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The Adaptability Paradox

Before I start, I want to make a very important note that I have written the following purely from the perspective of an observant human being taking note of patterns and synchronicities. Nothing more nothing less. Please read on with a pinch of salt and know that this is purely my own opinion from the life I have led so far.

Being a human being can be rather difficult. We are blessed with incredibly complex brains that have the capacity to do so much and yet, we are ravaged by our incredibly complex brains that have the capacity to do so much!

It’s a paradox, on one side we are incredibly adaptable, we can bend and flex to suit our environment. We can shift to new ways of living quite easily, however, we are deeply habitual. Once we are in the new groove how hard is it to break the habit to adapt to something new?

This paradoxical thought came to me when I was working in a busy café in the Cayman Islands.

I have always been struck by how stressed people sometimes get when completing a simple task such as choosing a menu item, in a café that they have been into every day for the last 17 months. There was an interesting consistency, with a lot of regular customers, who would know exactly what they wanted, yet they would stand and stare at the menu for a while. Then they would exclaim triumphantly to the crowd of staff “I’m going to be adventurous today!!” So proud that they were going off piste. And then suddenly, they say “Who am I kidding? I’ll get my usual please.”

This would happen maybe 7-10 times a week! That’s a lot of people going through the same mental blockage to then end up at the same conclusion. I believe it is the fear of the unknown that led people down this procrastinatory path. They really do want to break out of the “norm” they want to be adventurous and try something new. Then the fear kicks in. What if I don’t like it as much as my usual? What it hurts my tummy? What if it doesn’t fill me up as much as my usual dish? How can I go on with my day if I am not satisfied in the same way as when I eat my usual dish!?!?!?!??!?!??

So, it got me thinking. How can we, as a species have come so far yet be crippled by this small decision-making process?

I personally thrive within the confines of a solid routine. I can get my mind and body into a glorious rhythm that keeps me well slept, well fed, and well exercised. Getting into that groove isn’t always (EVER) easy. It takes a lot of mental persistence to get the flow flowing. My routine is anchored in a healthy lifestyle. That includes time for creativity, exercise, working, cooking healthy meals, and socialising. HOWEVER, I can’t say it loud enough, IT IS HARD!!

It is difficult to have the self-discipline to do ALL these things ALL the time. No one should be chastised for not being able to get a handle on all these aspects of life. It is hard. Especially with social media making everyone’s lives look perfect. We as millennials know this isn’t the truth but it still takes effort to shake the feeling of not being good enough. I can’t imagine that kind of pain for the teens growing up today. (This is another conversation for another time)

What I think, what I really truly think our downfall is; It’s that life became too comfortable too quickly and our central nervous systems have not caught up. On an evolutionary note, we evolved too quickly for our own brains to catch up. We are supposed to be thinking about predators and base survival tactics.

I think it’s one of the reasons why it can be easy to get stuck in a constant state of fight or flight. To unpick the synapses that create this sense of impending doom is tough to impossible without some serious work. Our brains organise information in ways that we are only just beginning to understand. So feel calmed, it is not your fault. We are too complex for our own good. AND we are all in this together. Anyone in your life who looks like they have their shit together is just as confused and mixed up as you. They just happen to be doing it in a fancy blouse.

Here we are, adapting, surviving, making things happen. It’s a miracle to me that anyone in this modern world has the energy and clarity to put their clothes on and go out every day. I tip my hat to each and everyone of you.

To echo my opening statements; (not that it isn’t obvious) I am not a psychologist or a neural expert in any way. All I have done, is noted the quirky and interesting observations through the eyes of an empath on a quest for an easy life.

Don’t let the crippling fear of stepping out of your comfort zone or your engrained habits stop you from achieving greatness. It is scary, but that’s what makes it so good. Nothing compares to that feeling you get just before you take the leap.

I am so lucky to have full use of my body and mind, I will do everything I can to keep them in top notch condition for the rest of my time as a human being. For now, that is what I can control, and I urge you to make steps to lessen the fear, let go of the anguish, turn your anxiety into productivity. I promise you it can be done, and the results will be astounding.

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