Ending Bad Habits with “Yes, And”

Backing my car into the drive, I sigh. You’d think that after an hour of sitting in my car, I’d be ready to move, but that’s not the case. I’m exhausted. I gather up my feeble energy enough to direct my kid to “make sure you get all of your stuff and take the dogs out.” But I have no motivation to enforce anything I say. 

When I get in the house, I’m ready to just drop my bags, leaving the smoothie containers and lunch boxes to begin fermenting. My mind is filled with visions of the corner of my couch, hot tea and my big puppy’s weighted body leaning against mine. What happened to the routine I carefully crafted, where my son and I do our chores together before we sit down? Meh, screw that, I’m tired. I just step over his shoes in the middle of the hall and pretend I don’t see him drop his backpack on the floor.

Then once I sit down, I pick up my phone and I’m sucked into mindless scrolling. How did I get back here? Hours of doom scrolling and gnawing on my finger nails again? Where did my routine go? It was working so well…

Inner voice, “Just stop. Just put your phone down.”

I put my phone down.

30 seconds later, I pick it back up.

Damn, I can’t recall a time where I’ve been stuck in a rut, repeating an unwanted behavior over and over, and said, “Hey, Dhira, just stop that!” and it worked. 

“I need a new routine.” 

That sounds pretty good. I just need a new routine! The old one isn’t working anymore, so let’s toss it and get a better one! Okay, I’m ready to buy into that and start making plans…

Wait, jumping to the next thing is pretty much the same as saying no to the old thing. Riiiight. Hmmm… is it really the routine that’s getting in the way? Maybe, but throwing the whole thing out before I acknowledge what’s really going on might mean throwing out important information that will inspire what I choose next. 

So if I’m not going to stop throwing my stuff around when I get home and mindlessly scrolling my phone all night, and I’m not going to choose to do something else, what the hell else is there?!

“What if I said, YES, to what I’m doing?”

“Dhira, how are you not already saying YES when you, uh, DO the thing you’re doing?”

Good question. 

There’s a difference between doing something and DOING something. The difference is between doing it unconsciously and doing it consciously. Between dismissing it and OWNING it. Between distracting and FACING. Between resisting and playing with. 

There’s “YES, BUT I don’t know how to shift so I’ll just keep going while telling myself to stop it”.

Here are some of the ways I avoid that full yes…

  • I should just be able to get back into my routine, I was doing it so well before. (Blaming)
  • I’ll take a look at my motivation for acting like this later. (Procrastinating)
  • I deserve this time on my couch. (Justifying)
  • Maybe it’s just because it’s near the end of the school year, I’m just burnt out. (Explaining)
    • Whatever, who cares? (Dismissing)

and then there’s “YES, AND I notice, I think, I feel, I act like…when I do this thing.”

Does that mean I never simply make a new choice? No, but when I do something or experience something three or more times, that’s a sign for me that there’s something that wants my full and playful YES before moving on. 

Next time I feel the pull to plop on the couch and doom scroll, I instead decide to say “yes, and” to what I’m noticing. I set a 2 minute timer and notice that I’m yawning my face off, like I can’t open my mouth wide enough to take in enough air. I accept my body’s offer that I’m tired, I accept the voice in my head that says, “I don’t wanna do anything, I just wanna curl up and sleep.” As I let myself continue to express with sound and movement, my actions start to remind me of a baby bird – alternating between screeching for food and then napping. That’s all I want to do! 

I let the feelings, thoughts and movements roll through me like storm clouds and then the sky within me starts to clear. I AM tired, but more than that, my senses are overloaded and I want to de-stimulate. So I put on my softest robe, I call my soft puppy dog over and grab a penguin stuffie (yes, anding my baby bird!). I turn the lights down and easily cuddle up on the couch for a true rest. I feel no urge to grab my phone and I simply fall asleep. I sleep until bedtime and then get up and go to bed – 12 hours!

Over the next couple of days I notice I’m making choices that support my well-being with ease again. No more fighting with myself about what I should be doing, giving up and grabbing my phone. 

It always surprises and delights me how “yes, and” breaks through bad habits and repetitive negative thoughts and behaviors. To someone from the outside my choices might not even look that different, but that’s the difference between resisting what I’m doing and saying “yes, and” – I get to unlock my underlying need or desire and gain the motivation to meet that need or desire. It doesn’t always have to make sense – baby bird, huh? And it can be fun and silly – baby bird, HA!

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I inspire and empower people to play in ways that create new possibilities in their lives, communities and the world--knowing full well that play is essential for personal transformation and collective evolution. Hendricks Big Leap Coach and creator of Play It Out Loud, I enjoy providing pathways for all to discover how to participate with and play through their life experiences so they can savor each moment, connect with playmates and take inspired action toward their desires.

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