Are you disappointed in yourself for not making more progress on your New Year’s resolutions? Are you chastising yourself for carrying extra weight or falling off your exercise regimen? Are you frustrated because your to-do list is growing rather than getting shorter? Consider this…
A monk was assigned to build a brick wall for his monastery. Not having laid bricks before, he worked hard to learn how to lay the rows evenly. It took him a long, long time, but finally his work was done. He stepped back to survey it, and was mortified to see two bricks out of line near the bottom of the wall. At this point there was no fixing the crooked bricks; it was time for him to move on to his next project in the monastery. He felt ashamed, but there was nothing he could do.
Several months later, the monk was guiding a visitor through the monastery grounds. The visitor passed the new wall and commented how nice it looked. The monk, feeling mortified again, asked the visitor how he could say such a thing – didn’t he see the two bad bricks which spoiled the wall? “Yes”, the visitor replied, “I can see those two bricks. But I can see the 998 good bricks as well!”*
When we look at ourselves, it’s easy to focus on what’s negative to the exclusion of everything else. The trouble is that a narrow focus on the negative with accompanying self-criticism can bring us to a state of paralysis with respect to our goals. It’s never too late to achieve what you want to achieve. Here’s how you can make it easier on yourself:
· Treat yourself with the compassion you’d extend to your best friend. If your friend was having trouble sticking to an exercise regimen, would you criticize her? More likely you’d listen, help evaluate why the results hadn’t yet been achieved, brainstorm possible solutions and cheer your friend on. Be your own best friend.
· Don’t do anything because you think you “should”. Set goals from conviction about what makes sense for you, keeping in mind that you are unique. What’s important for you to do and how you get there may or may not look like what others are doing…and that’s cool!
· Set up support. Find others you can turn to for ideas, feedback and encouragement. So many things in life are easier when shared.
· Celebrate yourself! Daily, acknowledge what went RIGHT today and allow yourself to feel satisfaction about it. Set up milestones along your path towards your goals, and celebrate each time you reach one.
Keep your eye on the big picture, and allow that there will be missteps along the way – we’re all human, after all! If it’s physical or emotional health issues you’re working on, I’d love to support you in achieving your goals. You can count on me to listen and help formulate solutions that work for you. I’ll be there to remind you of the 998 good bricks in your wall. And I’ll cheer as loud as you do when your goals are achieved!
So tell me below: what’s been your hardest goal to stick with? What do you think is in your way?
*from the writings of Ajahn Brahm