Over the next several weeks, I’m going to share mini-lessons you will be able to use to effect change in your life. Not only will these lessons effect change in general but also your relationship with food.
Most health and wellness experts are big on telling you what to do – e.g., don’t eat late at night, stop eating when you’re full, practice mindful eating.
Not many can tell you how.
That’s because most people in the health and wellness arena aren’t experts on the change process. They know the what, but aren’t clear on the how, because the willpower / discipline myth causes major blind spots in how we understand the root cause of unhealthy habits.
In truth, starting new habits vs stopping bad habits are wildly different processes.
Most of what you hear or read are tips and ideas on how to start new habits. Drink eight glasses of water. Get in eight servings of veggies. Find non-food pleasures like a manicure or call a friend to replace rewarding yourself with food.
This is where the field of positive psychology, motivational interviewing or core desired feelings have a place. They are great at getting you clear on what you want and why. This is like putting the gas foot on your goals. That’s a good thing.
However, stopping bad habits like stress eating or bingeing means you also have a foot on the brake of your goals. For as much as you want to feel good, there’s something holding you back.
For example, you can do a bunch of new habits like get a manicure or meet up with a friend – but – end up going through the drive-thru when you aren’t even hungry, afterwards. WTF?!
This makes you feel even worse because you were good and did the new habits and still, you ate out of alignment with your goals.
Don’t beat yourself up! It’s not you. It’s the approach.
As Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize winning behavioral expert says, “If you want to change behavior, diminish the restraining forces; do not increase the driving forces.”
In other words, you don’t need to learn or add more food resisting habits like “call a friend when you feel lonely” and “don’t go to a party hungry.”
The question then becomes: What can you do to take your foot off the brake? And how the hell do you take it off so you can stop flooding your engine, which keeps you exhausted, stuck and self-critical?
The brake I’m talking about is the story about how you should, have to, or must be in the world. This story is unrelated to food. Yet, it controls how you eat.
The good news is there’s so much hope and freedom waiting for you when you choose to change your story to one that supports you, instead of restrains you!
Based on the experience I’ve gained working with people for more than a decade, your bad health habits are mostly tied to one story source.
And when you take the time to do the introspection necessary to rewrite the story holding you back, all your existing efforts, zoom zoom zoom you forward.
And, you simplify your food and health, not build it up to the point of failing at a long list of to-dos!
And that’s not all… before I sound too much like a used car salesman…
The catch isn’t a catch. It’s the truth. Granted, rewriting your story is challenging, and it’s not quick or easy.
The reward for doing this work is you will discover the power, resilience and courage your story initially robbed from you.
It may sound like quite a lot is involved to stop some bad habits! This isn’t just about stopping bad habits. It’s about uncovering your power and achieving profound liberation.
Stay tuned as I talk more about this next week.
In the meantime, I want to leave you with this thought, a question really.
Next time you start having mental gymnastics around food, ask yourself, What feels unsettling to me? This is a clue of where in your life your story is active.
P.S. If you’d like to learn more about how our story keeps the brake on our goals, this podcast episode, Freedom From the Downward Eating Spiral, will teach you more. Listen to the audio. Read the transcript.