The first time I recall feeling anxious before travel I was 29 years old. My dad was driving me to the airport for the trip of a lifetime—to Istanbul. I was meeting up with my Aunt Frances in Chicago and together we were flying to Turkey. And I spent that whole drive to the airport vibrating and trying to breathe (this was not long before my first Alexander Technique lesson, but alas, I didn’t have those skills yet). My dad gave a good pep talk. Then onto the plane and a grand adventure. I turned 30 in Istanbul.
Recently I had the opportunity to spend a night by myself at the Coast. A birthday slash mothers day gift to myself—one night to be quiet in a beautiful place without the constant barrage of other people’s needs. Packing up the car I whined to my husband: “Why am I doing this? I don’t want to go!” I didn’t really mean it and we both knew it, so he gave me the pep talk, as I vibrated with pre-trip anxiety. Yes I knew it was a good idea, but that didn’t stop me from experiencing massive resistance to this disruption of my routine. A routine that helps me feel—most days—like I’m just barely keeping my head above the parenting and working and living in this world waters. Needless to say, before I’d driven 20 miles I had a huge grin on my face and was singing along to the Beatles.
Why are we so resistant to things that are genuinely good for us? Why have I been avoiding this blog for the last two weeks? My friend and co-conspirator Kim Dawson calls it a “resist-stance” and, boy do I have that stance down. F.M. Alexander noticed this phenomenon. He observed that our habit—whether of routine or posture or thought—always feels normal, always feels “right” to us. Even if we know it isn’t serving us, there is a deep comfort in the feeling tone of the habitual. And any deviation from that, even something that we can “objectively” see as preferable, feels wrong, feels uncomfortable, feels icky.
Knowing this, having this phenomenon reaffirmed over and over in my life doesn’t seem to lessen its power. I still suffer from massive resistance to everything from going to bed on time to traveling to writing. The saving grace, however, is that I can (mostly) recognize it as resistance. Desperately not wanting to interrupt my routine to spend a night at the coast is part of the process, for me, of spending a night at the coast. The annoying part.
What are you resisting? Are you avoiding something awesome because it feels awkward or uncomfortable to break your routine? Let this be your pep talk. Try it anyway! You might find yourself refreshed and rejuvenated. You might find your self.