The Stewing is Worse than the Doing

December 27, 2019 11:54 AM

It’s coming. Each day is one day closer to the Big Day. Pressure builds, exhaustion is at critical mass, and the to-do lists seem endless. Not only that, crankiness is only a breath away and the more we have to do, the more we feel like chucking it all and doing nothing.

It happens every New Year when we start thinking about resolutions and change and “self-improvement.” (Ha, you thought I meant the gift-giving holidays, didn’t you?)

We get stuck. We resist. We stew. We feed into the inertia, the inner resistance to change, by binging on an entire season of Outlander or spending hours playing Candy Crush. And then we feel guilty. What a self-defeating cycle!

Just stop it. Right now, stop it. Quit beating yourself up because you know, you just KNOW, you aren’t going to lose 10 pounds, or quit complaining about your boss and get a new job, or stop being indecisive about practically everything. And if your plan is to make near-impossible resolutions and wrestle yourself into achieving them, then you are probably right. You aren’t going to make it.

Thankfully, yoga always offers us a way, lovelies. That big-box store called Zen has a whole aisle of Yamas and Niyamas, which are the five observances and five restraints of yogic life. They are the ethical suggestions of yoga, something like the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament. Among the suggestions is Tapas. Not the kind served at a Spanish restaurant, rather the kind defined in the Yamas and Niyamas as “inner fire.” In Sanskrit, tapas means heat, and yoga translates it to mean a spiritual change or self-discipline. Essentially it means we stoke our own inner fire of enthusiasm (the doing) and burn off the inertia of procrastination (the stewing).

Yoga teacher and author Deborah Adele says, “Tapas has the sense of cooking ourselves in the fire of self-discipline to transform ourselves into something else.”

Cooking in the fire of self-discipline. Wow.

For me, that means setting aside the indecisive stewing that holds me back from doing. Perfectionism. Poor time management. Lack of focus. Fear of failure. Not wanting to deal with the consequences. Laziness. Whatever it is we are facing … health issues, divorce, job change, family problems … digging down deep and finding our tapas, our inner fire, moves us past the starting gate.

Easier said than done, I know. “Finding your tapas” is an elusive process, but we begin by strengthening our motivation muscles. Just as we have to engage core muscles to maintain a yoga pose, we have to have self-discipline muscle to manifest the change we want to bring about in ourselves.

So here we are, at the starting gate called “Change” and we can’t see anything beyond the first turn on the track. We know there are hurdles ahead, maybe even a few stumbling blocks. But the bell rings and we step out onto the track and away we go. That’s how it works with inner strength. We can’t see the road ahead but we know our desired destination. We manifest the change we need. As Jen Sincero, author of the Badass books, says, “Most answers reveal themselves through doing, not thinking.”

To find your Tapas you need to figure out your destination, what you are stewing about. Sometimes it’s a big-time life decision, such as leaving behind a worn-out marriage. Sometimes all you want to do is figure out how to find the time in the morning to make your kids something healthier than Pop Tarts for breakfast.

So …
What do you want to attract to your life? Calm? Kindness? Health? Fun?
What problem do you need to solve .. and does it really matter in the long run?
What needs to happen for you to be a better version of yourself?
What blocks do you need to remove to go forward?

This year, instead of doing resolutions, click here and download the Manifest 2020 templatecreated by Soul Stretch’s graphic designer, Tina Ingraham. Don’t fill it in right away. Stew a little first, lol! Organize your thoughts, think about your destinations, and write them down. Writing things down brings clarity and objectivity. It stops our wandering thoughts and brings focus. Once you have created your Manifest 2020, pay attention to whether your mental and emotional states have shifted since you began writing, whether you feel more confident and capable.

And then, lovelies, post that Manifest 2020 somewhere where you see it every day, multiple times. It gently reminds you of your goals and almost unconsciously, moves you to take action to achieve them. You will feel your Tapas growing each day!

You can help keep your inner resistance at bay by telling people about your intention (maybe post it on Instagram!) If others need to be involved (a lawyer, a support group, a counselor) in your Tapas, then seek them out. Identify people that help motivate you, who inspire you and give you that little push, and hang around with them instead of the friend who reminds you that you have been talking about finding a new job for years. Create a schedule. Develop a pattern that cues you, such as turning on the tea kettle every night at 9 to have a cuppa chamomile instead of toffee popcorn.

And reward yourself. If you make avocado toast for your kids three days out of seven, lose 10 pounds, start going to AA … those steps are big. Your Tapas is growing and you are flexing your inner strength. I’d say you are entitled to a few games of online solitaire.

This new year of 2020 is a fresh page in your personal journal. Dig deep, find what you want to happen in your life this coming year. Then do your part. Write it down. Stop stewing. Start doing. And when you get to the other side of whatever it is you want, I’ll wager you think, Damn, I should have done this way sooner! It’s never as hard as we think it’s going to be.

Namas-do, lovelies. Drink in the holidays with joy!