When you think of making a big change in your life, these two words most likely come to the forefront of your mind: LET GO.
The words LET GO can shake us to our core and bring up much resistance and fear. Is it because we think we will be left with nothing when we let go?
Eventually, when we do decide to release a habit or shift a pattern we often go to extreme measures. We focus so much on what we can't have that what we want to let go of becomes an obsession, or test of will power. With every reminder to LET GO we are giving more power to it. We haven’t let go at all. We are still holding on for dear life.
How can this be accomplished you might ask? By crowding out.
So, what is crowding out?
The first time I heard the term, “crowding out” was almost seven years ago in conversation with a nutritionist. She explained to me crowding out was not forcing yourself to give up all foods, but rather to gradually and naturally shift your diet to make room for better things. A light bulb went off and this changed the way I viewed everything.
I extracted the crowding out philosophy and starting implementing this practice into my daily life.
For someone who had been an extremist all my life this finally made sense on how to create the life I wanted. When it comes to crowding out the key is gradual, not impulsive. Impulsive creates the boomerang effect. Gradually fading things out and transitioning slowly creates more permanent results.
The key is small changes one conscious step at a time. This way there is less for the negative ego to fight against and more positive reinforcement on what you want to make room for. In certain circumstances when you are unable to make gradual change and you have to cut something out cold turkey, such as a substance, crowding it out will help you stay focused on the new energy rather than the old habit.
What have I currently crowded out? Cell phone use in the morning. I’m sure a few of you out there can relate.
For nights I would tell myself, “I will not look at my phone in the morning, I will not look at my phone in the morning”, only to wake up and instinctively grab my iPhone and realize what I’ve done 30 minutes later. Of course I never made any real improvements; I was focusing on what I couldn’t have. I was tempted the minute I woke up and stuck in a habitual pattern. Even when I noticed I was on my phone I would shrug my shoulders and say, “Welp, already messed up today.”
WITH THE CROWDING OUT METHOD I CAN’T RELY ON ALL OR NOTHING MENTALITY. IT CANCELS ITSELF OUT.
This brings more gentleness and healthy boundaries into my life. When I put my phone down I remember this is a process and I am focused on creating solutions. What can I do now? What can I do next time?
In 2018 I finally purchased an alarm clock and now charge my phone in another room. I also keep a journal and book next to my bed to feed the need to engage. The point is I didn’t need to throw away my iPhone or complain how technology is ruining us all. It’s about waking up to the many choices I have - literally.
REFLECTION QUESTION: What is something you can practice crowding out with? What’s a habit in your world you can replace with something else?
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