Have you ever watched a kid learn to skateboard?
They take so many runs at it, and so many falls. But when they are determined, they somehow keep getting back up and trying again. Eventually, they are zooming around the parking lots with looks of glee on their faces.
How many times are you willing to try a new practice before you quit? In my work, I see a lot of people make attempts to bring in a new mental habit.
Let me tell you about the critical place where they fail:
It’s in the number of tries they make in each attempt.
Most people give a mental practice—like comforting their inner child—a single try, then get lost or frustrated or encounter inner resistance, then give up.
Maybe they will do another attempt on another day, but in that next attempt, it will still be just one try. One run at getting up on the skateboard.
Imagine trying to learn to skateboard by getting out on the parking lot, stepping on the board, wobbling and falling off one time, then going back in the garage and putting the board away.
Then doing the same thing on a day a few weeks later. Just giving one try per attempt. You’d decide skateboarding was impossible, wouldn’t you?
You’d say, “I’m just not built that way.” Other people can do it, but there must be something wrong with me. “Or maybe you’d blame the activity itself. “I don’t think skateboarding actually works. People can’t balance on a board on wheels!”
Skateboarding is something that can be physically demonstrated, so kids and adults can see others learning it and doing it. But inner mental work is invisible.
You don’t know what the learning practice of it looks or feels like until you’re doing it yourself. There’s no way to observe other people practicing and failing and getting up again.
That’s why I woke up with the insight recently that I needed to share this with you — it takes an average of four tries PER attempt to make a difference in your inner work.
Four tries per “sit” on a meditation cushion.
What might be different for your inner practice if you could assume ahead of time that you’re going to need to take four runs at each attempt to hug your inner child before something will click?
My secret to my successful inner work is that a part of me just gets stubborn about it. I believe a practice will work if I’ve learned it from a reliable source, and I’m just gonna keep taking runs at it (making subtle adjustments each time) until I get it.
There’s nothing wrong with you. It’s supposed to be hard. Keep trying anyway.
By the way, this is part of why I created my six-month group program. Because it GIVES you the time and space you need to practice your inner work and actually start to own the skills. Learn more about Soul School here.