I will spare you the images of actual rats chewing on wires. If you google it, you’ll see a lot of very unpleasant images. But don’t do it while you’re eating (like I did). You really don’t want to see that. In fact, what I’m referring to is a metaphor. It refers to those times when the conversation in my head takes a turn for the negative. Highlights from that conversation go a little like this:
“You’re not good enough.”
“You’ve never gotten all the way to goal.”
“You’re always going to be the fat or husky girl–it’s in your genes.”
“You’ll never wear those clothes.”
“Look at how many times you’ve tried this, why will this time be any different?”
I’ve gotten several emails from subscribers with similar undercurrents, particularly that last one….why will this time be any different? If you’ve been following along, you know that I started out really strong. I lost 26 pounds in just 8 weeks. Totally mind blowing for me, given I’ve struggled for many years with losing just a few pounds. But then things slowed. And even though I’ve lost 67 to date, I am determined to get the remaining 33 off before the year is up. If I fail, I fail in front of a lot of people. Anyway, enough about me.
My biggest question in all of this is…
Why are we so compelled to beat the crap out of ourselves?. Why, when something good happens, do we often STILL have a grumbling in our head?
Or is that just me? No?
OK, then I’ll keep going. For starters, much of that conversation emanates from past experiences. You’ve tried multiple diets and failed. Blah, blah blah. It makes sense that if you failed before, you will probably fail again. Right?
Change is another biggie. I find the times when I hear those voices the most is when there’s a change on the horizon. Whether it’s uncertainty about a job (I’m a freelance producer, so the notion of anything steady is foreign to me), having to learn something new, a relationship, my health, or even what the weather’s gonna be like tomorrow, that self-talk seems to kick in more with any oncoming change. Delving into the unknown on a very base level is considered dangerous by our psyches. That whole fight or flight thing is still quite present. Yup, the lizard brain (see my earlier posts about him).
So what’s a person to do? Do we just walk around in the mire of self-deprecating conversations? Do we stand in front of the mirror and chant “I Love You” multiple times? Do we head off to an ashram somewhere, taking a vow of silence and hope those voices can take a hint and stop already?
Do you know the answer?
I’ll give you a hint: It’s one word. And it starts with a capital “A”.
When we begin to take steps toward changing things in line with whatever vision we have of ourselves or whatever we’re not so fond of, those internal voices seem to quiet down. Sure, meditation is great for helping to train the mind to behave itself. But nothing shuts them up like taking a good old swing at the goal. And the nice thing about taking action is you don’t have to wait to “feel” like it. If you decide you’re going to clean out that closet, you head to the door, open it, and voila, you’ve started. And here’s another good thing about taking action: It doesn’t have to be some Herculean gesture. It can literally be one small step for you. Focusing on the small steps makes taking action a bit less overwhelming.
So here’s my current challenge (ok, yes, back to me): I don’t like scheduling exercise. There, I said it. I hate gyms, I’ve done the personal trainer thing…I don’t like it. I like getting my exercise by working hard on my acre of land. I want the physical activity to yield a result beyond just me having fabulous abs (although that would be nice, wouldn’t it?). The other conversation I have on a smaller scale…is it won’t be enough and it will piss me off. Lastly, when I’m working away from home, it’s really challenging for me to fit it in amidst everything else. I know, I know, get up earlier, or take a walk at lunchtime…I get it. There ARE solutions. I’m not the first one to have a busy life. There are big wig gurus and CEOs who find time in their tightly scheduled-down-to-the-minute day to work out. Yes, I get it. So, my way around all of my reasons and excuses is to simply ask myself what I’m willing to commit to. I don’t mandate it. I ask myself nicely. What are you willing to commit to? What makes sense for you given all your reasons? How about 15 minutes? How about walking four times a week? What makes sense?
I find when I pose those questions, something in me relaxes a bit. There isn’t some Nazi somewhere beating the crap out of me, telling me I’m a loser for not tackling this. I’m asking politely, and I’m waiting for an answer. There’s a shift. It’s much the same way I started the food plan. What was I willing to commit to? What could I stay really clear and concise about? How willing was I to surrender to the rules? The same goes for just about anything worth pursuing. Asking what you’re willing to do versus deciding what you should do has been a big distinction. I’m not 100% yet around the activity, I’ll be honest. But I’m getting there. The other thing that really works for me, is very short term commits. Can I do that for a week? A day?
This week, try it. Whether it’s regarding this plan, or you have some nasty little issue you’ve been putting off, trying asking the questions: What am I willing to commit to? If I can do one small thing toward reaching that goal, what seems reasonable? Is doing that one thing going to get me closer to where I want to be? If I could guarantee that I will get the result I want by doing this, is it worth giving it a shot?
The point of all this is to start with the smallest thing you can be reasonably sure you can do consistently. Then do it. What you DON’T want to do is make some big promise and then two days later drop it like it’s hot. You want to do something that you can deliver on. If you decide to take this challenge, I’d love to hear how you made out. Just leave me a comment below.
So here’s what I’ve decided I can reasonably manage this week: I will walk at least 9 miles over the next 7 days. My walks are usually about 3 miles each time, so I have options. I can do it in 3 days or I can do it in 4 or 5. The goal is 9 miles. Wish me luck:)