.
This gentle approach is currently working very well for me. In the last nine months, I have managed to introduce some positive changes that I had been struggling with for years. I now feel more confident to face those elephants and to shrink them.
Most of us escape from our core problems. The bigger the issue, the more we turn away from them. However, they stay with us and weigh us down. It is possible to turn things around by facing the fact that we were avoiding them and importantly, move slowly but decidedly towards them. They will reduce in size and may even disappear.
One sentence journal – day 15:
“Got up at quarter-to-five this morning, keen to embrace my ever changing yoga practice, my five projects, and a fairly long wish list – knowing that it may be too much, and that lack of sleep may discolour it all. ”
This blog is part of a renewed 42-day writing challenge inspired by Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits Book.
Photo: Alexandre Chambon