Becoming Less Rigid and More Flexible

Although structure, organization, and consistency are highly encouraged, there can come a point where we go a little overboard and become rigid and inflexible. You may have heard the words “control freak” or “uptight” used to describe this phenomenon. Unfortunately, people that have a controlling and inflexible nature often find themselves frustrated and let down. The reason this happens is because everyone else is not living by your rules. For example, just because you want all the food lined up in the refrigerator, does not necessary mean that the rest of your family wants it that way. Basically, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment because the world is not able to meet all of your expectations.

So how do we find balance? The best thing you can do is to maintain structure and organization, but at the same time allow for some flexibility, spontaneity, and differences of opinions. The following are some ways to practice increasing your flexibility.

  1. Try new things. Try anything that you have not tried before. It can be a new food, sport, type of movie, deodorant, anything! The point is to get your brain used to doing things that are different. This will also help you to tackle the unexpected and probably open up some new fun experiences in your life.

  2. Mix it up. Look at what you do exactly the same every single time. Do you do it this way for a reason, or is it just habit? Practice doing things a little different. For example, drive a different way to work and check out the new scenery, do laundry on Tuesday instead of Friday, or skip yoga and do a spinning class instead. Show yourself that you can do things differently and nothing disastrous will happen.

  3. Go with the flow. This one might be a bigger challenge, but allow others to do the planning. For example, if you are the one that plans nights out or dictates the way things need to be done around the house, try to give your partner a turn. For example, have a day where your partner gets to plan everything for the day without your opinion. It is also a great way to see how it feels to be on the other side.

  4. Catch yourself. Monitor what you think and say while looking for specific words such as “can’t,” “shouldn’t,” or “not right.” These words are red flags that you are moving into rigid territory. Practice using some new vocabulary like “let’s see,” “let’s find out,” “I’m not sure,” or “what do you think?” This allows for exploration and openness rather than rigidness.

  5. Practice. Just like you have to practice stretching your muscles to become more physically flexible, we need to do the same thing to become mentally flexible. The more you can challenge yourself to be spontaneous and allow for some new experiences, the easier it will be to integrate into your everyday life!