When to Embrace Misery

By: Kristin Martineau | July 17, 2018

Have you ever set a big goal, been really motivated and excited and then a few days or weeks later the excitement wears off and you give up?

I think most of us can relate to that experience. It’s frustrating and discouraging when we do that to ourselves, so why do we do it?

It’s not because something is wrong with you. On your way to accomplishing your goal, your brain goes through four phases. Knowing these phases can help you understand why you do what you do and how to keep going until you accomplish your goal.

1. Commitment – First you decide on a goal and commit to doing it. This is the phase that is exciting and fun. I like to call it the New Year’s resolution phase. You have all these big plans, and you are finally going to do it this time.

2. Courage- Your lower brain tries really hard to protect you and big goals feel like a threat. The excitement wears off and your brain tries to offer you lots of thoughts like, “This isn’t going to work. It works for other people, but not me. I’m tired. I’ll do it tomorrow. This is boring. It isn’t worth it. I can’t get up that early. It’s too hard. I’m scared. I should just stop now so I don’t fail.”

These thoughts create feelings like fear, discouragement, boredom, frustration, complacency and shame. This part is what we call the river of misery.

It’s the part where we let go of one shore of the river, but we aren’t to the other side yet. It’s unfamiliar territory and we think all the negative feelings are an indication to stop.

This is where most people give up. Your lower brain is screaming “turn back!” and it makes a very compelling case. If you can learn to tolerate and even embrace this stage of discomfort you have just found the key to accomplishing any of your goals.

This is one of the most important skills I teach in my coaching program. It’s a GAME CHANGER. (I hold two spots a week for people who want to try coaching for free! The first two people to click here will get the open spots)

This stage doesn’t mean stop, it means KEEP GOING.

3. Capability- This is where it starts to get easier. You are forming habits that support your goals. You are mastering the skill you set out to learn. You aren’t doing it perfectly, but your lower brain has settled down and you are steadily increasing your abilities all the time.

4. Confidence- Once you have achieved capability you gain confidence. You are now capable of what you once only dreamed you could do.

So remember, the river of misery is normal. Just expect it, and know that nothing has gone wrong.

I’ll leave you with these two thoughts that help me when I’m swimming in the river of misery:

“Thanks lower brain for trying to protect me. Your opinion is noted, but there’s no danger here so I’m going to keep going.”

“Discomfort is the currency of success.”

Don’t forget to grab your free mini session before someone else does!

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