The reasons we give for waiting for “the right time” can be utterly convincing. That’s why overcoming the habit of waiting is not a matter of talking your reasons down. For example, say you’ve had the intention to begin meditating each day, but keep feeling that you just do not have the time. You are not going to overcome this by telling yourself, “Yes, I do have the time. I am not really that busy.” Rather, what will change is the value you place on the meditation.
The fact is, our deepest values determine how we spend our time. Each second of it. I always think of how I act when I’m about to cross a street: every single time, I make sure to see that there is no danger before I move. No matter what mood I’m in, no matter how tired, no matter what is going on in my life, I make sure to go through this ritual EVERY time I cross a street. The reason I think of this is that it shows me that I am capable of consistently acting according to my deepest values. In this case, the value is safety.
When it comes to physical survival, yes, there is a built-in, instinctual response. But a 2-year-old still might not look before crossing a street – it’s a learned belief. If someone convinced us that the cars in front of us were holograms, we would be able to move our bodies right in front of the “traffic” despite our conditioning. So while our bodies do have physical responses to danger, our minds are ultimately in control. We are in charge of what we define as reality and how we react to it. We are in charge of uncovering our deepest beliefs and values, understanding who and what installed them inside us, and which to let go, which to support.
What are you valuing when you don’t stick to a commitment?
In myself, I’ve noticed this type of response: “I don’t HAVE to do anything.” “I don’t have to do something just because it’s supposed to be good for me.” “I don’t want to.” “I don’t feel like it.” “It doesn’t prove anything if I don’t keep up with it.”
These responses seem quite defensive.. And they also don’t seem to be in my best interest. They seem to be in a child’s voice, a child who doesn’t want to be told what to do. I certainly had a lifetime’s worth of doing what I was told, doing what was “good for me” all of my growing-up years. It makes sense that I wouldn’t want to be told one more thing. However, the difference now is that I am trying to guide myself. Now, if I were to stick to a commitment such as meditating daily, the message would be: “I do this practice as a way of loving myself, and being my self,” not “I do this practice because I HAVE to, because I’m bad if I don’t.”
As soon as I lose touch with the idea that I am trying to create a healthy way of being for myself, my default belief of “I am being forced to do something” takes over and I rebel.
This is just one example of old beliefs and values that sabotage present progress. If you find yourself setting an intention, and coming up with reason after reason to put it off, try to do some exploration into what you are valuing at the time. What are you believing is truly more important than being yourself? You can’t check your email enough times to eventually feel joy, and you can’t even spend so much time on your family that you make them happy. What you can do is get closer and closer with yourself, which naturally leads to more peace and more fulfilled human potential. This will take care of everything else.
Translate your deepest values into how you spend your time. Whether or not you eat with kindness is equivalent to whether or not you would get yourself to a hospital if you were wounded, in that how you handle both situations is an indication of how much you value yourself. There’s no such division between “everyday life” and “crucial moments.” You’re in control of your actions, and every single action, even how you are holding your body right now, how you are breathing right now, how much attention you are paying to what you are reading right now, each of these reflects the sum of all of your beliefs and values.
Show the world what you’re really made of.