Just acknowledge a different way to live, shame yourself when you fail, and pile on the guilt for not following through, right?
Obviously wrong. So obviously so wrong. Yet, that’s what most people do over and over again.
Listen: I’ve seen tens of thousands of gym members and worked with hundreds of health and fitness professionals who’ve coached and treated thousands and thousands of patients and clients. I’m going to tell you what I’ve seen that is 100% successful and what tactic is 100% unsuccessful.
It is 100% counterproductive to talk about what you should and shouldn’t do, what you can and can’t do, and have the scale or some other “accountability” device to make you feel bad. NEVER EVER WORKS.
The secret is it’s all about the self-image identity and its accompanying narrative we’ve written in our minds and/or the identity we’ve allowed others to place on us. You are who you say you are to yourself. And sadly, you are who you’ve perceived others to say you are. Then, you do what the person you think you are must do.
It’s that simple. You can convince yourself that the RIGHT thing to do is not eat that cookie; but if the self-image you have is “cookie eater,” you will behave like the internal narrative. Smokers smoke. Drinkers drink. Cookie-eaters eat cookies. And so on.
Vilifying a behavior, therefore, is pointless. Calling something “bad” and calling ourselves “weak” accomplishes ZERO benefit. It doesn’t matter how bad or wrong we convince ourselves that something is, as long as it remains part of our self-image, we will continue. As long as we box other people into an identity, they will generally continue the accompanying behavior.
To change, there must be a shift in narrative. There is a critical question attached:
“Does the person I am becoming do this?”
It’s no longer about should or shouldn’t, can or can’t. If you desire change, all that matters is the narrative shift.
Avoid saying things like “I should go to the gym,” “I can’t eat that,” “I need to start,” “I hope I won’t be too overwhelmed,” and so on. These statements actually reinforce an unmoved self-image and essentially restate that your identity is at odds with the intended behavior or response.
Instead, shift the language. The person I am becoming practices this new language every day. The person I am doesn’t eat that. Who I am will encounter stress and persevere through no matter how difficult it is.
The “should”s and “if”s and “can”s are all well-intentioned; but they don’t get it done. In tens of thousands of examples, I’m telling you they just don’t get it done. And it’s not just me saying this. Reference all of behavioral psychology. We don’t do a darn thing because it’s a good idea. We do it because we’re convinced it’s part of our identity and we are reinforcing the narrative.
Word choice isn’t splitting hairs. Our minds are very good storytellers and obedient to the script. We will play out our role for good or for bad. It’s no small thing, then, to rewrite the lines so we may act our new part.