As I listened to my longtime client give herself the “talk” after stepping off the scale this morning, I cringed on the inside (and probably on the outside as well, though I did my best to hide it). Her entire demeanor exhibited a disheartened and discouraged spirit and I know it had everything to do with that number she saw on that scale. I could see (and hear) the “hate” conversation she was having with herself, “Why did you eat the cake!?!? You’re never going to make any progress if you keep this up, you’ll never get anywhere- why do you even bother? What is the point?!?”
The word that resonates through my entire being right at that moment is, WHY? Why do we allow ourselves to get to a place of downtrodden attitudes and feelings of low self-worth? What drives us to do things we KNOW we will later regret? We ALL do it! How many times do you put a cookie to your mouth right after uttering, “I know I will regret this later.” Why do you do this to yourself?
What is it about trying to implement change that is so difficult?
We resolve to do better and then quite possibly do worse! The idea of getting a whole new year, 365 days to improve is not completely misled in my mind. What IS misled is our way of thinking about it. I see it over and over: in my clients, friends and even my own family-sometimes even myself. The typical timeline plays: The New Year comes, we start our changes with gusto-motivated from our holiday weight gains or friends and family support, we applaud our first bout of successes (usually in the wrong way, rewarding with food or a “cheat” of our negative habit) and then watch like a spectator as our once so lively efforts fade as we slip here and there. Then, inevitably, we slowly lose the motivation, support (they have fallen off the wagon too-why help you stay on?) and eventually we lose the drive to do anything and then the last stop: the final complete abandonment of our change…All by February. WHY?
What has to change is what DRIVES our change?
There is nothing wrong with wanting to self-improve, that is one thing I love about life – We always have the opportunity to self-improve, every day we can wake up and try and again. What I think has to change is what DRIVES our change. Like my client, she waited until AFTER the negative choice to then feel the regret and now she is completely depressed. Is being driven by regret the smartest choice? It usually doesn’t change our outcome, does it? What if we change to being driven by VISION? Why do we wait to do something that we know we shouldn’t and then feel regret for it later, subsequently beating ourselves up? What I am suggesting is using the power of emotions to keep us from making the negative choice to begin with by focusing on our VISION of what we want to accomplish. I have found that if I can remember the feelings of guilt I felt after a lapse of vision and bring up those feelings inside myself I have more success abstaining from the negative habit or choice, because I don’t like those feelings and I don’t want to feel that way. But thinking like that takes a plan and a willingness to look past what sounds good in the moment.
After the critical time has passed the feeling of regret (or remembered regret) is replaced with a feeling of pride and accomplishment! The next time it happens I am stronger in my resolve and the right choices become easier!
Ask yourself this, “What happens when I blink my eyes?” You lose your vision, right? But what happens when you open your eyes again? Your vision returns. It is only a temporary lapse. If we can wrap our head around the idea that when we slip and maybe fall, lose our focus-“blink” our eyes and mess up- all IS NOT LOST, maybe we will find success at the end of our year-instead of defeat by week 8. Grace in our lives is not near ample enough, especially in dealing with our selves. Bumps, “blinks” and side roads are going to appear-this is called LIFE. Getting past the “in the moment” mentality and focusing on a VISION of what CAN be, what we can BECOME is where we really should focus our attention; on our successes (no matter how small) and not so much on the negatives that we so easily gravitate towards.
Remember your vision and press forward always, even if a “blink” or two comes along-because they will! Have faith in your sight.
~ Liz Jackson