We like to think we know ourselves pretty well. We know what our favourite food is, what kind of music we like to listen to and the things we like to do in our spare time.
But sometimes, what we think we ‘know’ about ourselves, is no more than a belief we hold based on the stories we tell ourselves. Understanding this can help us to break old, unhelpful habits and foster new ones that will help us to achieve our goals.
For example, I’d always thought of myself as someone who was not very good at art. I’d never attempt to do anything arty and if faced with a situation as a teacher when I had to, I’d break out into a cold sweat. I always told people “I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler!”. But a couple of years ago, I decided that I was going to try new things and booked myself onto a painting workshop. I loved it and was really pleased with the painting I created and even started to recreate the techniques I’d been taught at home. I started to tell myself that I could paint and I was keen and eager to practise and go to more workshops to learn more skills.
But how can this help with weight loss and adopting a healthier lifestyle? What stories do we tell ourselves?
Personally, for years I’ve told myself the following stories:
- I love to eat big meals
- I always finish everything on my plate
- I’m addicted to chocolate
- I don’t like exercise
- I don’t have time to exercise
- I can’t run
- I don’t run
Well, that’s a whole load of convincing myself that I’m an ‘unhealthy’ person! But, as any of you who’ve read my recent post about completing the C25K program know, it turns out I can run if I put the time and effort in. So it looks like “the only time I would contemplate running is if I’d just come out of the hairdresser’s and it was raining,” story had to be changed.
This got me thinking about what other stories I tell myself I ought to work on changing.
“I love to eat big meals and always finish everything on my plate” – Well, actually, whilst I do love to eat tasty food, I don’t like that uncomfortable feeling of being stuffed to the gills as it spoils the meal. So I focus on enjoying the flavours and textures and only eat until I’m satisfied.
“I’m addicted to chocolate” – No I’m not. I really enjoy chocolate but it is not healthy for me to eat one (or more!) bars every day. So I only enjoy good chocolate in moderation.
“I don’t like exercise” – Exercise is important for my physical and mental health and well being and I enjoy the way I feel after I’ve exercised.
“I don’t have time to exercise” – I’ve got the same amount of time as everyone else has and lots of those people manage to exercise. I make exercise a priority because it is important for my health.
Now, I’m not saying I’m consistently telling myself only the new stories without the old stories creeping in sometimes, but I’m trying. And the more I tell myself these new stories, the more I believe them.
What stories, helpful or unhelpful, do you tell yourself? Let me know in the comments section.
Thanks for reading,