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Better Late than Never
In the chaos of school ending and kids’ schedules shifting, spring cleaning, and summer vacations, I managed to totally miss my self–imposed deadline for my Summer Newsletter.  When I realized I was a few weeks behind I initially tried to weasel out of my commitment to myself— ‘oh well, I’ll get back on track in the fall.’  I started my practice in 2006 and since that time I’ve been promising myself that I would consistently communicate with my mailing list.  It took until the winter of 2015 (yes, it was a New Year’s resolution!) for me to get into any sort of a consistent rhythm and by golly, I did it!  I’ve put out a quarterly newsletter ever since.  Until now.  Summer 2017, a year and a half later and here I am -- a failure, proving to myself that I just don’t have what it takes to maintain consistency.  To do what I need to do for the health of my business.
But here’s the thing – as provider who focuses heavily on lifestyle, lifestyle, lifestyle, I counsel my patients about this sort of “failure thinking” all the time.  We all miss deadlines, we all slip off of our meal plans or our exercise routines, we all forget (or ignore) the promises we make to ourselves. Once we remember them, we spend a little bit (or a lot) of time and energy beating ourselves up for our failures and then we move on – back to our old habits, convinced that we just aren’t good enough to do the thing we promised ourselves we would do. 
I often share a favorite phrase from the book Changing for Good by James O. Prochaska with my patients:  “A lapse is not a relapse.”  I advise them that smoking one cigarette after 6 months of abstinence doesn’t undo all the work that’s been done. Eating junk food while on vacation after 2 months of enjoying nutritious home-cooked meals is not a failure, nor even a significant set-back.  It’s just a lapse.  And lapses are normal, in fact they can even be a good growth experience.  Many patients, following a lapse, comment on how much worse they feel after stepping away from the positive changes they made.  The good news, I always remind them, is that they know how to feel better, and they can choose to get back on track at any moment.  How empowering!  A lapse is not relapse.
The secret is to see ourselves as who we want to be – I am a provider who puts out a quarterly newsletter – I just happen to be late this quarter.  This is so different from seeing myself as someone who is a perpetual procrastinator and can never follow-through with a plan.  So here I am on an August afternoon, putting together a letter I meant to get out in early July.  I bet most of you wouldn’t have even noticed it was late if I hadn’t said anything – and that’s how it goes for most of us.  We tend to be our own worst critics.  So whatever it is you’ve promised yourself you’re going to do better or differently, just keep doing it – old habits will throw you off track periodically but just roll with the punches.  Change is hard - be kind to yourself!

Robyn Jacobs

Copyright © 2017 Hygeia Optimal Health through Functional Medicine, All rights reserved.

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