Guest Column

by Sifu Lorna Hayward

As humans, we are the Great Negotiators. Unfortunately, we often use that skill on ourselves. No one can talk you out of doing something better than yourself! How many times have we all told ourselves that we would get up early the next day, make a good breakfast, and have some time to start the day in a non-stressed fashion, only to hit that snooze button when the alarm sounds in the morning?

Life often has a way of getting in the way of our best intentions. But how often do we talk ourselves out of doing something we know we really should do? Most people really do want to exercise and eat healthy food and sleep better. But then that show comes on, or a friend suggests going out for dinner, or family responsibilities make us run behind, so those good intentions get stuck on the back burner.

How do we stop listening to our own excuses? Truly, the only way to a new habit is by forcing ourselves to do the thing until it becomes something we don’t have to think about. It is far too easy to tell ourselves we’re too tired to go to class tonight, so we’ll just ‘go tomorrow’. If we can stop negotiating with ourselves, we stand a much better chance of seeing our best intentions through.

As far as kung fu classes go, having set days that you are determined to go to class is the fastest road to success. The trick is to stop negotiating with yourself. When you start to think how long the day was, and how comfortable the couch is, it gets harder and harder to go back out. It is especially hard through the winter months, when it is also cold and dark. However, if you can stop yourself from listening to your own attempts to reason your way out of going, it will be worth it!

This determination applies to anything we want to achieve. If we can stop accepting the ‘I can just do it tomorrow’ excuse from ourselves, there is very little limiting what we can do. The danger is, that ‘tomorrow’ will have a new obstacle, and it will get pushed off another day. And then another. Today is the day for starting, and tomorrow is for building on what we have begun. If we never begin, we can’t build on it.

Perhaps using this negotiating skill can be used to your own benefit. Since we seem, as humans, to be able to talk ourselves OUT of things, maybe we can start change by talking ourselves INTO things.