Why Cliff Jumping is Good For You

 

{I would love to but… thats easier said than done…I will when I have more time…}

Any of that sound familiar? Did you know that your brain is PROGRAMMED to talk you out of trying new things? Yep. Today I’ll tell you about how I learned how to trick my brain and leap off cliffs…

For me the journey started, as many do, one January, with a shiny new outlook on life and a promise to finally stick to my resolutions.  I decided to do WHOLE30 with my sister and it seemed, at the time, insurmountable.  No grains, dairy, sugar or alcohol for 30 days.  SERIOUSLY?  Said a little voice inside my head.  “That’s impossible.  You need coffee, with cream.  You NEED that glass of wine after work.  No bread?  That’s just ridiculous.  This is NOT the time for you to be doing something so dramatic.  You are working 3 jobs, and starting a new business and, and, and…”

If not now, then when?

Said another little voice, I’ve come to think of as “Joy” (more on her later).  I thought about it.  I really did.   I started playing out the tape of my life, envisioning a time when I thought I would be less busy and better suited to take on such a challenge.   While the allure of next month, the summer, NEXT January was tempting, for the first time in my life I was really holding my feet to the fire and asking myself the hardest question: am I lying to myself to feel better? 

I know you’ve done that.  Told yourself a lie to help you make a decision.  KNOWING you aren’t gonna do it.  I just did it earlier this week.  I said, I’ve gotta throw away the rest of that custard tart my friend made for me, or I’ll eat the whole thing.  I’ll do it later, I told myself, when I take out the trash. But deep down, I KNEW I wasn’t going to.  I just told myself that to feel better. 

 FYI: I didn’t throw it out.  And I DID eat it.  And it was freaking delicious. #NoRegrets

It’s an easy pattern to fall into.  Telling ourselves that we will start tomorrow, next week will be better, next month will be less busy.  It helps us get through the day, to hold on to that glimmer that tomorrow is a new day, and it will magically be better than this one. 

It won’t. 

Sorry to be blunt, but your days are not suddenly going to get less stressful, less busy, and…. poof!  Life is going to look like the balanced, happy vision you had for yourself. 

Unless. 

 Unless you do something different.  That can be difficult, which is why most people don’t do it.  It’s hard to take that first step because it takes you getting VERY real with yourself and saying, tomorrow will NOT be better.  Next week will NOT be less hectic.  The summer will NOT be less busy.  It will just be busy, stressful, and hectic in a different way.   

So changing takes you calling yourself on the bullshit that you tell yourself to get through the day.  It takes you looking in the mirror and saying THIS IS MY LIFE RIGHT NOW.  Today is not a fluke.  This is it.  And if I don’t like it how it is right now, then I need to change something, right now.  Not tomorrow, not next week, not in the summer.  RIGHT NOW.  In spite of all the excuses I have for myself; that I feel broke, tired, and too busy.  Those are all the EXACT reasons I HAVE to do this right this moment, because as we just agreed, those things aren’t going away.  Therefore, waiting is not helping. 

 Leap!  And the net will appear.

I want you to think about that.  Imagine you are standing at the edge of cliff with a dramatic drop-off.  I always picture The Cliff of Moher in Ireland when I go here in my brain, but any cliff will do.  Now really imagine running and jumping off.  SHIT!  Your brain and body are like NO WAY.    For a good reason by the way.  You are, as far as your brain and body know, about to kill yourself.  So this little mechanism kicks in in your brain that says, STOP!  THIS IS A BAD IDEA.  Not safe.  Back away from the cliff.  Stay here where it’s safe.  Well, thank you brain, for keeping me safe from actually jumping off a cliff.  I appreciate you.

Now, lets makes this cliff in your mind.  It’s the cliff to starting that business you always wanted, or going after that dream job, to leaving your shitty relationship, or to starting that health kick.  Maybe you imagine the cliffs like in Inside Out, or maybe still envision Ireland.  Makes no difference.  The important thing to know here, is when you start to imagine jumping off that cliff, you brain is going to have the exact same reaction.  And I do mean EXACT.  Your brain can’t tell the difference between being in actual danger of jumping off the Cliffs of Moher, and jumping off the imaginary cliff of a mega life change.  You will release the same fight or flight adrenaline and set off your pyscho cybernetic mechanism

 Say whaaaa?

Your PSYCHO-CYBERNETIC MECHANISM

 Your pyscho cybernetic mechanism is part of your subconscious brain that develops as a child.  Think of it as the thermostat of your body.  Its job is to keep you safe by making sure you stay inside a predetermined “comfortable zone”, just like the thermostat in your house makes sure the temperature is “comfortable”.  Make sense? 

So when the temperature gets too high in your house, the AC kicks on, right?  Similarly, when the temperature in your mind gets too hot, too dangerous, your PCM (lets call is that, since pyscho cybernetic mechanism is really long to keep typing) kicks in and says, WHOA NELLY.  That’s a BAD idea.  Cool it off.  Lets get back in that … comfort zone.  (<- See what I did there)

Mhmm.  You brain is WIRED to work against you doing anything new. It senses danger and will stop at NOTHING to keep you from doing what it perceives to be a threat to your safety.  You’ll get butterflies in your stomach, feel sick, anxious, cry, be angry, get distracted, and talk yourself out of it.  The list goes on and on.  If you don’t believe me, try it out.  Next time something makes you nervous, do a body scan.  Check in with all the physical feelings.  They can be really intense and uncomfortable; and that’s for a good reason.  It’s a great motivation to stop doing what you are about to do, isn’t it? 

 

I can’t just take a big poop on PCM though, because it DOES keep us safe (Don’t walk down that dark alley Dayna.  Thanks PCM!).  But I do want to challenge it, and you, to nudge at it to see if we can uncover when its being truly helpful, and when its holding us back from the change we are truly capable of. 

 

To go back to me in that January, THAT was the difference.  My PCM was screaming at me to not change.  To stay where I was.  That I would crumble under this new life plan.  But somewhere, my voice of reason piped up.  I like to think of her as Joy from Inside Out because we all need an overly peppy cheerleader who believes in us.  She was like.  “Well.  Maybe you are wrong PCM.  Maybe we won’t die.  Maybe we will LEAP and the net will appear”.   At which point the battle inside be began.  Joy on onside, PCM on the other. 

Usually this battle happens so fast we don’t even register it.  A mechanism is by definition, an established process by which something takes place.  It’s established.  It’s the rule.  We don’t jump off cliffs as a rule.  Good rule.  We start to rationalize why we shouldn’t do that dangerous thing.  Good in the case of a real cliff.  Less good when it comes to changing ourselves.  We tell ourselves rational-lies and then we believe them.  Hook, line & sinker, in the span of 1 second. 

For some reason, that day, I was able to stop the PCM process and debate it with myself.  It wasn’t pretty. Eventually, I had to find my inner Gryffindor, pull out my courage and decide to listen to Joy instead of PCM.  Woof.  That was hard.  I’m literally getting butterflies in my belly just writing it and that was YEARS ago.  I was so uncomfortable in every part of my body, but I promised myself I would see it through. 

 Spoiler: I did it. 

I drastically changed the way I ate over 30 days, and while it certainly helped my energy level, my waistline and my overall health, it really changed my life in a much more profound way.  It showed me that I was capable of change even when my life seemed at its most crazy.  I had the capacity and the ability to change and do something differently.  It showed me I would survive.  More than survive.  That I would THRIVE. 

 Joy got a point that day.  (The scales were still pretty unbalanced, cause my PCM had been pretty much ruling me my whole life), but she got on the scoreboard.  That first point was everything. 

 After that, I started examining all the areas of my life that felt stuck, unhappy, or dark.  One by one, I began busting through the beliefs I had built up as a kid or even as an adult.  “You are bad with money” was a big one.  Taking control of my finances was SO HARD you guys, but it remains one of the most empowering things I have done.  (You can see my video on that here and read about it here).  Progressively bigger and bigger life changes started to happen.  I’ll tell you all about them some day, but for now just know my life has changed pretty dramatically over the last 5 years.  I look back on the person I was before that first Whole30 transformation and sometimes I hardly recognize her.  I’m always proud of her though.  In awe of her really.  For having that lightening strike moment and having the courage to question it.

 What’s your Biggest Strength?

Recently, I was being interviewed and the interviewer asked me what me biggest strength was.  What I said was, I’m not afraid to fail.  But I what I meant was, I’m not afraid to leap. 

I still get scared.  I still get butterflies and feeling like I’m gonna puke.  That’s not ever going to go away I don’t think. I still get cranky and upset when I know its time to face another change.  My PCM is getting trickier and throwing new feelings at me all the time.

 But I’m no longer afraid to leap.  Just like anything in life, I’ve jumped off the cliff enough times to know that there is always a net.  It’ll catch me if I fall. 

 You know what I also know?  That I’ll probably fly. 

 

If are thinking of doing something new, something scary, I this encourages you to take that leap.  If you are feeling brave, leave me a comment and tell me what cliff you are planning to jump off.

 

#leapandyouwillfly

 

Dayna SchaafComment