In the end, all of us will look back on our lives and say one of two things, “I wish I had,” or, “I’m glad I did.” -Writers of SEX/LIFE
I don't know about you, but I gobbled up that latest season of SEX/LIFE, and, as we've talked about before with respect to the benefits of TV, there was a lot to take from the experience. Not only entertainment, which is enough, but also tons of opportunities for deep reflection.
Like many of you, when I heard that line above, I thought Yes, absolutely, but then simultaneously, Oof, I hope I'm doing all I can to ensure the latter.
Because I've been prioritizing living in alignment with my values and core beliefs for 7 solid years, I was happy to find that I truly relate more to the "I'm glad I did" sentiment, vs. "I wish I had."
...not that every day is perfectly aligned at all, but, you know, on the whole, this is where I'm at.
So, then I was thinking about the alternative. About the living in the "I wish I had." And when I think back to my life prior to 2016, I know I was living more so in that place. The question is, Why?
Why did I, or really why does anyone, choose to live from a place of misalignment, a place that, if caught in for the entirety of life, would lead you to your deathbed uttering, "I wish I had"?
It's heartbreaking, but not hard to grasp.
Simply put, dissatisfaction with life stems from fear.
Fear of addressing what we already know to be true. Or, fear of looking under the hood to discover what’s true.
Both flavours of fear keep us stuck, carrying on with what we’ve been doing day after day, even when this MO isn’t bringing us what we ultimately want. Cue the dissatisfaction.
We do this because it feels, and in many ways is, easier to accept the status quo than challenge it.
In the short term.
But none of us want to live for short term benefits. This is living in protection mode. Ultimately, we want to live rich, fulfilling lives that are reflections of our deepest values. We want to look back on our lives when we’re on our deathbeds and be proud of the choices we've made, the people we've become.
To lean into what we truly we want, we have to accept it’ll mean making change, which will be challenging—at first. The good news is, this challenging bit is not only temporary, but it is actually helpful when it comes to creating change.
The stress that comes with stepping outside our comfort zones and doing new things creates alertness and focus, which are needed to induce neuroplasticity, a state of the brain and nervous system that facilitates change.
To access this state of neuroplasticity, 3 chemicals must be present.
- Epinephrine, which helps with alertness
- Acetylcholine, which helps with focus
- Dopamine, which helps stimulating motivation and a sense of reward
This cocktail of chemicals highlights the neural circuits that need to change, increasing the probability of long-term change.
(More on dopamine later.)
After we induce stress in our bodies, we will find that we are tired. The good news here: Sleep and deep relaxation are also a crucial part of the neural rewiring process. It’s in these restful states that the reconfiguration of our neural circuits actually happens.
You can think of this like exercise. You have to get out of your comfort zone and go put in effort at the mental gym. And then you need to rest and recover afterward—this is when your mental muscles actually get a chance to build.
Some rest practices I love are Yoga Nidra, Reiki, regular meditation, and breathwork (this Slow Breathing exercise I found on YouTube is SO powerful).
If you want to speed up the whole neural rewiring process, this is where dopamine comes in. Dopamine is key for motivation. To spark dopamine, lean on social interaction and celebrating small wins, which can easily be done together—i.e. when you celebrate holding up a boundary with a co-worker by sharing the moment with a friend.
So, my loves, this is it. This is how you use your own brain, your own nervous system, your own dreams and desires to create change.
In sum, you...
- Accept that it'll be challenging at first.
- Lean into that challenge by noting 1) it's preferable to prioritize who you want to be over the comfort of right now, and 2) its usefulness in accessing a state of neuroplasticity.
- Do the out of the comfort zone thing that propels you toward the person you want to be. If you feel called to, reach out to Spirit/God/your angels for support.
- Fête the fact that you did all that!
- And then repeat. Over time, it'll get easier as you build up that neural pathway.
Continue to acknowledge what else you want to do in order to be more of the person you want to be, and then move through the process over again.
There's no rush though. Please know that. This is life. So, take it easy; take it slow. Seek the joy in challenging yourself, as well as in resting and fêting afterward.