A+ Method™ – Step #4: Assure
So now you’ve been working on fully accepting yourself and your life circumstances. You’ve also become aware of how your body and mind react to your experiences, and you’ve discovered the most effective new habit for adaptation! Yay! Now you just have to carry it out!
This brings us to the fourth step of the A+ Method™: Assure.
Assurance isn’t just about choosing a new habit and sticking to it. It’s about putting safeguards into play to make sure our new habits are easy to remember and difficult to ignore.
Sometimes when we realize how well a new habit is working for us, we become really excited and motivated by the change. So much so, that we believe we’re going to just continue to employ our new habit with ease and consistency. But what about when we forget? What about when a major life event happens?
When setting goals, it’s very easy for us to become their own slave driver again. Focusing our eyes on the prize often highlights the space between where we are and where we want to be, which can easily ignite a sense of shame and unworthiness. The Assurance step helps users set up a “plan for failure” in order to bounce back immediately after a setback with a sense of self-compassion. It reminds them that any misstep is simply an opportunity to learn more about ourselves.
Assurance in Practice
The Assure step asks us three questions:
#1. How do I guarantee I’ll remember to engage in my new habit?
#2. What is the bare minimum I will do, no matter what the circumstances?
#3. How will I show myself self-compassion when I fail?
Let’s stick with Jenna from our last step. Jenna is ridiculously excited at how effective it was to eat dinner with the TV off. She tells everyone at work about it on Monday, and she’s still going strong on Friday. …But then the weekend comes along. She’s supposed to go out with friends for dinner Sunday night, but they cancelled at the last minute. Disgruntled and feeling lonely, she turns on the TV, pulls out her leftovers, and eats while watching all of the episodes she missed during the week.
Suddenly Jenna stops and realizes that she broke her new habit! Feeling frustrated, ashamed, and annoyed at herself that she couldn’t “remember something so simple,” Jenna beats herself up all night. The next morning she isn’t hungry again, so she skips breakfast before leaving for work. That night, she forgets again, and she tells herself that the new habit wasn’t even that helpful anyway.
With the Assure step, Jenna would have started her commitment by asking herself the first question: “How do I guarantee I’ll remember to engage in my new habit?” In a world of smartphones, calendar reminders, sticky notes, and alarms, she would have used every available anti-forgetting method she could think of. That way when the weekend came, she would have seen or heard her reminders as she sat down to turn on the TV around dinner time.
Then she would have asked herself the second question: “What is the bare minimum I will do, no matter what the circumstance?” Jenna decided that if she was feeling something so painful or disappointing that she wasn’t ready to deal with the emotions, she could mindfully allow herself to relax while watching tv and eating… IF she portioned out the food first so she couldn’t overeat and understood why she was making this choice.
While to some people this may look like an opportunity to make an excuse to revert slowly to the old habits, that actually rarely happens. By having a “bare minimum” in place for when life feels too overwhelming, Jenna is able to stay on the wagon instead of just falling off and giving up. Even if she’s holding on by a thread, she’s still making a positive change.
The last question Jenna would have asked herself is, “How will I show myself self-compassion when I fail?” This is of paramount importance because the A+ Method™ is not guilt or shame-driven. Shame and guilt cause stress, and this method is about reducing stress. Nevertheless, everyone feels bad when they fail or screw up. It’s how we show ourselves compassion for the failure that allows us to get back up and try again.
If Jenna had asked herself this question, she would have been prepared for the feelings that come along with inevitably forgetting her new habit. She would have developed a mini plan for how to react in those circumstances: such as allowing herself to be disappointed, followed by soothing herself with a warm bath, and giving herself permission to try again tomorrow.
It is with this fourth and final step in the A+ Method™ that we see the snowball effect of a small change into a major shift in life experience. It is here where we see people start to thrive and flourish in their lives.
But it doesn’t stop there. In order to continue honing the changes, we have to follow the feedback loop around again to accept how the new adaptation has affected our lives, become aware of our new emotions and physical changes, optimize the new habits, and make new commitments.
If you want to try the Innerform A+ Method™ but need some support, reach out to us to set up an Coaching Session with an Innerform Coach.