In order become more flexible, it helps to first recognize and record situations where you most frequently try to steer the ship. Observing your own inflexible behavior lets you notice those situations where you could sometimes stand back a bit and let others take the lead. At this point, you’re not trying to change your behavior; you're simply becoming aware of the points in your day where you could opt to be less rigid. Jot down these situations for future reference.
Practice Flexible Actions
You know that practicing yoga, stretching after workouts and getting regular massages can all help your body become more flexible. Of course, we’re not talking about physical flexibility in this instance, but many of the same philosophies apply to your mental behaviors.
In yoga, if you want to really get a good stretch and build strength, you’ve got to come to class regularly and practice your postures, continuously pushing yourself a little further. Similarly, if you want to maintain a mellow attitude, you’ve got to practice stretching beyond the normal limits of your mental flexibility. For example, if you’re constantly cleaning up the kitchen and bathroom before you leave for work, you can practice your flexibility a few mornings a week by leaving the breakfast dishes in the sink and the bathroom counter a mess. If you’re the one that always makes the weekly date night plans, let your hubby know that you’re leaving this week’s reservations up to him. Each time you stretch and try a new way of interacting with your environment, you become more flexible and it becomes easier to let go. Again, as it is in yoga, so it can be in life!
Set Small Goals for Mental Stretching
Once you’ve spent some time observing and tracking your inflexible behaviors and you’ve started to practice being flexible in certain situations throughout your day, the next step is to set small goals for mental stretching. Great runners set weekly mileage goals when they’re training for a marathon. Successful dieters set reasonable targets for steady weight loss each week. If you want to keep up your motivation and see change quickly, choose how many times you’ll be flexible throughout your day or week, write down your goal and post it where you can see it.
How will you know whether your habits are really improving? Make sure to track your practice. Jot it down in your planner. Text or email yourself a quick note. Make a chart and stick it on the fridge (after all, you love charts!). As you see your behaviors moving toward that goal line each week, you’ll know that you’re moving toward a lasting change.