Last month, in Part 1 of this 3-part series, I introduced a process called Rhythmic Alternation as a recipe for reducing the stress that we build around things we want to achieve. Rhythmic Alternation is about following your inner sense, inner guide to know what to do, and when. It asks you to choose to go where you genuinely have energy, and in doing so, to allow yourself to cycle away from, and later back to, the things you want to get done. No force. No push or pressure or strain.
And I heard the protests. They said something like this: “Not so fast, Lisa. What about things that we actually have to do? Like taxes. We can’t just flit around in a soft circle and finish them when the stars align. How do you do your taxes without stress, Mrs. Smarty Pants?”
Okay. Okay. I get it. There are things that need to get done. And there are times we just don’t want to do them. Yes. Absolutely. This is where I turn to Bob.
Bob is one of my spiritual teachers, and according to him, procrastination comes from us not experiencing the energy that we want (for example, joy or inspiration) when we think about the activity we would like to execute. When we think about a task, like doing our taxes, many of us think about the pain it will bring us.
But, what we focus on we create. So, if you’re focusing on “not wanting to do your taxes because it’s a dull and frustrating and confusing process,” you’re creating a situation in which doing your taxes will be a “dull and frustrating and confusing” experience. If you think about that often enough, with enough energy behind it, it will be very hard for you to have any other experience except dull and frustrating and confusing. The experience we have is one that we give ourselves.
By imagining this situation that we don’t want to have happen, we not only set ourselves up for this pain in the future, but we experience the misery we're trying to avoid — right then and there. Right in the moment that we’re thinking about it.
This is all great news! Instead of creating unconsciously, we can use this ability to “give ourselves an experience” that we want to have. In this instance, to give ourselves a better version of the experience than the one we had previously imagined.
When it comes to taxes, Bob starts this practice in February. On February 1, he starts practicing. He reaches for the experience he wants to have, by asking himself this simple question: What if I loved doing my taxes? What would that feel like?
From then on, each time he even thinks about the idea of doing his taxes, he consciously switches to this feeling of harmony and order and ease. To the experience of loving doing his taxes. The experience of them being simple and lightweight and fun.
He doesn’t try to imagine or visualize what that would look like, but practices feeling what it would feel like. Images may come, but he allows them to come to him from the beautiful energy. He does not impose an image or idea of what has to happen. He’s not trying to get the images to come to life, but to open the door for the energy to happen — whatever form that may take.
By the time March arrives, he finds that he actually wants to sit down and work on his taxes. And, of all things, it all works out with ease and balance and order and harmony.
Try this for yourself with any task you find yourself not wanting to do, but wishing you had finished. Start small and test it out. See what happens when you allow the door to open instead of trying to break down the wall.
I promise, it will not be dull for even a moment.
(A version of this article was originally published in the Redding Sentinel, Redding, CT. 2023.)