The Art of the Talkdown

If you ask anyone, namely my parents and reference me from age 0-17 specifically, I am a MASTER in figuring out how NOT to do something. You name it; I’ll talk my way out of doing it. Literally anything, I can nix it. Sometimes this can be a handy little trick because, let’s be real, you can’t do EVERYTHING all the time and occasionally you really should talk yourself out of doing things. But more often than not, this little trick is nightmare fuel.

Part of “The Dirty 30” here is about growth and what I want to take with me into my third decade on this planet. Weirdly enough as I was typing that, I had the strongest déjà vu so maybe this isn’t my third decade on this planet after all. ANYWAY, what I was saying is that growth is an important part of my life that I want to focus on because I think there’s been a distinct lack of it in the last year and a half of my life. In order to grow, I’m going to have to give up the talkdown.

I fancy myself a pretty self-aware human so I’m going to admit to you now that I do this mostly out of self-preservation and only mildly out of general laziness. I want to spare myself the potential failure. And one (I) might argue that you can’t fail what you don’t start. But one (I) might also argue that not starting is in and of itself a failure. I rocked the first 28 years of my life operating mostly on the former and silencing the latter when it would rear its ill-timed head into my stream of consciousness. But the time has come to address this hindrance.

I suppose the only way to do something is to do it. That feels like a Yogi Berra quote but unfortunately, it’s just my own nonsense. Seriously though, I think the only way to takedown the talkdown is to just do it, Nike style. If there’s anything I’ve learned from my dabbling in various self-help books/memoirs/blog posts from people I find to be inspiring/etc it’s that lifestyle changes don’t happen overnight. If you want an actual change to take place in your life and in your lifestyle, you need to gradually and mindfully change.

I read somewhere that it takes the brain 21 days to set a habit but I call bullshit. I researched a bit more and found that the 21-day myth, as it’s often referred to now, was taken wildly out of context. {WARNING: things are going to get a little nerdy for a second.} It all started in the 1950’s with a plastic surgeon, Dr. Maxwell Maltz. He simply noted a pattern amongst his patients where they typically became used to their new features after about 21 days. He then translated that into areas of his own life and when he saw a continued pattern, he noted in a forthcoming book that it “requires a minimum of about 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to jell.” There’s where things took a turn. If you Google it, there are TONS of results and motivational quotes talking about how you can “change your habits in just 21 days!” or instructions on how to do so in, again, 21 days. But what Dr. Maltz actually said is that it required a MINIMUM of 21 days. And this isn’t me just talking myself out of changing a habit in merely 21 days. This is SCIENCE, guys! So, work with me here.