Tue, July 23

‘Up and down the staircase’

Marta Adelsman, Psy.D.

Marta Adelsman, Psy.D.

You’re probably familiar with how lobsters pull another lobster, trying to escape its confines, back down into the tank. Like lobsters, our unwanted behavior patterns can drag our New Year intentions-for-good back into the tank of poor habits, dissatisfaction and mediocrity. Once we launch ourselves into actions that hold the promise of health, freedom and abundance, how do we maintain them?

I have a habit that holds me back from experiencing my best self. I become distracted by my inner emotional life, causing me to disrupt or put off important work- and health-related tasks. Instead of staying in consistent action toward something I want to accomplish, I interrupt myself to indulge my feelings through journaling or talking about them. My personality believes my emotions ARE me, so of course they distract me big time.

I have an antidote to this pattern. I imagine I’m standing on a staircase with my goal of steady action at the top, and my habit of procrastination at the bottom. I’m on this one step, chugging along in my life, happy doing what I imagine helps to manifest the future I desire. Without warning, my emotional world pulls at my concentration and threatens to topple it.

I am now in what I call a Moment of Choice (MOC). I have two possible ways to go. 1) I can choose to stay in action toward my goal, realizing my emotions are NOT me and can wait. Or 2) I can indulge them and allow them to tear me away from my project.

If I drop my guard and go unconscious around this pattern, I allow the latter to happen. I have thus moved myself down one step on the staircase toward my habit of procrastination. If I choose to keep at my task, I move myself one step up the staircase toward my goal.

Life contains a series of MOCs. Moving up more often than down, I eventually reach that goal. Moving down more often than up, I will eventually slide right back into the tank. If I mix them up – moving up and down equally – I stay where I am, going nowhere.

In 2018, whatever the habits or indulgences you have that don’t serve you, reaching your desired outcome hinges on the small, moment-by-moment choices you make along the way. These choices often require courage. In the process of moving up, sharp claws of self-doubt, guilt and discouragement snap at you and try to pull you down.

Make the choice anyway. Stop putting off your joy. If you keep on unflinchingly—no matter what—you reach the top of the staircase.

You have escaped the tank!

Dr. Marta is a writer and coach, practicing in the Verde Valley. To leave comments or make an appointment, contact her at or 928-451-9482.