Dip Happens—What Do We DO When Nothing Seems To Change?
Often I blog about things I am going through. Sometimes just writing things down, sketching out a plan of action, recalibrating MY perspective helps a lot. Hey, if nothing else, I have a blog post 😀 .
Lately, I’ve been in what Seth Godin calls…The DIP. In fact, I am even talking about The Dip over on my Dojo Diva blog for those who want more (and also a better chance of winning my 20 Page Death Star Critique).
What is THE DIP? The Dip is that span of suck before the breakthrough. The Dip is where character develops, where dreams grow, where WE grow. Bad news is this is also the place where most people give up.
I’d love to say I’ve never given up when faced with a particularly tenacious Dip, but I am a terrible liar. Dips are tough. Why are Dips so hard?
Dips Come Out of Nowhere
We are zooming along and then it is as if an invisible force field comes out of nowhere. Maybe you started eating healthy and were losing weight steadily. Then…nothing. Another week? Nothing. Another week, I gained three pounds? WTH? And another and another and pretty soon, why bother?
A little story…
Before I got pregnant, I was 130 pounds and a Size 2. When I was pregnant, I did two-a-days the entire time I was pregnant. I did step aerobics in the morning (which was nothing short of comedic when I was almost 10 months in) and swam a mile a day, six days a week even though I felt like I should be a show at Sea World. The night they induced me, I stopped at the gym and did an hour workout before Hubby took me to the hospital.
Eleven days after having The Spawn, I was back in the gym. I’d get up for the 3:30 a.m. feeding then go to the 24-hour gym.
For the most part, I have still kept a strict diet and exercise regimen.
These days I do 6-8 hours of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu a week…and am STILL a size 10-12. No matter how disciplined I am, it doesn’t seem to want to show on the outside. We go to restaurants and I watch people eat onion rings and fried cheese and have dessert while I am GF, dairy-free, low-carb, soy-free, no sugar, etc. etc. I drink water, not soda. And yet?
Sometimes I wonder why I bother.
This is the first main problem with The Dip. Sometimes, we can’t figure out why it is there or worse…why it won’t GO AWAY. After blood panels and doctors and experts, they all agree. I am the picture of health, but am overweight.
We might be doing something GREAT that shows nothing on the outside. Granted, I might be a fluffy size 10-12 for the rest of my life. I have amazing flexibility, can run for miles, can outfight and outlast teenagers and my heart and insides are amazing.
Funny, though. I rarely think of my shining cholesterol levels when I have to shrug into Spanx.
I wonder how many calories we burn trying to put on Spanx?
The next problem with The Dip is there are often others who will rub salt in the wound that we are IN The Dip.
On Saturday, I went for an hour of rigorous BJJ training, ran home, cleaned up then attended a 2.5 hour Judo workshop that I paid for. I was feeling pretty good about myself until…
I was in the middle of learning a new throw and could tell I wasn’t pivoting my weight the correct direction. Sure I was throwing my sparring partner, but I was landing in the wrong spot. The teacher comes over and tells me I am doing it all wrong.
Okay, I KNEW that.
But then, he tells me that I need to work out more. That the reason I can’t do the throw is that my legs are weak and then says, “Have you thought about going to a gym? Maybe trying some squats?”
*suppresses urge to stab him in the face*
He corrects my posture and the next throw I did? I nailed it. He probably could tell from the look on my face that I might have been envisioning him.
Of course, Judo is all about physics, not about strength. I didn’t point that out. I also didn’t point out that the rest of the attendees had slept in while I was one of the handful who came to the early morning class anyway (even when I knew there were 2.5 hours of additional training ahead). I also didn’t point out what should have been obvious. I was the only older female in the workshop and if the sport wanted to attract more like me? Insinuating we are out of shape is a bad plan.
After the Judo workshop, we had a family day at the zoo and all I wanted was to throw in the towel and eat all I have denied myself for a decade…in ONE day.
I know you guys probably have no idea what I am talking about 😉 .
The Dip is REALLY common in writing. You are working on a novel and it is going great and then? You get stuck. You KNOW you are stuck. Maybe you can’t even figure out WHY you are stuck. Then, when you are about to tap out for good and OD on brownies, someone in your life is there to point out that “Maybe you just aren’t trying hard enough…”
Yeah, because we didn’t already think of that.
Some Important Things to Know About Dips
First of all, people who don’t attempt anything remarkable, never have Dips. Thus, if we are experiencing Dips, it means we are still pressing for something better. The only way to get out of ever dealing with Dips is to just drift along on the tides of mediocrity and ambivalence. Don’t know about you guys, but I can’t do that. This means I have to take my own advice and Suck it up, Buttercup.
The second thing is that we can more painfully feel Dips when we get our focus on the wrong things. If we stare at Dips we get intimidated. This is partly why I refuse to get on a scale. I found myself obsessing too much. Yes, I would love to trim down and get into my “skinny” clothes, but is that my only objective behind eating and living healthy?
I am extremely fit. Working out helps me release stress. I look far younger than peers because I am healthy. My family is all involved working out together. Spawn learned to walk in the gym nursery. Now? We do martial arts SIX days a week together. Spawn has been sick ONE TIME in his entire life because I cook super healthy foods. He has to be told to stop eating so many vegetables and eat some protein.
Am I willing to abandon ALL those other benefits because ONE objective—trimming down in size—refuses to cooperate?
Same with writing. For years I blogged to The Great Nothing. At first, I did it to get “views” but after a year and a half of blogging to the male-enhancement bots, I got seriously discouraged.
Since I’d invested too much to give up, I decided to focus instead on ALL the benefits of blogging that had nothing to do with outside approval.
I learned to write leaner, meaner, faster and cleaner. I learned to eat deadlines for breakfast. I became a better writer because I was TRAINING. I learned to be self-motivated and self-disciplined. Granted, even if NO ONE ever cared about my blog, these traits would serve me well in other areas.
Of course, eventually, when I got my eyes off the numbers and focused on what I COULD control, THIS happened. Can anyone see THAT DIP? When I finally busted past it?
The last things we need to appreciate about Dips is that they are not permanent but yet they are.
One Dip alone is not permanent, but The State of Dippery is. Yes, DIPPERY. It is a word 😛 . Unless we give up, we will face more Dips and bigger and longer Dips.
For instance, as writers, a common first Dip is to finish the book. YAY! Then the next Dip. Getting published. Oh, if I could just be published, THEN I’d be happy. We get published and the next Dip is BOOK SALES. Then there is the next book and the next…and you guys get the point.
I’m not here to discourage you, but we cannot exist in a permanent state of happiness and satisfaction. It is a brief moment of sun and then? Back to work. Anyone who promises us a Dip-Free life is lying and probably selling something…like DRUGS.
Dips suck. They are long and painful and necessary. Dips weed out the uncommitted. Many people will give up on something remarkable because there is no instant payoff. Can we still LOVE writing when there is no outside evidence we are going to gain? Can we still keep eating healthy and exercising even if we never get to wear skinny jeans?
NO! Wait, okay fine *rolls eyes* I’ll keep pressing *grumbles*.
Dips make us value what we EARN. One of the reasons I get frustrated with our Everyone is a Winner Society is that is dilutes the genuine feelings of authentic achievement. A black belt is only valuable when it took years of sacrifice (busting past Dips) to earn it.
Dips train us for the mentality of the successful. Often others see what we have. They don’t see what we gave up to get it. And that is the reality of things. Successful people “get” Dips while others give up. In fact, I would be so bold as to say that most of the successful writers I know aren’t necessarily all that more talented, but they are far more tenacious.
When we face Dips, outside circumstances may never change, but we will.
Dips teach us to ignore outside opinions. Where would I have been had I listened to all the people who told me blogging was dead and that it was impossible to be a successful writer? We can choose to take that pushback as an excuse to quit or fire to fuel us forward.
Yes, I am frustrated with a LOT of Dips in my life, namely the “weight thing.” But am I going to let one outside jerk opinion derail me?
No. And the reason is that I have had extensive and intensive Dip Training 😉 .
Tips for Busting Through the Dips
Remember the WHYs. Why are you doing whatever? Why are you correcting your kids when it feels like you just repeat yourself a million times? Why are you eating healthy? Why are you writing that novel? Focus on the why. If we write books simply to become millionaires? Could happen, but burnout probably more likely. Instead, focus on how much you LOVE writing. How much you LOVE your kids. How much you LOVE feeling good because you drank water instead of a 2 liter bottle of Diet Coke.
Baby steps ARE steps. Never underestimate the value of simply showing up. Every sentence is one step closer to a finished book. Small actions over time DO add up.
Remember “Dip Happens.”
If we know that Dips are inevitable, we are more mentally prepared for the challenge. It is more a sign we are doing something right than a great cosmic plot against our happiness.
I hope you guys feel more encouraged. Remember that the summit is only that beautiful because of the climb.
What are your thoughts? Have you been in some Dips lately? Are you feeling like it will never END? Did you know that this was natural? If not, do you feel a little better about being stuck? Do you have those around you rubbing in that you are in a Dip? Have you ever made it past some particularly tenacious Dip and are better for it? What was it? Share your story! We need the encouragement!
I love hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of APRIL, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook.