I know a German man who grew up in Germany and lived there until he was eighteen. From the age of eighteen to the present day, in his thirties, he’s lived outside of Germany. You know what he told me, once? That he’s forgotten a decent chunk of spoken German. He never thinks in it or dreams in it. When he runs into another German, it takes him a few moments to get going.

Yes, that’s right–you can speak a language every day of your life for eighteen years, even during those crucial formative years where neurological wires are fusing, and still–if you don’t practice regularly? Things un-fuse.

Nothing is self-sustaining. Marriages don’t survive on a bit of effort put in once; they require ongoing nurturance. No one eats once a day and then says, “Ah, yes, I’m done for the day.” Pro-athletes who are immensely gifted cannot simply lie back and rest on their natural talent.

How to Lose the “It”

With that said–I’ll tell you how to lose, and lose big every time: buy the book, take the workshop, resolve to stop doing XYZ, and then decide that whatever gifts it gave you, “it doesn’t last.”

What’s underneath “it doesn’t last”? “It’s not enough.”

The reasoning goes that if it were enough, if the workshop or book or coach or whatever were *truly* effective… “it” would have lasted.

If I believe that, I’m in the hell of my own choosing. I’ve set myself up to lose: if I don’t do the work, I feel bad because I’m not doing the work, and if I do do the work, I feel bad because I decide that “it doesn’t last” and the experience is only worthy in proportion to how long it lasted.

By the way–what’s “it”?

The sense of connection to ourselves.

What’s Obvious is Not Obvious

This is one of those strange topics where “everyone knows this, already.”

“Kate, everyone knows this, already–that they have to practice regularly. Duh.”

Everyone “knows this, already,” but it’s impossible for the self-help market to be the gazillion dollar industry it is if people “really know that” they can’t expect permanent fixes.

Whatever work one is doing to stay connected with themselves, that work needs regular care. We are living, breathing things, and everything that is living and breathing needs some kind of care.

Tap the Goods You Got

I’d like to invite everyone reading this to stop and think for a moment about the last great non-fiction book they read that was a personal growth or development persuasion. Have you really kept up with the practices introduced to you in that book?

How about workshops? Are you still aligned with the energy that you left that workshop with? (P.S. There’s a reason that the term “workshop high” exists).

What about the last retreat you went on? Were you relaxed coming out of the retreat? Are you still as blissed out and connected, now?

–and if you’re not, why not?

The truth is that that book, workshop, or retreat–it gave you nothing.

You gave you, to yourself.

You gave yourself the openness to take into your heart the ideas in that book.

You gave yourself the permission to live in a high-vibration when you were at that workshop.

You gave yourself the gift of allowing and non-attachment that had you so relaxed at that retreat.

You’ve got to keep on being open, giving yourself permission, and releasing and not getting attached, in order for that flow to continue.

Here’s More Obvious

Life is an ebb/flow equation, of course. We’ll all inevitably be open, give ourselves permission, release–and then one day, find that “it doesn’t work.”

Nah. Stop. Do you see how much suffering will await you if you head towards that road? (Do you see how it’s a choice to head in that direction?)

It’s not that “it’s not working.” It’s more like new circumstances are called for. New challenges are ahead.

With those challenges, new growth. You’re a living, breathing organism and you were meant to grow, not hunker down into a squat with the same old day-to-day.

And just notice how as soon as you think, “It doesn’t last,” and then decide that “That’s not true; I’ve changed and life has changed, and I now need to get curious as to what will reconnect me with myself in this new context,”

–it’s a whole different game of life that you’re playing. New opportunities, new places where you’ll shift and stretch and move, to experience being open, permissive, and releasing in an entirely different way.

Even More Good News

If it’s true that that which we want to keep in our lives will need some care, then this is also true:

That which we do not want in our lives can recede when we stop giving it care.

We give our negative criticism “care” when we continue to “practice” negative internal criticism, or criticism of others. We can practically make stuckness a houseguest when we decide that rather than doing anything…we’ll watch more television.

If you want more of something in your life, especially more of whatever you got from that book, workshop, retreat, coach, therapist, friend, etc., then cultivate it by offering it care. Provide the conditions for it to thrive and flourish.

If you want less of something in your life, stop providing such fertile ground for it to flourish.

Seems impossible? But consider this–my German friend has forgotten vast chunks of the language he grew up with. Really think about the magnitude of that! You probably cannot imagine forgetting vast chunks of English, but if you weren’t practicing it consistently, of course it would start to break up and become spotty (if you’re truly interested in the science behind this language phenomenon, read the book “Dreaming in Hindi”).

Start now, by not providing a second more fertile ground for any thoughts that “it won’t happen” for you.

You are who you say you are.