“I just need a little motivation,” she said as we sat sipping coffee and deciding if we should work together. She had over 50 pounds she wanted to lose, she was on medication to reduce her blood pressure and she was recently diagnosed as pre-diabetic.
A motivational meme wasn’t going to be enough to tackle what was really going on for her.
“I know what I need to do, I just don’t do it,” is what you say when you think about making a change in your life.
So you go to your favorite social media or you google “motivational quotes,” find one or two that speak to you, feel a quick burst of energy and enthusiasm and think you’re on your way to a perfect body and perfect health.
Until a few hours later when you haven’t gotten off the couch, it’s too late in the day to go to the gym and you’re foraging in your fridge for something you can call dinner. What happened to the motivation?
Motivation is transient…it comes and goes.
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing, that’s why we recommend it daily.”
— Zig Ziglar
Motivation often has more to do with our energy levels.
If you’re feeling tired all of the time, motivation is like a unicorn…you think it might exist, but it seems magical and impossible to find.
Motivation does not create healthy habits.
What you believe about yourself creates your habits. Your underlying beliefs dictate your behavior. If you believe you’re a hot mess, you will act in ways that reinforce this view of yourself. Not on purpose, not consciously, but things will just happen that reinforce your belief that you’re a hot mess.
What can you do?
You need to identify and change the underlying belief.
Changing your underlying belief takes time. It takes work. It can’t be done by watching a motivational speech or scrolling through motivational memes.That stuff may get you off the couch on a Monday morning, but it won’t help you by Tuesday afternoon.
Take these steps to change your underlying belief:
- Identify the belief.
- Recognize it as a false.
- Change it to what is true.
Probably not. The process is simple (3 steps). The work can be hard. That’s why “Motivation Monday” is so appealing. It’s easy. You read an article, you find a couple of inspirational quotes and you think you’re done.
But you want to make a lasting, real change. You’re tired of starting, stopping and generally spinning your tires but getting nowhere.
Typically, I work with women over 40, helping them with weight loss and health improvement. If you’re like my clients, you’ve been addressing your problem for years…maybe even decades. You “get motivated,” make a whole lot of changes, then “lose your motivation,” undo all of the good work you may have done and end up worse off than where you started.
You’re exhausted from running the same pattern over and over again. You’re confused and you can’t figure out why you can’t just “fix” the problem once and for all.
You’re addressing the wrong problem.
Your weight and your health being out of control are symptoms of the problem. They’re not the problem. The problem is what you believe. Until you address your underlying beliefs, you won’t see lasting change.
You’ll join a challenge, you’ll buy the latest weight-loss book, you’ll buy a treadmill and use it as a coat rack.
It’s like when you have a cold. You can take all kinds of drugs to address the symptoms (runny nose, headache, cough), but until you kick the bug out of your system, you’re not really healthy.
This brings us back to our 3 steps. The only way to get control of your health is to change what you believe.
Step 1: Identify your underlying belief.
How do you identify your underlying belief? Write it down. Journaling is the only way I know of to really dig into this. You can think about it or meditate on it, but that’s an in-the-moment solution. The work I’m recommending requires getting these thoughts out of your mind, onto paper where you can look at them, step away from them and return to them later. This is not a one-and-done project.
You might find this discouraging. I can tell you that this will be the most valuable work you ever do in your life. Are you worth the time investment? How you answer that question is an insight into your underlying belief.
What do you think about your health? What does your internal dialogue sound like? If you’re saying things like, “I can’t do this,” “Being healthy is boring,” “I can be healthy or I can enjoy life,” you’re identifying your underlying belief.
Step 2: Recognize your belief is false.
In the above example, if the underlying belief is, “I can be healthy or I can enjoy life,” what examples do you have that prove this is false? Do you know people in their 70s who are traveling the world because they feel great? Do you know people who eat well who have a ton of energy and seem to accomplish anything they set their mind to? Find examples in your life that directly contradict your underlying belief. Write them down.
The tricky part with step 2 is you have to truly believe that the belief you recognized in step 1 is false. When you do, you will feel like a lightbulb has just been turned on in your brain. You’ll probably feel a bit shocked that you ever believed this in the first place. If you feel like you’ve discovered the secret to life, you’re on the right track.
If you don’t find that the belief is false, you won’t be able to change it…because you’ll still believe it’s true.
Step 3: Replace the belief with a new, true belief.
This can actually be the easy step. Once we’ve discovered the belief and decided it is false, finding the new belief can happen pretty quickly.
Using the above example, once you find people in your life who are healthy, active and loving life, you re-state your original belief. If the original belief was, “I can be healthy or I can enjoy life,” and you see people who are healthy AND love life, you replace your original belief with, “I can be healthy AND enjoy life.”
Repeat this new belief to yourself. It is true that the more we hear something (even in our own heads), the more we believe it.
Here’s what this might look like in your life.
You’ve changed your belief to “I can be healthy AND enjoy life.” Your brain will look for confirmation of your new belief. You’ll suddenly notice that you know more people who are healthy and enjoying life. You’ll see healthier choices you can make when you go out to eat.
You start eating better because that’s what healthy people do. When you start eating better you have more energy. When you have more energy you enjoy life more.
It’s the same thing that happens when you buy a new car. Suddenly you see thousands of your make and model of car everywhere. Yet before you made the purchase, you never noticed many of them in your neighborhood.
You can do this.
Start considering your beliefs today. It’s just 3 steps. There’s no right or wrong belief. There’s only what you believe. It’s either moving you forward or holding you back. You get to decide which it is and you get to decide what to change.
Have at it and let me know how it goes for you. Comment here or send an email to me: firstname.lastname@example.org.