So there’s this human tendency to want to oversimplify a complicated matter. I like to think of it as “just-ing.” For example: “I just need to stop eating so many pastries from the coffee shop and then I’ll like the way I look.” or “I just need to start going to bed earlier and then I’ll stop feeling tired all the time.”
As if your own inner dialogue weren’t helpful enough, you probably have lots of other people just-ing you. You tell your friend that you can’t stop eating sweets and she answers, “You just need to go on a juice cleanse.” You read the food blog that promises a solution to your digestive issues and it tells you, “You just need to stop eating grains.”
When you try to “just” do the thing and it doesn’t work, you look for another just. “I’m just too lazy.” “I just need to try again.” “I just didn’t do it right.” “There’s just no hope for me!”
Why do we fall into this kind of thought pattern? It seems to start with uncertainty. Uncertainty is uncomfortable for us. We don’t like it. We want things to be simple, clear, and easy.
Now, some things are simple, clear, and easy. Because that works so well for us, we tend to pay those things no mind, and instead focus on trying to make the complicated, muddy, and challenging things not be what they are.
Then there’s this weird thing that happens: Telling yourself that you are “just too lazy” or “just not trying hard enough” makes you feel bad about yourself, right? But at the same time, there’s also a comfort in feeling like you have an explanation for what happened. You’re not left with the discomfort of “That didn’t work and I don’t know why.”
As a coach I spend a lot of time with clients exploring this space of uncertainty. What I’ve learned is that you can only figure things out when you’re ready to figure them out. Insight cannot be forced. But you can support the process. Here’s how:
- Watch out for “just” and oversimplifying. Get in the habit of responding, “or maybe there’s more to the situation.”
- Practice sitting with uncertainty. Breathe into it. It’s ok not to have the answers.
- Stay curious and non-judgmental. “Hmm… I wonder what’s going on here.”
- Remember “bigger picture” goals. When we get caught up in behaviors sometimes we forget our overall goal of wellness.
- Experiment. Try out different ways of moving towards your goals. Learn from what happens.
When it comes to changing your health and well-being, there is no “just.” If you make friends with uncertainty, you’ll realize that the state of “not knowing” is an exciting opportunity to try out different ways of being.
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