Whenever I read through my emails or the recent posts in the Habits of Health Facebook group, the vast majority of the stories are celebratory. People are discovering their potential and unlocking optimal wellbeing in their lives. At the same time, though, I see messages of frustration, desperation and hopelessness.
One reader had a bad week at work and chose fast food over healthy fuelings.
Another reader couldn’t fall asleep at night and ended up skipping their morning workout to recover.
The feeling seems to be that these mistakes are failures, another moment where someone tried their best and came up painfully short. The stories are heartbreaking, but they don’t need to be. In your journey to optimal wellbeing, a mistake is actually a blessing, a tool you can use to propel yourself farther than ever before.
Follow the Bubbles
If you like to ride bicycles or work on cars, you probably know this trick. When a tire gets a leak but you aren’t sure where the leak is coming from, you fill the tire back up with air and submerge it in water. Even the smallest leak will have a clear trail of bubbles leading right to it, making a patch easy and simple to apply.
This simple idea is deceptively powerful.
When you don’t know where a leak is, that nearly invisible hole in your tire slows everything down. Instead of just enjoying the ride, you have to worry about whether you have enough air to reach your destination. You lose time reinflating the tire just for it to deflate again. And when it does deflate, it’s always at the worst time, leaving you stranded on the side of the road.
But when you follow the bubbles and apply the patch, that tire is as good as new, and hours of heartache and frustration disappear as soon as the glue dries.
Patch the Tire and Get Back on the Bike
The Habits of Health journey is a journey of self-discovery. When so much of our lives happens unconsciously in the backgrounds of our minds, making a mistake is an opportunity to learn more about yourself and how you interact with your world.
When you recognize that you made an unhealthy choice, trace the bubbles back to the source. What was really the cause of your emotional eating? What was the chain of events that made you feel the way you feel now?
The outcome that upsets you – like overeating – is the result of a problem in the way that a flat tire is the result of a leak. Yes, the flat tire is frustrating, but finding the leak is the real path forward.
This process can take practice, so talk to your coach if you aren’t sure where to look for solutions and feel free to ask our community as well.