I can’t believe I did that!?
How many times have we said this to ourselves? We have been changing our way of being for months or years, and then – BOOM – out of nowhere an ugly habit rears its head. We look back and say to ourselves, “I thought I was over this”. “I can’t believe I did that again”. “I must be slipping, or even worse—all of the change I’ve made isn’t real now and here is the evidence that I’m not okay”. This is not true.
We are OK. It makes sense that we slip back into difficult behaviors. This is how we humans work. Our old patterns don’t magically disappear (although we’d like them to most of the time). They slowly get overtaken by new ones. Even in the the famed Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, there is reference to the need to practice for a long time before it really takes a hold. We need to step back and take a longer view to actually see what is going on for us.
So what are the real signs of progress? It isn’t whether or not we binged last night. It is what we do after that counts. It is all about resetting ourselves and finding our practice again. Doing this takes effort as well as acceptance. The downward mental spiral where we judge our difficult behaviors is not useful. We accept where we are and then we use appropriate effort to practice, make sure to eat breakfast, go to bed on time, etc…
As we progress on our path, we see that our troubling behaviors lessen. Maybe last year we binged 3 times a week and this year we find ourselves binging once a week. Or maybe we fall out of our practice for a week before we reset but there have been times in our life that it was 6 months before we caught ourselves.
The more we accept where we are—celebrate our successes (no matter how small they seem) and accept the more difficult aspects of ourselves—the easier it will be to find our way toward living peace.
May we all accept what is, so that we may live fully today.