Have you ever wanted gotten to the point where you are so fed up of something in your life and ready for a drastic change? The need to cut things out to make room for good overcomes you! You feel selfish, so you will volunteer more! You feel fat, so you will cut out sugar completely! You feel lazy, so you will eliminate TV and only be outside with nature or read a book. Yet, usually after three or four days, your resolve is weakened. Those bad things you cut out have not made room for good things at all. In fact, shame has taken root and you are worse than when you started, feeling defeated and without hope.
There is a myth that we have to cut out “bad” things in order to make room for “good”. The need for drastic life changes & a label to identify with causes all sorts of “cold turkey” commitments, and we wonder why those commitments fail? Our need to identify with a group and become a activist, a vegan, a cross-fitter, or something of the like causes these immediate changes that unfortunately usually end in failure. Now, please do not hear me advocating not making a change - change is beautiful and important and transformational, and for some people, abrupt life changes are the exact thing they need to jumpstart a new season of their life. I am not saying to never try new things or never adopt a new lifestyles, rather I am suggesting a slow process of welcoming.
Oftentimes, we focus on what we are taking away rather than what we are adding. We eliminate sugar, but we forgot to add in good, nutritious foods that bring life. We are not going to watch TV anymore, but we forget to add in habits that are relaxing and life-giving. We eliminate partying, but we do not add in volunteer work or new community. I know there is a better way.
Instead of eliminating bad habits suddenly and without grace, start by adding good things in, slowly and steadily. Want to change the way you eat? Don’t say no to sugar forever, but start adding whole, nutritious foods to your diet. Want to cut back on TV? Don’t say you are never going to watch your favorite show again, but add in other activities that bring more life to your soul - journaling, reading classic books, drawing, painting, gardening, or cycling. Want to quiet your excessive party habits? Don’t say you will never attend another raging party, but introduce yourself to a new community. Welcome in new friends with different priorities. Maybe start volunteering at the local pet shelter.
Slowly, you may find that your body changes and enjoys the whole foods more than soda. You may find that your journaling leads to writing a blog which leads to your first book. You might find that your new group of friends introduces you to the love of your life. And over time, those unhealthy habits you were trying to eliminate fade away.
Resolve is never built around elimination. Elimination is not something you can get excited about, but addition is absolutely a reason to rejoice. Newness involves not what you can give up, but what you can add in. And slowly you might find that those things you thought you could never give up have taken a backseat to the new things you have welcomed.
Start saying yes. Begin new. Be slowly transformed. Experience lasting change. Welcome good.