Everybody has a story in them, a string of events that together forms a narrative and influences their choices and behavior. Think about it, when you tell people that you are a good cook what does this mean? You may reference several meals that you have prepared over the years and the praise you received from friends and family for your creations. At a deeper level you might even remember the time you spent in the kitchen with your parents learning the nuances of putting together a meal.
You can wear a culinary badge of competence based on a history of success and you enjoy the confidence that goes along with it. The thing is, story telling works in both directions and if you are still mastering the art of boiling water you have a pretty different story. The stories we tell ourselves can both carry us forward or hinder our progress; you get to choose which one you want to listen to.
Creating a lifestyle where you achieve a healthy weight and confidence means learning a story that aligns with what you are trying to accomplish. The thing is, if you have had a difficult time with weight loss in the past your story may need revisions. In fact, you may need to do a bit more research and find co-author if you really need to make some significant changes.
Before you know where to go you need to write out where you have been. Take the rest of the week and think about your healthy living story. Who are the main characters, who are the villains, what plot twist caught you off guard and what successes did you experience. Once you have this down you can start to write the rest of the story.
Note, you don’t have to write this story alone so don’t be afraid to ask for help.
The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I work with very intelligent people, I mean seriously, some of these people make me feel lazy and intellectually dull. Yet, they struggle with things like getting to the gym on a regular basis or staying within some basic limits for food and alcohol. The thing is, intelligence does little to inoculate you against a frame of mind that tends to hinder instead of help your self-care efforts.
In this second piece on sabotaging thoughts we will look at how you can identify those instances where your way of thinking gets in the way of performing. This isn’t just procrastination, this is the reason that procrastination even exist. Think about the last time you put off doing something that you new was somewhat important but there was a distraction, like YouTube videos of cats playing pianos, that got in the way. There was a thought process that started before you even left the office, grew as you passed the gym and peaked when you decided to hit the drive through instead of the weight-room. Consider, was your day stressful, was there an unfinished bit of work that was bouncing around in your head, did you lose an argument about the increasing talent of household cats?
Even if you are not aware of it thoughts precede actions. The first step in dealing with sabotaging thoughts is to get use to some of the triggers that cause that cascade of electrical impulses to short circuit your plans. Note how stress impacts your day and look at ways to get in the things that you want to do no matter once. A while back I had a client that would drop his bag off at the gym first thing in the morning with the house keys just so he had to go there to get them. What is setting off the sabotaging thoughts in your life?
I was a cartoon buff when I was a kid and not much has changed over the years, Saturday mornings I still wake up early to watch my toons. There is an iconic scene that has passed down over the decades where a character debates good and evil with a devil and angel on each shoulder. This frames the struggle that many of us may feel when we try to make decisions about self-care. You know you want to go to the gym, you feel so much better after a workout but you worked so hard today maybe it would be better if you go home and recharge so you can get a better workout in later.
Sabotaging thoughts can get in the way of even our best intentions, it doesn’t matter what your plan is or how much you have been looking forward to the activity, in an instance you can decide not to go. Think of a sabotaging thought as those little voices in your head that internal dialog that is constantly talking. These voices justify, rationalize, intellectualize and basically just come up with every excuse in the book for you.
This week I am going to take a look at how thinking can get in the way of the things that we want to do but just can’t seem to make happen. Often, our thinking process can be the deciding factor when it comes to get things done or coming up short. We will look at motivation, procrastination, discipline and just what it means to break through mental barriers and get things done.