One of the traps that I see so many of us fall into in our health journeys is getting stuck in the orientation of…
“I need to stick to ______ in order to be healthy.”
“If only I ______, then I’d be healthy.”
You might try filling in the blank for each of those sentences right now and see what emerges for you. Grab a pen (or your keyboard) and start writing in a stream of consciousness style. Don’t edit yourself. Simply see what is there in your consciousness and let yourself be surprised.
Some common responses I’ve seen in asking these questions during workshops is: “I need to go to the gym five times a week.” “I need to stop eating ice cream.” “I need to lose 40 pounds.” “I need to go to bed by 10pm.”
Obviously we all have our own versions of these statements. When you look at yours, how do they feel to you? Are you living up to those expectations? Because that’s what these are. These are ways in which we weigh and judge ourselves to be doing it right or wrong. And these statements are more often than not declared in an absolute, black and white sort of way.
And yet here’s the thing… You aren’t black and white. You are complex and nuanced. And you are constantly changing, growing, and evolving. Nothing is ever static in your life. You grow. You age. The contexts in your life continue to change – your jobs, relationships, homes, and passions.
Think back to 15 years ago. Who were you then? What was different about your life, preferences, and priorities? I imagine a lot!
Your orientation to self-care needs to be able to evolve and move with you otherwise you are setting yourself up for a neverending cycle of failure, self-judgment, and shame.
There is nothing linear or static in a vital life.
All you need to do is look out in nature and that is glaringly obvious. Life is always dynamic and evolving.
Just as a gardener tries things out that she thinks will best support the plants she is tending – more water, some pruning, a good dose of compost – monitoring them carefully to see how they are responding… so, too, can you learn to garden yourself in the same way!
An Experimental Journey
If the gardener doesn’t see the plants thriving in their growth, then she’ll try a different strategy. She knows that when you are tending life, there is no prescription that works every time.
The environment is always changing – weather patterns, the mineral content in the soil, the health of the fungi and bacteria around the roots that add vital nutrients and influence the way the earth drains or holds water. Add to that the diversity of the seeds and the uniqueness of how each individual plant responds, and you can easily see that gardening is far from an exact science.
You, too, are unique, dynamic, and in a constantly changing ecosystem of your own life circumstances, relationships, and priorities. By embracing an orientation of experimention you are able to honor and celebrate your evolution. You are able to easefully adapt, and be flexible. You are able to dance with your health and self-care, creatively and playfully.
The freedom you experience is a huge part of the healing!
An experiment is trying something out without being sure of what the outcome will be. There’s an orientation of learning and curiosity to see what happens. There are no failures. You are simply giving a strategy a try and seeing what happens.
When you relax into framing your choices and intentions as experiments, rather than a habitual “should” you get to be a conscious curious explorer of yourself, heeding the feedback you receive.
You are released from the cage of needing to get it right, or that you made the wrong choice. All of the feedback you receive is simply data to guide you in designing your next experiment. Nothing ever stops. You stay in movement, aligning more fully with the wisdom of your life energy.
Conscious experimentation can be like a game – light, fun, playful. Your health journey can be freed from the confines of rigid rules, and instead can be a path of joy.
Your Vitality Experiment:
So let’s explore what this all might look like in your life…
- Choose something in your health journey that you’ve been wanting to do differently or something you’ve been leaning into that you know might really augment your sense of juicy aliveness.
- Create a 2 week experiment. 2 weeks is long enough to get solid feedback, but it’s short enough that it doesn’t feel overwhelming. It’s just 2 weeks.
- Commit to that time.
- Make your experiment realistic and doable in the contexts of your current life. And see what happens.
- At the end of 2 weeks, assess it. What felt good? What didn’t? What worked for you? What was hard?
- And then you can make some tweaks or scrap it completely and create your next 2 week experiment.