Debra Swersky
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After The Fact

Finally, I remembered to both a) lock the apartment door when I get inside, something that I am very familiar with doing, and b) turn the fan on in the bathroom when I’m showering... It's right next to the light which I need to turn on to shower. Both of these things, since moving to Dallas have consistently slipped my mind. So, yes, “finally.” It has taken two weeks of living in Dallas, but for whatever reason I was having trouble remembering to do those two super simple things. Here’s why…

Please recall from a couple of weeks ago my latest attempt at Headspace. I’m pleased to say that I have been consistent and have given myself 10 minutes of Headspace each day. I was, however, as I typically do when I attempt Headspace, struggling with what I learned. So, I talked about it with my mentor. Though I didn’t think that I was learning anything, she highlighted for me the “self-awareness” that I had adopted of my thoughts. Here’s what happened:

Last Wednesday I started a new series of sessions in Headspace called “Balance.” In the sense that Headspace is a gym membership for your brain, the series kicked off with an exercise. I was asked to take note of how many times you stand-up and sit-down throughout your day. For the first two-hours I did super well and noticed with ease how many times I sat-down and stood-up. Then we ran some errands and I got in-to and out-of the car about five times… without thinking twice about it. I only remembered after we walked through the front door. As I explained this to my mentor, she pointed out that the fact that I had that reaction: noting and then not noting, was exactly the learning that I should be doing. The point of the exercise was not to actually note how many times you stood up and sat down, but rather be more present throughout your day. Headspace, or meditation, is awareness of your thoughts… exercises to help you stay more present in your day-to-day (not a tally of your sitting and standing efforts).

Throughout our conversation it bothered me that I wasn’t noting these things until after the fact. Be it the standing-up/sitting-down exercise or what I actually said in a conversation or what was really upsetting me. I was taking note of these things after the fact, conversation, or fight. It was as if I was constantly in reflection-mode instead of actively participating in my own life. We approached this subject and I learned the, very simple, stages of behavior change: before, during, and after. Duh. If you’re looking to change a behavior you first recognize that you didn’t do something after you haven’t done it. (Grr… better next time). Then you recognize that you’re doing a behavior while you’re doing it. (Pat yourself on the back. Congrats!). Then, finally, you recognize that you’re going to do a behavior before you do it… and you do it. (Hooray!)

So, yes, I’ll take a full standing ovation and round of applause because I finally remembered to both a) lock the apartment door when I get inside and b) turn the fan on in the bathroom when I’m showering. I will, however, continue to work on being actively present in my own life. I am certainly not a pro, but at least I recognize that the behavior can change... and I'm working on it.

Debra Swersky