I don’t feel like it.
Upon rising from my alarm, it was the first thing that popped into my head yesterday morning. I didn’t want to go for a run like I had planned. I didn’t want to go to my doctor appointment. I didn’t want to leave my home. Why?
I don’t feel like it.
I was not depressed, sad, or sick. I was in full on toddler mode. If it was more socially acceptable, I probably would have done that whole cross-your-arms-stomp-your-feet harrumph thing as well. It reminded me of a story of my youth that my Mom frequently reminds me of (because she thinks it is sooo funny/adorable).
My small town’s high school marching band had this feature majorette who performed every Friday night football game. I don’t know if it was the sequins and fringe, the impressive amount of twirling that could be done without getting dizzy, or the constant applause of the crowd, but I wanted to be one. I found lessons to be fun at first until we got to the point of actually practicing tosses. I was not good at it. I actually was very afraid of the baton. My practice tosses were more like a toss and dash. The baton would leave my hands, and I would immediately run out from under it to avoid being hit. My young mind was slowly understanding that this majorette thing wasn’t just about receiving accolades and wearing pretty outfits. It was work. I was going to have to throw this baton so much that I didn’t care if it hit me in the face. I needed to toss it enough that catching it was second nature.
When my mother asked about my reason for quitting, I cried, “The teacher says, ‘do it! do it!’ and I don’t wanna do it!” If I had the emotional awareness, maybe I could have told her I was afraid. Maybe I could have said, “I want the uniform and the applause, but not the practice.” All that could come out of me was, “I don’t wanna!”
Although I am officially an adult according to my birth certificate, I still occasionally come down with a bad case of the “I-don’t-feel-like-it”s. It rears its ugly head especially when I need to do something uncomfortable, trying something new, or feeling afraid. If you suffer from crippling toddler-like demotivation, remember this:
People do what they want. You may be thinking, “But I do want to be someone who gets up at 5:00am to go to yoga.” Yet, here you are at 7:00pm sitting on the couch watching Netflix wondering where the time has gone. It’s very probable that you are doing exactly what you want. It isn’t a failure of will. It doesn’t mean you are a weak person. You are just a person who is doing what they want. Examine possible motivations for your current behavior. Frequently choosing to watch television over going for a walk, doesn’t necessarily mean you like TV a lot. It can mean that feeling comfortable is more important to you than being uncomfortable and physically fit. Rather than saying, “I’d like to go for a walk, but I can’t commit,” it’s more empowering to say to yourself, “I’d like to go for a walk, but I’m choosing to do something that makes me comfortable instead.” It’s more empowering because it’s the truth, and if hearing yourself say it begins to feel loathsome, then you are ready for a priority change.
Pay attention to your own priorities, and make adjustments. If you sit down and list the reasons why you do things you do you can gain some pretty insightful information regarding what motivates you. If you want to have a yoga practice, but find yourself day after day NOT practicing yoga, write down the reasons you want to go. Now, write why you don’t go. Try to stay away from harsh judgments like, “I’m lazy.” You may find that you want yoga for the stress relief, but avoid going to morning class because you don’t get enough sleep. Right now, getting adequate sleep is a bigger priority than stress relief. It isn’t right or wrong; it’s just your starting point. You can try going to bed earlier or going to class at a later time. Rather than constantly beating yourself up for not being able to make that early morning class, you can choose an action that will align your goal (going to yoga class) to your priorities (getting sleep). When our goals align with our priorities, we can then make change. After a period of time, you may like yoga so much that you are willing to get up at 5:00 am because it’s a more important priority.
Question your thoughts. “I don’t feel like it,” is a pretty vague claim. The minute it appears into your mind, you accept it. “Oh, I don’t feel like going to class?” Okay.” *hit snooze button* Zzzzzz I’ve been tangoing with this particular demon of mine for so long when I’m getting dressed for class and I hear my brain say, “I don’t want to go.” I laugh and go anyway. I actually do want to go, and just because the “don’t wanna” thought pops into my head that doesn’t mean it’s true. I like the mental benefits of practice. When I really sit and get specific about what is behind “I don’t feel like it,” it’s usually code for: I don’t want to be seen in public. You only have one clean tank top, and it’s too tight. I’m depressed, and I might show emotion in public (aka be vulnerable)
For me, “I don’t feel like it,” is code for, “I am afraid.” If building better habits has always been a challenge for you, it’s likely due to fear of something (Being vulnerable, embarrassing yourself, social rejection, feeling incompetent or uncomfortable). Change in of itself–even the kind of change we choose–can be a trigger for stress. It brings up all those parts of ourselves we don’t like to see: the part that can hit the snooze button for 2 hours, the part that wants to cross her arms and stomp off to her room, the parts that just don’t wanna. Making lasting behavior change REQUIRES us to take a look at our inner toddler and everything we fear the most. With practice and curiosity, you can decode your “I-don’t-feel-like-its” so that you can do anything you set your mind to.