Creating Change: Avoiding the "shoulds"
As someone who has worked with people trying to make fundamental changes in the way they operate, I have noticed a few things. There is nothing more difficult to change than diet and exercise. They are changes that require a big shift in our habits, our perceptions and very often, our emotions to really create enduring change. That is what drove me to start including mind/body work in conjunction with awareness training in my work with clients. I can write the best exercise program, but if you don't address the whole person, changes are short lived.
Another thing I have learned is that people cannot embark on lifestyle changes because they "should". People who are still in the should phase are not ready to make changes. I hear it often, "my doctor says I should lose some weight". In this instance the decisions are being made outside the person and until it is a personal choice there is no authentic recognition of personal responsibility. People in this phase are still happy to blame situational or environmental factors for their current predicament. In this space, my job is to give information. It is not until a person can really take responsibility for their actions and have a internal drive to create change that it is worth creating an action plan. It was hard for me to surrender to this knowledge. Every time I worked with a client I wanted to take over the process and hold their hand, but I know better now.
People have to come to the place of change in the right time. Even then, making fundamental changes in our lifestyle habits is hard, but it is even harder when you are taking action from the place of should. Be honest with yourself and know when you are ready. Starting before you are ready will lead to failure and this can be very discouraging. Since changes occur in the mind and our actions, don't set yourself up to fail. Do some research, and educate yourself on your habits. Start to notice when and under what circumstance you make poorer choices. Notice what is going on in your body in those moments. Ask yourself, how do you feel? After doing this for awhile you will become more aware of how you operate and you will start to shift your perception. Especially, if you do do some research on the physical impact of your habits. As you build awareness you will notice when the time is right to start making changes. Then, don't wait, seek help and take advantage of your new found intrinsic motivation.
Angela Levesque is the host of On Health & Healing Thursday nights from 8-9pm PST/9M/10C/11E on sqradio.fm. Look for her 6 week class in Mind/Body Weight Loss starting January 2012.