In the last blog we looked at the idea of creating self-loving alternatives (SLAs). Once again, the reason we do this is to make the act of being mindful possible. Mindfulness is remembering you have a choice, and that choice is between your habitual approach to life with all of its challenges and a more self-loving alternative. For the SLA to be truly effective, it has to include strategies, ways for adopting the SLA. Why is this so important? It is essential in making this more self-loving approach the new path of least resistance.
Part of the being mindful practice requires you to follow the path of least resistance once you have recalled the choice. Think of the neural pathways as electrical cabling which has been established as having the least resistance, and therefore the greatest flow of electricity. Every time you give consideration to the SLA, you are laying down more electrical cables. At first there are just a few cables, but with the passage of time you have an equally established structure for taking the electrical flow. These additional cables are the strategies and their associated benefits for adopting the SLA.
Thinking less about your habitual patterns of behaviour, is like pulling out old electrical cabling. There is a tipping point in this process where the new cabling becomes the new path of least resistance. This means that you naturally (without will or discipline) begin to adopt the SLAs. This new electrical cabling gets bigger with the continued practice of mindfulness. The addition of gratitude as well as the expansion of compassion is akin to adding extra cabling. SLAs are self compassionate acts. The more compassionate you are with yourself, the more compassionate you become of others, as well as the planet with its environs.
In the early stages of practicing mindfulness, the path of least resistance will see you choosing your ‘old’ habits and patterns of acting, thinking and emoting. Of course that means you will continue to experience or even compound the effects of the old patterns. Now being aware of the cause, and that there are SLAs, you begin to seriously consider what you could do differently.
This is where the strategies for actually experiencing the SLAs come to light. At this juncture it is essential that you remember you will not be asked to engage the strategies, as an act of will or self determination. There will be no accountability of performance as you would have in coaching. In fact you will need to be accountable around doing nothing about the strategies, other than to be mindful of them, until such time as they become the path of least resistance.
So what would these strategies look like? Let’s take food and nutrition as an example. The first thing you might do is to research how much your diet has to do with how your current state of health and wellbeing. There is so much new knowledge about nutrition, gut health and wellbeing that this would be a pretty easy task. From this you could decide what approach to diet would be most serving. This means you would be familiar with the foods, beverages and supplements that would be more serving. Your research might include where you would be able to purchase these items, recipe books and kitchen equipment that would make it all possible.
Remember, you are not actually going out and buying any of it. You might then consider how you would have to rearrange your time as this new way of approaching diet might require more time. What will you be forgoing? TV? Sleeping in?
Another strategy might be to review what you have eaten throughout the day by keeping a food diary. You might include what you ate, how you ate it, where you ate it, why you ate it and how did it make you feel after. You could finish with a statement of how ‘serving’ the choices were. No judgement of it being right or wrong, good or bad, but just how serving was it. Once again, you are not being asked to do it, but to imagine what it would look like IF you were to do it. Every time you add a new strategy, you are building the electrical cabling. As the cabling grows so does the path of least resistance. That’s the moment when you choose to adopt the strategies because it is the most self-loving thing to do, and you don’t have to force yourself to do it.
We already have sufficient evidence to show that forcing yourself to change behaviours typically has short-term results. Dieting! How many diets have overweight people done, where they lost weight, only to fall off the wagon and resort to old eating habits, both putting back on the weight they lost and then some! Another strategy might include a vision board of all of the benefits of a SLA regarding diet. Something that could be seen everyday, to remind you of how truly serving the SLA would be. Remember, this is a strategy, not something you are going to rush out and do, unless the desire to do it comes naturally.
Another strategy might be to find a dietician or naturopath who can mentor you through your dietary changes. Once again, you would research this, maybe by speaking to others who could recommend someone good. You might also find a social network where there were other like-minded people who related to food in the same way as you. There might be a cafe that is oriented towards your SLA way of eating. It might be that this is the first thing you DO, which is the path of least resistance. Hanging around people who already relate to diet in the way you want to.
As you build your repertoire of SLAs it is important to remember that they require no action! They are only strategies that may be implemented if found them to be part of the path of least resistance. At this moment, well developed strategies are what make it possible for you to be mindful! That’s how you develop a new path of least resistance.
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