If you’re anything like me (or most humans), you start off with good intentions, make a promise to yourself to do things differently, and then don’t follow through.
You may say things like, “I will only have one glass of wine tonight” and it ends up being 3 (or more).
Maybe you say, “I won’t spend anymore money on clothes,” which works fine until the next Patagonia sale.
You might even say, “ I will not go on a second date with someone that does not reach out to me first,” which you stick to like glue until you feel extra lonely on a Friday night.
WTF? Why do we do that? Why do we go against our word…especially when its our word to ourselves?
Here’s the deal. Most people (and to be honest, many coaches themselves) focus on taking action “no matter what.” That means the emphasis is on taking action even if that action goes against every thought running through your head.
So you think, “Having another glass of wine is going to feel sooooo good.” Then you fight that thought all night and you succeed and succeed…until you don’t.
You think, “Buying that will be soooooo fun!” Then you fight that thought…until you don’t.
You think, “I am so afraid of being alone the rest of my life.” And you fight that with all your might….until you can’t anymore, and give in to the booty call.
Do you see a pattern here? No matter how many times you’ve successfully taken an action (or non-action, like refraining from going out for that booty call), if the underlying thought doesn’t change, you will eventually give in to your desires.
Resisting a powerful thought or feeling does not work in the long-run.
My colleague, Brooke Castillo, likens resisting your desires to pushing a beach ball under water and trying to hold it there. When you are resisting your desires, you can keep it up for awhile, but you can’t keep it up forever. You eventually have to let go.
A side note for those of you that cringe at the idea of resisting your desires: This isn’t about resisting healthy desires. This is about those desires we have that don’t serve our higher selves.
If you’ve been with me for awhile, you know I talk about how thoughts create our beliefs, which create our feelings, which create our actions, and ultimately create our reality/life experience.
In order to change our feelings (like a strong desire) we need to change our thoughts. Yes, we can try to change the action through resisting, but in most cases, since the thought is still there, we eventually can’t keep up with trying to change the action.
Unless we change our thoughts, the feeling that drives the actions we take does not change and ultimately, our actions don’t permanently change.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could change out behavior and have it feel…easy? To have it not be a constant battle with our feelings? And to have that change be permanent?
If we want to create a new reality – not buying something we don’t need; not having “just one more” drink or one more slice of pizza; not going out with people who don’t truly appreciate and love us, or anything else that doesn’t serve our evolution as human beings – we need to change our thoughts about the situation.
:: What feeling do you think doing x, y, or z will make you feel? Do you think it will make you feel happy? Strong? Loved? That’s your current thought. (“Eating this will make me feel better.” “Going out with them will help me feel connected/loved.”)
:: Notice that the way you feel after thinking that thought is often a shittier feeling than you intended (weak, needy, self-pity, self-hatred, etc.), which is why you do something that makes you feel shitty in the end (crazy, right?!)
:: What different thought do you need to have in order to feel the way you want to feel, that isn’t dependent on someone else or doing something that isn’t healthy for you? (“I don’t need this glass of wine – I like to feel energized and fully present every day.” “I am more than enough as I am.” “This is exactly what I am supposed to be feeling right now.”
Make that thought your new best friend.
Don’t worry if this doesn’t come easily. This is stuff I teach my clients over and over again, and I continue to practice it myself every day.
But you must start trying.