Healthy Routines Feeling like a Challenge?

By Caley Philipps May 25, 2015

If you’re anything like me you know in your head that good things come through repetition.

You know, practice.

And yet repetition/routines are so hard to get yourself to do. And even harder to stick to. Like last week….

It was beautiful totally sunny spring day in Seattle and I was cruising down the road. Declaring out loud (in my car, where it’s safe) that everything about me is getting better and better.

I said it maybe 12 or 15 times when I started singing it. Just for fun. And, like a huge raincloud seemingly out of nowhere, my inner monologue took a dark, dark turn.

Yep. Shame crashed the party.

So while I was singing on the outside, on the inside, my inner critic was screaming, “What the eff is wrong with you?!” And then it hit me. A total light bulb moment.

THIS is why repetition is so hard.

See, as kids we love repetition! We repeat everything. Questions, colors, numbers, name, jokes, dance moves- you name it. Why? ‘Cause it feels good.

(Yep. It’s that simple.)

BUT what it feels like to be around this repetition, well….that’s not so good. So naturally– maybe even rightfully– our parents tell us to knock it off. Sometimes not very kindly.

They might yell. Name call. Shame. And question, “What is wrong with you?!?”

And suddenly it feels like you’ve poked an angry bear. In an instant that once great feeling of repetition turns to DANGER! We shut down. Get quiet + small. And promise never to do that again.

Especially when we’re tender, caring and empathetic by nature. We’re already naturally inclined to put others first. Automatically tuned in to what others feel. (Like anger.) And often our identity + confidence come from our ability to give. So that parental unloading feels like a shot to the heart.

Fast-forward 20 years.

We want to create self-care routines that feel good. Something like working out, sleeping enough, writing a blog, reciting affirmations or meditating. And it feels so. Freaking. Hard.

Like we’re tempting another shot to the heart. Because now repetition triggers shame. Now repeating things that feel good takes you right back to being that helpless kid poking an angry bear. It feels like you’re totally doing something wrong. Like you’re putting yourself in danger. Like you’re selfish to even want to feel good.

So you do what “good girls” do. You stop focusing on you. And quickly move yourself back to the bottom of the list.

Here’s the thing my empathetic friends:

This challenge you’re facing isn’t about who you are.

It’s not that you’re lazy, worthless or not good enough.

It’s not even something you’re doing wrong.

It’s just that your body learned long ago exactly what happens when you poke that particular bear.

And you’re keeping your promise to never ever do that again.

Now it’s your turn. Here are some questions to finally start facing your angry bear:

What routines have I been avoiding?
1) How do I feel, in my body, when I think about setting up these routines?
2) Knowing what I now know about shame + routines do these feelings make more sense?
3) Am I willing to lean into this discomfort, to face this angry bear?
4) How can I remind myself what’s really happening when I’m feelin’ the bear attack?
5) What support do I need (from myself or others) as I learn to dance with this particular bear?

*This post was originally published on Caley’s website, Caley Phillips. For more from Caley visit

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