Six Steps to Integration
I just returned from a life-changing weekend workshop, but I am afraid that I won’t be able to keep this feeling. Especially with certain people. I know that work is hopeless but I at least want to know how to be the same way w friends and family.
– Afraid of Crashing
Dear Afraid of Crashing,
I have some bad news for you: that feeling will fade. At least a little bit.
The good news is that the weekend high will not go away entirely. Change is possible, and there are things you can do to support yourself in this ongoing evolution of who you are.
Change takes time and consistent effort. Research from University College of London revealed that habit forming can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days, with the overwhelming average of 66 days. Therefore I believe a more honest way to express your goal is that you want to integrate your new way of being into everyday life.
Step 1: Acknowledge that the Feeling Will Fade
Trying to hold on to the weekend high is like jumping out of plane and not pulling your parachute because you still want to be flying.
So the paradoxical first step is to acknowledge the intransience of your new way of being. This is true for feelings in general, not just people returning from a workshop—the less tightly you hold on to them, the more easily they become integrated into daily life.
Step 2: Identify What You Don’t Like and What You Want Instead
You cannot un-see what you have seen. The feeling you have now will always be in your mind and memory for you to reference. Before this weekend, you might have known that you did not like the way things were, but you probably did not know exactly how you wanted them to be.
Step 3: Catch Yourself in A Habit
You are now much clearer on what you do not want. When you find yourself slipping into those habitual ways of being, stop yourself. Take a deep breath, and connect to what you do want. Thanks to your weekend, you know what this looks and feels like, in action.
Step 4: Speak Your Resistance, Speak What You Want
With this clarity, you can start the switch to your new way of being. Notice your resistance—whether it is fear of other people’s reactions, uncertainty, frustration, joy, excitement, and so on—and tell people.
Then, speak what you want, and tell people why. Sharing this motivation almost always takes the relationship deeper and allows us to more clearly connect to the new way of being—often even when others reject it. It also helps us avoid weirding people out.
For example, “I’m afraid to bring this up, but I’d like to try something out that I learned this weekend, because I want a more caring relationship between us.” But remember, the less rehearsed and more authentic it is in the moment, the better.
Step 5: Switch to the New Way of Being Internally
Although each weekend retreat—or positive, refreshing weekend experience of a less formal type—is different, and each person’s growth is unique, there is always an internal shift that accompanies other changes. Even if your retreat was about very specific techniques to earn money, you likely felt inspired by a sense of possibility and abundance. You can tap into this internal way of being regardless of external circumstances, and this will help you gain confidence and continuing to change the external even in the face of opposition.
This can be very difficult in the moment, so one way to support yourself is to mentally practice how you will be. When you’re relaxed—perhaps in the morning when you wake up, when you take a shower or right before you go to sleep—imagine yourself in the midst of a challenging situation. Really put yourself there, imagining with all five of your senses, even the energetic and emotional qualities of the moment. Now, imagine how you will exchange your old way of being for your new one. Let yourself be creative, and let yourself be surprised.
If the change is massive, calling forth an entirely new way of seeing the world, you cannot truly practice it because you do not yet know what it is really like. This mental rehearsal can still be helpful as long as you are open to being spontaneous in the moment, instead of relying on what you are familiar with in your head.
Step 6: Celebrate the New Way of Being
This last step is fairly self-explanatory, but easy to forget. Sometimes we are so tuned in to the way we want ourselves to be that we only focus on the times we are not that way. It is just as important to celebrate and honor our success. Not only does this connect to our motivation, it helps cement this way of being into reality, as we remind ourselves that what we want is possible.
Everyone has a different way of celebrating, and each moment will call for different sizes and kinds of celebrations. Find out what works best for you, but just remember to track where you came from and where you are going.