From Heartbreaks to Health- Dealing in Absolutes
Change is an interesting thing, in that it rarely happens by accident. All of us deal with the unexpected from time to time, but more often than not, big personal changes come when we can no longer tolerate a situation. Maybe you’re in an unhealthy relationship; maybe you’ve been overweight for a while. Whatever the case, it takes an absolute decision to change it. So often you hear about men and women who “tried to break up with their partner” or “have tried everything to lose weight.”
Have you tried actually telling your partner the relationship is over? Have you followed it up with some concrete actions like moving, giving them back their stuff, and deleting their number?
Have you tried recording everything you eat and drink? Or eating vegetables for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
Most of the time, I’d bet these people have tried some easy steps and taken some half-measures. Ending a relationship is hard. So is losing weight. Once you make the decision, there is no going back.
“Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
This is often where I come into the story with my online clients. I don’t claim to be a relationship expert, but I do know fitness, and a lot of people hire a personal trainer after they’ve made a major life decision. I try to give the uncuffed and the fed up some concrete plans to help them get the body they want, and a big part of that is making them continue to operate in absolutes. Once you’ve made that first decision to lose weight or add muscle (or to break up with your girlfriend/boyfriend, or to move), you have already created so much leverage. We can use that leverage to create lasting change in three steps.
Step 1: Paradigm Shift
The first thing we have to accomplish is to reframe how you view your life and yourself as a person. How are we going to do that? By killing the old one. (In your head, that is—this is not a case for the value of homicide or suicide.)
I regret to inform you that the fat version of yourself, along with all the bad habits you disliked, died today. You guys had a lot of fun together watching Netflix and eating ice cream, but unfortunately (s)he could no longer survive in your current lifestyle. It is hard for fat to exist when 50 percent of what you eat is vegetables, and when you do an hour of physical activity every day, with no exceptions.
Your old life—the old you—no longer exists in your reality.
Step 2: Embrace Your New Identity
Many psychologists are big into the idea that we turn into whatever we focus on and identify with. So let’s start identifying the characteristics you would like to have. Pick one or two things to go after and focus on them all day long. Here are some examples of positive traits to identify with:
· I am a healthy eater.
· I work out.
· I am confident.
· I am in charge of my life.
· I don’t need approval.
· I am hard worker.
· I am a terrific lover.
· I am making progress.
Feel free to construct your own, ideally ones that begin with “I am…” Remember—the statement is about you.
The more you think about your new identity, the more your mind will find reasons to self-identify with the traits.
Step 3: Gather Reference Experiences
I find affirmations to be an incredibly interesting idea, but this is not a case for them. I am not asking you to tell yourself something over and over again and hope against hope that it happens. I am asking you to pick one or two traits to identify with, and to then start gathering reference experiences to prove it to yourself.
For instance, if you choose, “I am a healthy eater,” have a salad for lunch. Congratulations! You have just made the statement true, and are one step closer to ingraining that trait deep into your subconscious mind.
Do this at every opportunity. If you walk by a candy bowl, think, “I am a healthy eater, I don’t eat that.” Even if the food is already something you wouldn’t touch, you’re still adding to your reference experiences. The more experiences you have, the more real your ideal traits become. Once you collect around 100 references, you are going to become the new identity.
Action Steps for this week-
Adopt a trait and use this three-step process to make it truly part of your identity.