Habits Change When You Stop Trying so Hard (The Worst True Advice You’ll Ever Hear)

If you ever meet a woman who is having a hard time becoming pregnant, please don’t tell her stories about people who got pregnant when they stopped trying.

Relax, surrender, let it happen naturally, stop trying so hard….

…it’s the worst advice ever, but not because it’s untrue. It actually is true. When we relax and get out of the way, things tend to work the best they ever will.

It’s the worst advice ever because people will try to apply it and applying surrender doesn’t work.

It’s an oxymoron. Like trying to relax.

In this week’s Ask Amy, I respond to a question from a woman who is very motivated to not act on her habit.

She gets my approach, she says. So why isn’t it working? She wants to know why applying the information she’s learned about her habit and her urges isn’t helping.

She’s approaching her urges with an intent to not act on them, which is what we all do, of course. It’s the most logical sounding thing in the world, right?

But I tell her there is a huge difference between approaching our experience with an intent to behave a certain way, and understanding that our experience is safe and fleeting.

I want her to see her habit for what it is—a temporary solution. Not a problem. I want her to consider that she’s habit-free by nature and that her urges are thought-brought-to-life, moving through her.

It’s hard for her to see something new when she’s busy approaching and intending.

Approaching has her mind is engaged—she’s using her intellectual, conceptual mind to approach this “problem” and apply the “right” actions.

There’s work going on. I have nothing against work, it’s just that hard work is not where real change comes from.

A lack of mental engagement—otherwise known as mental relaxation, mental surrender, mental don’t-try-so-hard—makes it a lot easier to be with whatever experience you’re having without acting on a conditioned thought to chase it away.

It’s from beneath the habitual thinking and feeling—from beneath her active intellect—that she can see something helpful about how free and safe she is already.

There’s a shift that changes everything. From trying hard to make change happen, to seeing that life flows through us producing constant, natural change. Like two sumo wrestlers pushing against each other—pushing begets pushing. But when one surrenders, they both fall.

Stop pushing yourself to do the “right” things and apply the “right” approach and the habit you’re trying so hard to get rid of just might begin to crumble by its own weight.

It’s what wants to happen. When we get out of the way of what wants to happen, we give it a much better chance.

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