We all have them, our favorite pair of shoes. The ones that contour perfectly to our feet and keep those little sausages safely encased and comfortable. They are your go-to pair, the ones that leave the closet and rarely find their way back in.
Mine happens to be nude flats that turned three last Christmas. They have loyally served me as evidenced by the deep scuffs on the outer edges and fine wrinkles on an originally glossy finish. Truth be told they are just a few errands from becoming hole-y and not in a good way.
After some consistent effort on my part, I was able to locate a replacement pair in the exact brand and size. Thanks to eBay, nude flats version 2.0 were on their way. When they arrived in the mail I couldn’t help but gawk at how fresh they looked compared to my beloved set. I even showed my husband because of course, he would want to take in this mind-blowing observation, and he smiled and nodded his head as any kind but not that very interested husband would.
For weeks, I kept thinking I couldn’t wait to throw away my old run down flats. How nice it would be to have a brand new pair, hot off the shoe press, or whatever they make shoes on, but then something unexpected happened.
As I gingerly slipped the new pair on, I was immediately taken back. They were nowhere near as comfortable as my old pair.
The soles were rigid and stiff, and my toes were no longer wrapped in buttery softness.
Dare I say they were….uncomfortable even?
I quickly took them off and set them by my old pair in the closet.
“Maybe my old ones are actually better,” I thought.
“Maybe I could just keep wearing my old ones, and just lower my standards of shoe wear?” I wondered.
The old pair were just SO much more comfortable.
And then it hit me.
This last week I was battling some major negative thoughts. Sentences in my mind that have been repeating for decades and I have allowed to wrap comfortably snug around me. I was once again reminded of the stories I had created about who I was and what made me valuable. These were all thoughts that logically were covered in scuffs, holes, and wrinkles, evidence that they were a flawed foundation that never served me. After nearly 30 years, these thoughts needed to be replaced, yet I kept choosing to wear them anyways, because, well, they are my mind’s favorite go-to. They are “comfortable,” yet painfully lacking at the same time.
Our negative thoughts, beliefs, and stories about ourselves and life are just like my worn out shoes. They almost feel safe and like home, because they are what we’ve built our foundation on, what we’ve been accustomed to for so long. Anything else can seem very foreign to our minds, flat out just-not-possible, or couldn’t-be-true.
New thoughts that look starkly different from what we are used to are at first SO incredibly uncomfortable. Many times we just let them sit for a moment on our mind before kicking them off and sending them to the back of the closet. You know that place where all those shoes are that you can’t bear to donate yet, but you never actually use? That place. Some you might actually try on again for a few minutes here or there, just to throw them back once more. “They weren’t useful to begin with. Just a bad fit.”
The problem though wasn’t really with the new thought at all. Truth be told, we just want new beliefs to be comfortable NOW, and often we can’t stand to wait for that to happen.
Our brains are sometimes like your Great Aunt Myrtle. That sweet lady means well, but is stubborn as heck and just wants things the same no matter what. The same tv dinner, at the same time each night, while watching the same TV shows, sporting that same bufont hairstyle. Change for our brains equals our minds having to work harder, and be ok with a phase of discomfort, and no one’s got time for that. Not even Myrtle. So new thoughts will always feel a little off at first, and we might decide when things feel uncomfortable that it must mean that they just aren’t true or helpful after all. That my friend is where we get to make a choice.
Keep the old run down thoughts that are “comfortable” in the short term sense, and struggle whilst traversing the elements of life, or find a new belief that has the potential to fit and serve you, no matter the weather.
Make the decision up front to commit to these new sentences, even when they feel snug, stiff, and you wonder if you’re just kidding yourself. Challenge yourself to wear them for just a few minutes every day, wading in the expected discomfort bit by bit, and gradually increasing the time.
Eventually, the new thoughts will begin to soften and contour around your mind just as seamlessly as the old ones did, and imagine how much better off you will be in your new and improved kicks.