There is forever going to be people claiming to have the secret to weight loss – the special diet, the ultimate fitness program, the perfect pill. If you want to lose weight it is easy to be drawn in by the lure of the easier or “only” way to get it right. The reality is that without addressing all the mental aspects of weight loss in conjunction with our attention to diet and exercise we may never achieve our aspirational goals.
I have worked with thousands of people and learnt a lot about the impact of our thinking on our ability to lose weight. It took a very short amount of time when I started overcoming my own blocks to being a healthy weight, to realise that you have to give your mindset some serious attention. I now know in helping others to succeed in achieving their health outcomes that we need to start with bringing our awareness what to what we are not currently attending to. What we pay attention to determines what we get and conversely, what we pay attention to determines what we miss.
If you ignore what is going on in your head, what actually happens is that your poor old self esteem keeps getting a whack every time you make an attempt and don’t succeed. Over time you start to build that sense of hopelessness, your self-critic kicks in and the sense of failure just gets you further and further from the motivation to stick to the diet and get off your butt and move.
Trust me I know and have been there! You beat yourself up and lose the ability to step back and see what is keeping you in the cycle of frustration and failure. Alternatively, you don’t beat yourself up, you just deny it is possible to change because you have tried and it hasn’t worked so just stay in denial about what it is you are doing, or not doing that makes things how they are.
Your denial and lack of accountability to yourself keeps that belief that “this is how it is” or more problematically, “this is how I am” deeply entrenched, and stops anything from being different.
If this all seems familiar to you and you feel like you are on that merry-go-round, it is time to take charge of understanding your mindset and build a new way of thinking and relating to yourself.
Only then will you start to notice how your direction changes and by putting your attention to different aspects of your thinking you start to experience different results and the whole process of rejuvenation begins.
Today is the day to begin exploring your own thinking and we are going to give you some insight into how. One of the first personal development workshops I did many years ago suggested we be guided by a couple of simple principles. They suggested not to take these principles as truths but as principles to explore. This opened up my world to a whole new way of thinking and the freedom of knowing that if you want choice then create it! I will share with you 3 principles (I apologise for not being able to know exactly who to attribute these to originally as numerous developers of Neuro Linguistic Programming in the 1970s claim them!)
1. There is no such thing as failure, only feedback
2. Everything is exactly as it should be
3. Underlying every negative emotion or behaviour is a positive intention
Let’s start with applying the first principle – there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. Rather than getting on the scales, despairing that they have gone up not down and then flopping down on the couch to listen to your inner critic declare ‘It’s no use, you may as well just pour that wine and eat that cake’ STOP!! Reflect on how you are feeling and what you did the day before and acknowledge what that was and is. At this point I am just saying to acknowledge it – no judgements, no despair, just recognition and reflection and later I will give you some hints on how to reflect on that in a more structured way.
The second principle also relates to acceptance. Take stock, once again reflect and accept that what is the past is the past, and your ability to move forward differently into the future relies on accepting what is, and starting to look towards what can be. Once again suspend the judgements, accept and reflect and we will look at how you ensure the past does not override your future potential for success. (This is not always easy and it often helps to get the support of a good coach or counsellor depending on the issue)
The third principle is one that takes a little bit of thinking about to get your head around, especially if you are experiencing far more negatives than positives. It may be hard to see that all the negative feelings you have, and your bad habits have at a deeper level a positive intention attached to them. This is called ‘reframing’ which is finding the positive intention underneath a negative feeling or behaviour. This is well recognised as a strategy employed by those who stay resilient and committed to achievement in the face of challenges and self-doubt.
Once again it requires you to slow down, take some time to reflect on what is going on for you. Find the value in exploring a negative feeling or behaviour you have, and find what positives could possibly be associated to that. This is the foundation of many therapeutic processes – reconnecting people with their own inner positive intentions. For example I have worked with many people who beat themselves up because they cannot stop smoking. Like all addictions there is a complex mix of triggers, thoughts and behaviours keeping them locked into a habit even if they don’t want to be. When you look for the positive intentions from way back it was “to get some time out” or “relax”. Most often when we discover the positive intentions attached to behaviours we want to change they seem at odds with what that behaviour (i.e. smoking) is achieving for you now.
Stop and take the time to reflect on what the original positive intention was for the behaviour you want to change and start thinking of alternative ways you may achieve that positive now by doing something other than the negative pattern.
These 3 principles have helped guide me through a whole range of challenges over the past 20 years and allow me to have choice. We can all choose to be victims of our own doing or we can choose to expand and explore the way in which we approach situations and events in our lives.
Creating new patterns of thinking and changing entrenched old ways of sabotaging will happen when we decide to give energy and attention to that change. I am unapologetic about the fact that to create new ways of thinking you will need to put a lot of attention onto what you want and ramp up your level of dissatisfaction with staying the way you are. As Mish says, ‘Put your runners on and just commit to getting out there and exercising. Once you are out there the momentum has begun and you will commit to completing the workout.’ It is the same with commitment to changing old patterns of thinking. If you are making a commitment to be your best self it begins with allocating the time to learning, exploring and reflecting on how you are thinking and behaving now.
The first step is to actually notice what you may not have noticed before, such as an inner voice that is critical and leads the charge for you to sabotage yourself. Take control. Recognise that maybe that voice just wants to make things easy for you and have you relax, but the reframe is ‘I am capable of making good choices and I will’.
This month make it your choice to think positive thoughts and take the time out to reflect and evaluate where you are at currently. Awareness and reflection are the first step so commit to them today.