Over the course of the last ALMOST 2 months, I have spoke with you a lot about changing habits for the better…permanantly! This was something that has been a struggle for me my whole life. I think I tried every diet under the sun, I started and stopped exercise routines soooo many times…and as soon as the going got hard in relationships, I ran instead of staying and working on it. Healthy? No…but it happens to more people than you know, more OFTEN than you know. How many people do you think you know that have started and stopped a healthy routine? Yeah! Almost everyone right?
I can honestly say that as far as food goes, I get it now. I believe I have a handle on it because I OWN the consequences of what will happen to me if I DON’T eat this way. As far as exercise, I do get it EXPONENTIALLY more than I used to. There are, without a doubt, still days where the last thing in the world I want to do is exercise. However, I also know that when I feel this way, and I suck it up and go anyway, I ALWAYS am so grateful that I did.
My only real struggle, thankfully, is down to the thinking part. I still get down on myself about things I shouldn’t..I have fears that I shouldn’t have…I worry more than I should. I believe I’m a pretty positive person…but I also know that “Think Well” is my largest struggle. I’m constantly talking about making a lasting change in our health, our wellness lifestyle…this is not a diet..this is not temporary..this is my LIFESTYLE. Well, its time that I make the THINK WELL part of my life my priority and get that going in the right direction.
That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the task itself has become easier, but that our ability to perform it has improved. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
I am a huge nerd, and I love to read about articles or letters from people who are experiencing the same thing as me. I found an article about making profound and lasting change in your life. Now whatever that struggle may be for you: losing weight in a healthy manner, being unable to get up early like you want so you can go for a run in the morning, having a difficult time trusting again, wanting to quit an addiction, wanting to go back to school, etc; you can plug these struggles into this article.
The article mentions how there are 3 building blocks that we need to first realize before we can make any change. These are the basic tools we need to make lasting change.
1. Mental Chatter
Our mental chatter is the internal dialog that is going on in our heads at all times. Our thoughts run an endless stream from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed. Thoughts are flowing through your mind right now as you read this. What is she talking about? That’s a tall order they’re claiming, isn’t it? Gosh, what am I going have for dinner?
Sometimes our mental chatter is so loud that it prevents us from sleeping. It has been with us and apart of our lives for so long, that we have learned to ignore it. However, what we don’t realize is that our mental chatter and mental models are what we use to create our lives.
We think that we are given a set of things that is our reality, but that is not really the case. We construct it with our mental chatter. Much of the time, we are building it without knowing that this is what we are doing.
Be aware that we have mental chatter and recognize that the voice in our head is not us. Our mental chatter often works against us and is highly dysfunctional. This is the voice that talks down to us, challenges our self-esteem and is the source that limits our infinite potential.
An example of this would be someone with an eating disorder looking in the mirror. He/she is seeing something MUCH different than the reality, the mental chatter won’t stop telling him/her that she looks fat or horrible, when perhaps in reality he/she is becoming extremely thin and frail. Or, this is often the voice in your head at 5am that is saying you don’t really NEED to get up to go for a run…that you can go tonight. Do you EVER actually go that night??? Sometimes…but most of the time that voice talks you into waiting till the next morning to do that run. JUST DO IT!
2. Mental Models
A mental model is our belief of how the world works. We say, this is the way the world works. Mental models can be very useful because they simplify our lives and save us mental energy. Each of us has many mental models. For example, we have mental models for how to find a date; mental models for how to pick a movie; mental models for how to find a good restaurant.
The problem is not that we have mental models, but that we don’t recognize we have mental models. We think this is how the world works. But, this is not how the world works; this is our perception of how the world works, built in our mind.
The interesting thing about mental models is that the moment we have a mental model defined, the universe cooperates and gives you enough evidence that this is in fact the way it is working. You notice and take account of the positive evidence, and make excuses when evidence does not fit your model.
Every time you find yourself unhappy with something in your life, you can always trace it back to one or more mental models which are not serving you very well.
I love this one. I feel so often that we develop fears, or reasons for not doing something because of things that have happened in the past. We tend to think that this is the way it is, and this is the way it will always be. We forget that every situation, every person is new and different, and that we cannot assume or judge that this situation or this person will be like those in the past. For instance: Trust immediately comes to mind in this. Let’s say in the past you had a bad experience, or multiple bad experiences even, where people you loved, friends and lovers, betrayed you. Due to these mental models that you have built up over the years, you lose the ability to trust ANYONE with your heart, and distance yourself from the ability to let people in. Lonely… It’s important to let go in this case…remember that the past is the past…the people that hurt you also got you to where you are to this day. As one of my good friends once told me, think of those experiences as a gift…not a burden.
3. Me-Centered Universe
Most of us have a habit of living in a Me Centered Universe. We interpret everything that happens in terms of, What impact does it have on me?
For example, If our spouse gets a new job, we instantly think of how we can benefit from it. If our kids were to drop out of school, we instantly think of what our neighbors and friends will think of me?
It’s worthwhile to take a moment to think about this. How much of the time do you live in a Me Centered Universe? Where regardless of what happens, the first thing we think about is in terms of What is its impact on me?
If you spend a dominate amount of time in the Me Centered Universe, you are guaranteed to find more than your share of frustrations, of pain, of suffering, of life sucks. They come with the territory of being in a Me Centered Universe.
The only way you can live a completely fulfilled life is to design your life such that what you are doing aligns with something which will bring greater good to a greater community. You are the one who gets to define what the greater good means and what the greater community means.
The good news is that once you recognize this, it is not that hard to make a shift.
This greater good could be ANYTHING! It could be that you get your ass out
of bed in the morning because you’ve decided its IMPORTANT to your FAMILY that you’re healthy…take the focus off yourself. Stop thinking, but I would realllly love to sleep in a little bit longer, I’m so tired. Start thinking, I want to be sexy when I’m seventy, and that’s never going to happen if I keep allowing myself to hit that snooze button. Or, my friend is counting on me to meet them at the gym. Or, my husband and children want me to live a long, healthy life…I need to do this for them. Even if you’re doing it for you…take the pressure from you, and give it a greater cause!
What I’m learning is the our minds are RIDICULOUSLY powerful. I’ve learned that if you want to see the shit in life, it’s there to find. If you want to see the beauty, the love, the greatness of life…it’s there…every single day. On Nick and I’s 8 hour drive back from the ‘Bou, we were listening to an audio tape. The guy, whose name I can’t remember, said that love is all around you all the time. Love is a constant yin and yang. When you receive a compliment that brings you way up, there is always someone (even if it’s just someone on the side of the road) that will bring you down, just to keep you humble. He was saying that is love. While I find it a TAD bit funny, and maybe a little out there…I can see it in some respects for sure! When it comes to those in your life closest to you, the ones that truly love you; who’s the person that tells you that you’re being a litttttle pompous when you’re thinking a little too highly of yourself? The ones who love you. Who is there to tell you that you’re amazing, and intelligent, and incredible in every way when you’re feeling like the world is against you? The ones who love you. There is a constant give and take there, that is love.
Where the heck was I GOING with that? HAHA. Oh yeah! I was talking about the power of thought, haha. It ALL in our perception…how we want to see it. I truly believe that once you are able to adjust that, you can change your world…quite literally.
Steps for Altering Your Reality: An Exercise
Try this simple yet powerful exercise. You can do this in a group of 2 or 3, or you can do it on your own.
- Articulate a reality – In your life, you have something of concern to you, right now. Around this concern, you have crafted a reality. You say, this is what it is. Now, articulate this reality. Write it down if you are working on your own. Every detail and every assumption.
- Craft an alternative reality – Come up with a possible alternative reality. This alternative reality must meet two criteria:
- It has to be better than the one you were describing, the one you are presently using.
- It has to be a reality that you can plausibly believe, on some level.
- Start living as if your alternative reality were THE reality – when you start to do this, you will find two things happening:
- You will get lots of evidence saying: it’s not working. It’s not working. I guarantee you will. Just ignore that. Remember? Your mind is not you.
- You will get lots of evidence saying: It’s working! It’s working! – Recognize and celebrate it.
- Write it down – When you get evidence that it is working, do more than celebrating it. Make sure you record it down. Write it down. This is a very important step. There will be a natural laziness that comes into play whispering in your ears that you will remember it. But you won’t remember. Make sure to carry a note book or notepad with you at all times.
If you consistently write down evidence that your alternative reality is working, you will find over time that, as you review your words, there is a shift happening. Slowly, your alternative reality becomes your new reality. You will find that your life has changed, for the better. And that you are living in a different reality than the one you were in before.
When we craft a statement that says this is where we are and we are stuck here. What we are doing is expressing the reality of our lives. The thing to recognize here is: It is a reality, but we treat it as if it is the reality.
Once we define our lives as Yes, I can do all these things. Then suddenly, ways will be shown to you such that you can do it.
This alternative reality exercise is very powerful, because it can get you out of the straight jacket that you’ve put on. Over time, it’s not just an exercise anymore, but it becomes who you are.
The next time I’m feeling like I’m stuck…I’m really going to try this!! You should too!! We have the power to change our lives… SOOOOO what the HECK are we waiting for?!?!?!