Your brain is awesome!
Every time you think a thought or practice a habit, a neural pathway is created in your brain. The more you repeat the thought or habit, the stronger that neural pathway becomes. Your brain is naturally wired to be efficient and it wants to take the neural pathway that you’ve practiced the most.
Sometimes those thoughts and habits serve you, sometimes they don’t.
When you decide you want to make a change in your life (whether it be a physical change or a change in the way you think about something), there is a period of time that this is bound to feel uncomfortable because you are now needing to construct new neural pathways that support the desired change. Your brain doesn’t like this. It wants to take the path it already knows.
You may get frustrated with yourself when you easily revert back to old patterns, but instead of telling yourself that you have no willpower, I invite you to be compassionate with yourself and say this instead: “My brain is efficient and this what it currently knows how to do. I need to keep practicing my new desired thought/habit to lay down new neural pathways.”
Why am I asking you to be so specifically scientific with your inner dialogue here? Because it’s giving your brain clear directions that a change is taking place. If you blame yourself for lack of willpower, you will give up too soon. Creating new neural pathways in your brain takes time and effort, and it helps if you keep reminding yourself of your intention. It ceases being about your character and puts the focus on the thing you are trying to build.
And building new neural pathways can be done.
You already have it!
All of your current thoughts and habits were practiced enough times until they became routine.
You weren’t born knowing how to mindlessly eat chips in front of the TV.
You weren’t born thinking thoughts like, “I will always struggle with my weight.”
You weren’t born with a dislike for yourself or your body.
You had to learn that.
The good news here is that if you were able to program thoughts and habits like these into your brain, you have the exact same power to program something else entirely.
Your brain is a powerful tool and it’s designed to turn the thoughts you think the most into your reality. It’s always working, so why not use its power to your benefit? Just because you’ve been thinking a particular thought for a long time doesn’t mean you have to keep it. You can harness your brain’s power by consciously choosing new thoughts and habits to focus on.
They key to making your new thoughts stick is believing the replacement thought. Maybe you can’t jump from “I will always struggle with my weight” to “I’m so skinny,” but your brain will probably accept a thought like, “I am learning how to take great care of my body.” Since your brain turns what you believe into your reality, believing a thought like this will lead to a very different result than if you believe that you will always struggle.
The key to making your new habits stick is repetition. The more you practice the new desired habit, the stronger that new neural connection becomes. With enough practice, that new neural pathway becomes the one your brain prefers and you will eventually begin to perform your new habit on autopilot.
In both cases, give yourself plenty of time. And more importantly, allow the transition to be imperfect. It’s totally okay if your path to success is not a straight line. It’s probably not going to be anyway, so don’t get hung up on the idea that it should be. Just keep the image of paving that new neural pathway in your mind and soon enough it will take root, and the outcome you will create game with it will be your new reality.
You know when you keep getting signs that you just can’t ignore?
Last night on my Facebook page I posted this quote:
Old Ways Won’t Open New Doors.
This morning, within in the span of about an hour, three different quotes referencing “doors” showed up in my FB news feed!
This is way too much of a coincidence for me, so I took it as a sign that I needed to explore the metaphor of doors a little further.
What came to me is the image of a long hall with many doors on both sides. Each door has a sign on it.
One might say, “A Successful Career in a field I love.”
Another might say, “A loving companion to share my life with.”
A little farther down the hall the door might read, “A healthy relationship with food.”
There are countless doors to choose from.
Some you freely walk through, no problem: “Great friendships with like-minded people” or “Responsible pet ownership.” Easy-peasy, right?
Some you need a little courage to grasp the doorknob and walk through, but you still do it: “Take a course in a subject that interests me” or “Public Speaking” or “Travel to an exotic destination on my Bucket List.”
But then there are the doors you avoid altogether. The ones you’ve told yourself are not for you.
“Maintain a healthy weight without a struggle.”
You don’t even entertain those doors because you’ve already decided that you don’t get to have that.
Who says you don’t get to have that?
You know who?
You’re the only one stopping yourself from having what you want.
Somewhere you picked up a story that blocks you from believing you can have it.
I’ve been there, and I get it. I used to believe that my body was the enemy, and that I was powerless against food. With the help of coaching, I was able to identify that story and make the conscious choice to change it. I can now easily walk through the door that says, “Total freedom around food while feeling great in my body.” I decided that was for me, and I’ve made it so.
What doors have you told yourself are not for you?
I invite you to make a detailed list of the doors you don’t let yourself walk through and then take yourself through this process with each one:
- Imagine each door you block yourself from entering and write down what the sign says on it.
- Next to the sign on the door, write down why you think it’s not for you.
- Remind yourself that this reason is just a story, and that the only reason it has felt true is because you believed it was true. But it isn’t. There are other versions of the story you can choose.
- Re-write the story where you make it okay for you to have the very thing that’s behind that door.
- Decide to walk through the door and claim it!
Fully claiming the thing you once denied yourself might take some time and effort, but at least the possibility is now open to you.
The brain can change its neural pathways with repetition, so keep practicing telling yourself the new story until it feels like, “Of course I can have that!”
And yes, my friend –
Of course you can have that.
Do you need help allowing yourself to have what you want? Reach out to me here and let’s talk about how coaching can help you change the belief patterns that have you stuck in a rut. I’m living proof that coaching works! Let me share with you what I know. Can’t wait to talk with you!
About six weeks after the start of the new year is when people start abandoning their New Year’s Resolutions—if they haven’t already.
Many people will blame busy-ness or laziness, but there’s one reason that is often overlooked: They sabotaged themselves when they started to see results.
“What? Why would I do that? My whole goal is to drop this extra weight!”
To the everyday person, they might think sabotaging one’s self when they are making progress makes no sense, but to an experienced coach like me, the reason is super clear: Somewhere inside of their mind, the person has a much stronger need to keep the weight on than to lose it.
If you started seeing results (on the scale, looser clothes, receiving compliments from others) and you’ve noticed yourself engaging in self-sabotaging behaviors such as overeating, sneak-eating, binging, skipping workouts, drinking extra glasses of wine or soda, etc., maybe it’s time to try a new approach.
Doing the inner work to understand WHY you are carrying the excess weight in the first place can eventually help you stop sabotaging yourself and stick to your healthy habits so that you can enjoy the results you create with your efforts long-term.
It’s okay to ask for help.
I did. I would have never released the 40 extra pounds I was carrying, and I would have never developed the peaceful relationship I have with food today if it weren’t for working with a coach.
Let me be your coach.
Let me help you make the necessary shifts in mindset required for permanent change.
I am currently taking on new clients. If you think it’s time you asked for help in addressing the mental and emotional component of the weight struggle, please contact me here for a free mini-session to see if coaching is right for you.
Why spend another year of your life locked in the weight struggle when there’s a solution available to you in the form of coaching?
Take the brave step and ask for help.
Your Future Self will thank you for it.