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Episode 096: Resistance or Procrastination

I am BACK! So excited to be back chatting with you.  Today I am sharing my personal story of both Resistance and Procrastination when it comes to the Happiness Hacks Podcast. Sometimes it is hard to tell which you are experiencing. I hope this episode helps!!

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Hi, and welcome. You are listening to the Happiness Hacks podcast, and I’m your host, Nancy Jane Smith. I’m a licensed professional counselor, and in this podcast, I share my stories, lessons, and hacks that I’ve learned and I continue to learn on my quest to live happier. The show notes and the complete transcripts can be found at live-happier.com\podcast. And this is episode 96, Resistance or Procrastination.

Hello, everybody. Woo, it has been five months since I have been here recording a podcast for all of you. I just vanish. I completely vanished. I didn’t say I was doing a season end. I didn’t wrap it up. I just completely vanished. And so in today’s episode, I’m going to be sharing what’s been happening behind the scenes, why I completely vanished, and how I dealt with both my resistance and my procrastination around this podcast. Because the number one question I get when I talk about the Happier Approach is figuring out who’s talking. Is it my BFF? Is it my Monger? Or is it my Biggest Fan?

Before I get into all that, I want to revisit those three voices and go over those definitions again, because it’s been a minute if you get that information from this podcast. So, our Monger is that inner critic voice, the critical voice that’s constantly telling us that we’re not doing enough, we’re not living up to enough, where we failed, has a memory that goes on forever, and can always bring up where we need some work and what our failures are.

The BFF is our counter to that. So, the BFF is the pressure release valve when our monger has been pushing us way too hard. Then, our BFF steps in to be like, “Do whatever you want, honey. Have that third drink. Binge watch Netflix. Eat the bag of Oreos. It doesn’t matter. Take a break. You deserve it.” So, the BFF  gives us a lot of slack and eases that pressure that the monger’s been putting on us.

So, the middle road of those two voices, and the place that I like to live from, is the Biggest Fan. The Biggest Fan is going to be the voice that’s saying, “Phew, I know this is hard, but we’re going to keep on going,” or, “I know you messed up there, but it’ll be okay. Let’s see how we can improve for next time.” The Biggest Fan, I like to say, is that voice of kindness and wisdom that both the BFF and the monger are missing.

So today, as I said, I want to talk about my journey over the past five months while the podcast has been on an unexplained hiatus and why you haven’t been hearing me chat here in the podcast. The last podcast episode I recorded was September 23rd, I think, to be precise. I would say I was white-knuckling through podcast episodes starting probably in August. By white-knuckling, that means my Monger was in charge, and I was recording episodes because she was telling me that I needed to do it. It was purely from her shame, and her belittling, and the voice in my head telling me that I was a loser if I didn’t record a podcast. That was the only reason I recorded those last five episodes. So, my heart wasn’t really in it, but I was coming to the microphone because I felt like a loser if I didn’t.

So, what happened because I had was running purely on Monger motivation is what always happens when we’re running purely on Monger motivation. I got burnout. I got tired of hearing that voice. The shame, and the belittling, and the criticism just became too much. And I would associate the microphone and this podcast with shaming and belittling. So, who wants to record anything if the constant message running in your head is that it’s imperfect, that no one’s listening, that no one cares. All that criticism that my Monger was giving me built to a head at the end of September.

So, I decided to pull away, and I nowhere near was planning on taking a five-month break. So, that’s why I wanted to share what happened to me in that process because I think it might be helpful for you to see how the Monger, and the BFF, and our Biggest Fan’s show up and how we choose to deal with them is the key to this whole process. So, I want to explain how I dealt with them. And it was by in no way perfect, to get that off the table right away. Just to give you a sample, or a behind-the-scenes look in how it works, we’re doing this work, actively doing this work of the happier approach.

So, I would say all of September, October, and November was a full-on rebellion against the podcast. I was judging all podcasts. I was very much living in the space of the BFF, and the BFF was like, “Take a break, girl. We’re done with this podcasting. We’re just going to take a break, and we’re just going to do whatever we want.” So, I’ve very much lived in a world of justifying why it was okay that I wasn’t doing a podcast, ignoring the fact that I felt like I wanted to be doing a podcast. I was just in this place of rebellion, and judgment, and full on not touching it. And so, very much the BFF was in control of my decisions at that point when it comes to the podcast.

I think that happens a lot in our lives that we push ourselves so hard with our Mongers and they run the show, and so then the BFF has to take over. You know, and a common example of this would be if you’re on any diet. A diet is a great example of if you’re restricting. Your Monger’s coming in and judging you based on what you ate, and if you’re a good person or a bad person based on what you ate or how much you’ve worked out. It’s easy to fall into that Monger world within that type of situation. So, you can do that for a prolonged period. Then, it gets too much, and so your BFF in and says, “Eat whatever you want. This is too hard,” and so all the weight that you might have lost, you gain it back, plus probably a little bit more, which is why there’s so much controversy about the diet culture working because that dynamic plays out very strongly in that particular example.

But, it shows up all the time. It shows up any time that you are pushing yourself or white-knuckling herself to do a project or to do something even you love like I love this podcast. If the Monger has taken over, your BFF will eventually step in, and you’ll pull back completely.

So, September, October, November, completely BFF was running the beast. She was in charge of my podcast recording, or lack thereof. Then, in December and January, a few of my colleagues and friends started asking me what was going on, like why was I so resistant to the podcast. And I started getting curious about what was happening. I realized I still didn’t want to record the podcast at that time. I  was very much in the BFF world. But what started coming up for me was resistance. A lot of times, we call resistance procrastination, and they’re two different things.

I have learned in the past year that a lot of times when I slow down and listen to that resistance, I can grow to another space. But, so often we don’t sit and listen to the resistance because our Mongers step in to tell us that we need to be doing something differently, or we need to be doing it better, or we need to be whatever we need to be doing, period. So because we need to be doing, we don’t allow the space for the resistance. That is the hardest part about resistance, especially for those of us that have high-functioning anxiety.

Because if you have high-functioning anxiety, you want to be doing, doing. Tell me how to do it, and I’ll do it. Tell me how to feel my feelings. Tell me how to acknowledge what’s going on. Tell me how to slow down and get into my body. This resistance piece is a little fuzzy, and so that means we need to slow down and be curious and create space for what’s going to come up.

So, fortunately for me, December and January are slow times in my world, so I was able to have space. People aren’t expecting me to be recording podcast episodes and having my podcasts go gangbusters. So, I was able to slow down and just observed the resistance. I would talk to my friends about it. I talked to my husband about it. And as stuff started coming up, I started just noticing it wasn’t that I hated the podcast. It wasn’t that it was a terrible thing. It was just I needed to make some adjustments to how the podcast was going.

Which leads me to another thing that happens very commonly when we’re dealing with Mongers, and BFFs and all this stuff is, like I said, the Monger will take charge. It’ll be telling you what to do. That gets to be too much, so you bring in the BFF, and the BFF is like, “Do whatever you want.” Then what happens is we are like, “Okay, I got to reenter the force. I got to get back into the podcast,” or, “I got to get back into my workout,” or whatever the project is for you. I got to get back in there. I got to get back into the arena. A lot of times, we’ll tell ourselves,  I can’t get back into the arena unless I do something totally different. I can’t come back to the same podcast and just say, “Hey, guys. It’s been five months. Sorry.” I have to do a new podcast, and revamp everything, and come up with a new plan, and change how I’ve been doing everything. Sometimes that is true. You’ll notice over the next couple of months there are going to be some changes here.

And sometimes you just have to come back and be like, “Okay, I’m ready. You know, it was burnout. I took a break, and here I am,” and that you realize there are little changes you can make that can improve the process. So, it isn’t that, going back to the diet analogy, it isn’t that I need to restrict my calories to 1,200 calories or that I need to be working out five days a week every day for an hour. I can make some slight changes. I can start eating more fruits and vegetables and noticing how they make my body feel. I can, you know, try to move my body every day, see how it feels when I move my body and have some curiosity around that.

So, I don’t have to be living in these extremes of black and white and good girl and bad girl that my Monger tends to put me in. I’m a good girl if I record my podcast every week, and I get it out on Tuesdays, and it’s super militant, and I share it in all my social media channels, and I put it in my newsletter. All of those rules I had for the podcasts were weighing me down was one problem.

And then, the idea that I couldn’t just come back in, I couldn’t just step back into the podcast. You can’t just come back into a new workout plan without a whole big workout plan. Nope. I could just start walking, see how that goes. So, I can just come back here and start recording my podcast and see if anyone listens. Because what happens is our Mongers tell us, “No, no. It has to be perfect. It has to be relevant.” You know, I had a lot of Monger messages this morning when I knew I was going to record this podcast about how it was going to go poorly, and what it was going to get messed up, and all that stuff. So, paying attention to the BFF and the monger.

Okay, but I’ve gotten a little sidetracked here on the whole resistance piece because the resistance piece is where it’s at. It’s what I want to be talking about. I like to think of the resistance as what makes the pearl in the oyster shell. And what makes that pearl is time, and grit and just things happening and allowing that space for that curiosity in that space and that whittling down and shining to occur, we need to take a step back, and we need to honor the resistance.

So, what’s the difference between resistance and procrastination? That is the big question. And so how I found out that answer was when I worked with a colleague of mine and we brainstormed a new plan for the podcast, which you’ll be seeing that coming out in a couple of months. I’ll have a lot more details on that later. I still wasn’t recording any episodes. We agreed to a new plan, and then I was going to come back here and record episodes. This was probably a month ago we decided this, and I haven’t been here. You know, every day it’s on my to-do list. Every day I push it back. Bottom line, it wasn’t getting done.

So, this week I was talking to this friend of mine, and she said, “Hey, I haven’t, you know, no podcast. What’s going on? I haven’t heard of yet.” And I was like, “Yeah, you know, I just need to do it.” Now I am in the place of the Biggest Fan needs to step in here. Now I am just procrastinating because my Monger is telling me, “You’re not relevant. No one wants to listen to you. It’s not going to be perfect. You’ve been gone for five months. Who do you think you are?” All of the messages that she tells me.

So, I realized that my Monger was running the show. So, we’re out of resistance. Resistance is no longer in the game. It was pure procrastination because I had a plan. I knew what was happening next. I felt good about what was happening next. I’m excited about the direction that I want to take the podcast. That is just pure procrastination that was preventing me from turning on the mic and coming here to chat with all of you.

So, what’s the difference then? What’s the difference between the resistance that I was feeling this fall and the procrastination that I was feeling? Well, the biggest thing is the resistance was bigger. It was louder. I felt stuck. I couldn’t record a podcast even if I forced myself to. I was just well beyond the white-knuckling of the Monger. I was burnt out. So, that is a different level of resistance than the low-level procrastination of, “Oh, I’ll do it tomorrow. Oh, I’ll do it tomorrow. Oh, I’ll do it tomorrow.” I mean, in the fall, the podcasts didn’t even hit my to-do list because I just knew I couldn’t do it. It just wasn’t happening. So, that resistance voice was very firm, and I knew I had to start listening to it because it gave me no other choice.

So as I always say, the best way to tell whether it’s resistance or procrastination is to practice ask. When I would practice A.S.K. in the fall around this topic of the podcast, and I’d call in my Biggest Fan. I acknowledged what I was feeling, I would acknowledge the annoyance, and the doubts and the insecurity. I would slow down and get into my body, and I’d pull back to see the big picture and try to figure out new ways of doing the podcast, I couldn’t move forward. My Biggest Fan would step in and be like, “I don’t have anything for you. We’re just going to keep hanging in this resistance and see what happens.”

Now, when I practiced A.S.K yesterday around the same topic after I talked to my friend and was like, “What’s the problem?” my Biggest Fan was like, “You just got to do this, Girl. We got to get on the mic and make this happen.” So, there wasn’t that stuckness. By practicing ask, I could get to the other side and see, “Okay, this isn’t just resistance. This is procrastination.”

The biggest reason I was able to figure that out is because I trusted myself. I knew that if I listened to myself if I was calm that it would work. Years ago, that wouldn’t have happened because I would have been so worried about what does everybody else think? I need to be consistent. This needs to happen. Oh my gosh. I’m such a loser. And I would have been looking to the outside world to see what would happen. What I would have done is I probably would have just blown the whole thing up. So, the same resistance would’ve come in, and I would not have had the patience to sit with it, to see what comes up, to brainstorm other ideas, to look around and see the little changes I could make. I would have just ended the whole thing.

So when I look at my past, I have a lot of history of that, that I’ll start a project, I’ll hit resistance, I’ll blow it up, and then I don’t come back to it. So, that’s where I realize now when I see this in my clients, too, that we miss out on little things in life because we do that blow-it-all-up thing rather than really sitting and calmly facing the resistance.

So, I tell you this story, one, to explain where I’ve been and why I haven’t been here. But, I also tell you this story so you can start recognizing that this stuff isn’t linear. It isn’t like you master the Monger and the BFF voices, and then they don’t snag you, or you practice A.S.K., and everything’s okay. No, no, no. That is not it. It’s not a nuanced process. It has a whole lot of ups and downs.

I was able to share this with you today in a pretty linear way. In September, this happened. In October, this happened. In January, this happened. But, it didn’t happen like that. I was all over the board. I mean, I doubted everything, was doubting myself. I did a whole big spiral down into the rabbit hole, as I say. So, it wasn’t linear and smooth. For the sake of sharing the story now, I can look back on it and tell you how smooth and linear it is, which is how these stories go.

But, I want you to recognize that this process is messy and it takes us all over the board. But if we’re willing to go into the mess, we can come out with something new. And that’s the piece that I had missed years ago that I was never willing to go into the mess. I was never willing to see the gray. I would just go in. If it didn’t work out, I blow it up. If I could push my way and white-knuckle my way through, I would. So, paying attention if that’s a pattern for you. Is that something you’re doing that instead of just being willing to sit with the uncomfortableness of the resistance, are you pushing past it and blowing it all up?

Secondly, I want you to recognize when you’re in resistance and when you’re in procrastination can be tricky. I know the more you pay attention to what you’re feeling, the more you can figure it out. Because like I said, resistance feels like a block, like a stuck. It’s a hard no, and it’s sometimes unexplainable. That’s uncomfortable because we are used to pushing ourselves through anything. So, procrastination is usually covering up shame and criticism.

I knew the feeling was different these past few weeks because I wanted to do it. I had the intention. It was on my to-do list. But then, the shame and the criticism would come up and I couldn’t face it. So, I needed to practice with my Biggest Fan and make sure she was there by my side as I was doing this and getting ready to record this so that I would be okay with that.

So, that is my summary, my explanation, not justifying, but just sharing  where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing in the past five months. Hopefully you can hear yourself and see if there’s a place in your life where you’re facing some resistance to being able to slow down and take that in and see what it brings up. Because in our culture, when we hit resistance, we either plow through or we completely back off. And sometimes we need to sit there and see what comes up. So, that’s what I encourage you to do if you’re in a place of resistance.

So, the plan is that I’m going to back. I’m back. I’m recording episodes. I’m going to be showing up for you. Then, I’m hoping to sprinkle in some new things so it’s not just me talking. But, I’m going to do some investigation, going to ask some questions, going to do some interviews. I’m excited about the direction we’re headed. Just need a little time to work all that stuff out.

So in the meantime, keep showing up. I’ll be here every week chatting with you. And if you have any questions or any concerns, please email me, nancyjane@live-happier.com. You can follow me on Instagram at nancyjane_livehappier. And until next time, here’s to living happier.

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