15 February 2011

5 ways to overcome ‘shoulda-coulda-just can’t seem to go green’ mental blocks

Every year, you tell yourself that you’re finally going to do it. Enough pussy-footing around – this time, you’re really going to take the green bull by the horns! No more excuses, no more procrastination…just pure, unadulterated eco-friendly living. You don’t even need a refresher course on why it’s a smart move for your family, your bank account or the environment. All systems are a go! You’re pumped, you’re amped and you’re ready to take the world by storm.…but somewhere along the line, that ‘yayyyyy team’ eco-momentum never quite takes off and before you realize what happened, you’ve just put a new 12-month calendar up on your wall.

No need to hang your head in shame. None of us are perfect, but the fact that you’ve gone beyond the first paragraph of this article means that you’re sincere about wanting to make a positive change in your life. It’s going to be alright, and you know why? Because we’re going to fake out your mind. Seriously. We’re going to pull the wool over your noggin’s hyper-analytical ‘eyes’.

When the brain works with us, it can be a tremendous ally -- fighting disease, achieving glorious milestones, etc. -- but we can’t always expect it to bring its “A” game. There are certain occasions when doubt creeps in and then – oh lordy – let the obsessing begin. That’s the point when a quicksand-like fear begins to immobilize us, followed by a highly effective bout of procrastination which then finally morphs into a self-defeating ‘now’s not the ideal time to pursue this goal’ resolve.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Living in a more eco-friendly manner truly is ridiculously easy -- all we need to do is get your brain on board (or at least point it the right direction…preferably toward the green light). These 5 simple tips should make the ‘eco’ finally cozy up to your lifestyle without that big grey think tank in your head putting the kibosh on your goals.


Tip #1: Stop Thinking and Start Doing.

Aw jeeze. I’m going to have to collect a bazillion recyclable containers and eat more tofu and ride a flipping bicycle to the store and give up Clorox (even though I can’t imagine anything else getting my duds quite as white) and – gulp – stop using plaaaaastic wraaaaap. Why oh whyyyyyy does Mother Nature want me to suffer this wayyyy??!?!?

Come on, now. Stop your belly-aching. Turn off the chatter in your brain because – yes – you have the power to flip that switch, and just make the green finally happen (**it doesn’t even have to be an ALL or NOTHING scenario**). Your brain is convincing you that there are soooo many steps to follow in order to make your new eco-friendly lifestyle work, when in fact, once you get the hang of it, the process will be just like blinking your eyes. (Hmmm, and you never think about that, do you?) Exactly. It’s time to show that mind of yours who’s really boss.

Tip #2: Psyche Yourself Into A Daily Green Ritual.

Are you the type of person who wakes up in the morning and absolutely dreads following through on particular responsibilities? Like carrying your reusable bags to the grocery store? Really. REALLY?!?! Think about it for a moment. What is soooo hard about taking an extra second to plunk 6 reusable bags onto the passenger seat next to you? Are you kidding? It’s a cinch. You didn’t have to SPIN the bags on a loom with your own reclaimed PET plastic fiber, either… you merely have to remember to carry them with you.

This is probably the ideal time to pinch yourself and recognize how blessed you are to have access to an infinite arsenal of handy green tools...many within arms reach. Perhaps adopting a greater appreciation for how easy you really do have it will help you to skip along your merry eco-way and embrace a ‘yes I CAN!’ attitude. You won’t know until you try...so do it. Nowwww!

Tip #3: Ease Into Your ‘Greening’ Slowwwly.

One thing that the subconscious hates is feeling overwhelmed by multiple tasks – even if those perceived responsibilities aren’t exactly taxing in real life. If you find that despite your best intentions, your brain is getting the best of you and causing you to seriously drag your heels on the eco-front, there’s a quick fix that you might want to consider. Don’t go full throttle. It’s okay -- the world isn’t going to crumble around your ankles if you take your sweet time.

For some people, it takes a while for habits to stick, and this is one instance where adopting one new green habit each month…or week…or day can really go a long way toward helping you to gain your long-term momentum. As Aesop’s tortoise demonstrated, slow and steady still wins the race.

Tip #4: Envision Your Success.

Oh, you think this is a goofy suggestion, ay? You don’t have to be a proponent of motivational mumbo-speak to recognize the merit in simply just believing. Nine times out of ten, it miraculously always ends up helping you to achieve your goals. I defy anyone to argue that visualizing life accomplishments coming to fruition is a bad or even unrealistic exercise…and why should they be reserved exclusively for career-themed hopes?!? If you sincerely want to green it like you mean it, keep your end goal in mind at all times – I am certain that it will motivate you to take consistent real-world actions.

Tip #5: Keep A ‘Green Goal’ Journal.

So your mind really isn’t cooperating with you. Been there…and it can be incredibly frustrating. Why should you resign yourself to defeat, though, when you can take it up a notch by making a regular date with your journal? (Sounds…um…swell. Don’t-cha have a better suggestion?) Hang on…hear me out. We all need reinforcement from time to time. A swift little kick in the derriere that screams, “YOU WANTED THIS, DAGNAMMIT!!” If everything else you’ve tried to be a good green citizen has failed miserably, then pull out the flipping journal (yes, every day) and scribble down a few motivational thoughts that will keep your eco-fires stoked.

This won’t be a life-long exercise, I assure you, but it will be a means to an end. If the mere thought of writing even one sentence repulses you, then shake it up by cutting ‘green living’ images out of recycled magazines, instead. The whole point is that you’ll revisit your imagined eco-goals day in and day out until – ideally – they’ll finally leap off of the page and into your reality. That’s what you really want, right?

Elizah Leigh | @elizahleigh
Elizah Leigh's master's degree in education combined with her passion for the written word and deep-seated interest in environmental issues has proven to be the ideal trifecta for her present status as a green journalist. Currently commissioned to write a reference book on vegetarianism, Elizah hopes to inspire people through her words. Follow Elizah on Facebook.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/doyoubleedlikeme