Forgetting Doesn’t Mean You Don’t Care

Have you ever made a declaration that you’re going to make a change and then after a time or two forgot about it?

I’m going to eat better!

I’m going to exercise every day!

I’m going to watch my spending!

And then you don’t. You eat the way you’ve always eaten. Your workout clothes get crammed to the back of your closet. Your credit card bill stays higher than you’d like.

The problem is that we’re bundles of habits; doing automatic pattern after automatic pattern. Having the same thoughts over and over again.

You go through much of your day doing things unconsciously, following your set routines, whether you mean to or not.

Think about it.

Have you ever been taking a shower and not remembered whether or not you’ve already washed your hair? Been driving, arrived home, and can’t really remember how you got there?

Beyond the initial problem of forgetting to do the thing you declared you wanted, is the really insidious part. Beating yourself up over the forgetting.

That’s when the guilt kicks in, the mean voices start to heckle: “If you can’t remember, why even bother trying.” Or even worse (and totally untrue) “It must not be very important to me if I can’t even remember.”

Those voices can get very, very mean, and trigger backsliding and a shame spiral that’s hard to get out of.

And all this, because you wanted something new in your life.

There is nothing wrong with you because you forgot. It doesn’t speak to how much you value this change you want to make. All it highlights is that we’re running on automatic pilot much of the time, our lives are full and it takes some forethought to set yourself up for success.

You can play with ways of making your new thing a habit. There are some great ideas in this Happy Changes for Happy Habits post. Or, if you’re in Portland, come down to the Athleta Store in the Pearl district on Thursday, 2/20 for a free mini-workshop on what to do when you want to make a change and you keep forgetting. Get the details here or on Facebook.

Photo: Cracked sidewalk heart found on one of my runs through the neighborhood.

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