Changing a bad habit can be messy, frustrating, and unpleasant.
After all, if it was easy, we’d all be dropping bad habits willy-nilly, wouldn’t we?
It becomes easier if, instead of looking at it like, “One moment I’m here. The next minute I have to be all the way over there,” we understand it more as a series of stages.
I’ll assume one has left the initial stage of denial, and decided to — for example — lose a few pounds; accepting that either forever gaining weight or making a change are his only options.
He lands firmly in stage one: “Never.”
Here thoughts and feelings are extremely negative, perception being an excessive, laborious amount of work and discomfort for what appears to be a pipe dream result. Internal dialog is, “I will never be able to do that” with the obvious coda being, “…so why bother to try?”
In our example, the thought of sweaty, painful exercise; a starvation-level diet; anal-retentive tracking of calories; tasteless recipes; extensive shopping pattern adjustments; and – in general – being forever, always, never-ending conscious; triggers our synapses to scream, “No way! Can’t be done, ain’t gonna happen.” Crossing our arms, scowling, and firmly planting our feet, we refuse to budge.
Or so we think.
You see; the problem is that once consciousness has been raised it cannot never again be buried.
Therefore, even though convinced the goal is “impossible,” it continually nags, like a small pebble in our shoe. Shake your foot all you want to try and resituate it; eventually you’re just going to have to remove your footwear and deal with it.
So, after extensive rationalization, but unable to quiet the self-critical thought tornado in our head…
We eventually transition to the “Might” stage.
Internal dialog morphs to, “Hmmm… it might be possible for some people — BUT not me.” Our view is now outward, causing us to become somewhat more hopeful than in the prior stage. Yet our intention remains resistance; attempting to validate excuses why we cannot move forward, rather than search out how we can. Although now cognizant of others’ successes, the reaction is to immediately assert why their situation is “different” and how it won’t apply to us.
Nonetheless, the wall is breaking down.
As the pain of stagnation increases and resistance decreases, we eventually shift to “Maybe.”
“Maybe — just possibly – I could make a few minor changes.” Dipping our big toe in the water, we decide to walk a few minutes each day, or explore a fat-free recipe. Possibly, we add more vegetables to our daily diet.
It’s a confusing and tiring period because it’s the point where we are transitioning from old thoughts to new actions. Everything appears to require unrelenting, non-stop, 24/7, attentiveness and preparation. This is the most difficult phase because old habits do not die easily, and like a dysfunctional partner realizing he’s being left behind, it pulls out all the old tricks to seduce us back to unconsciousness.
Yet, upon resisting the siren song, we arrive at “Now.”
Here, we shift from possible to definite, from “trying,” to “doing.” Our present tense has transformed from where we were to where we are. Although relapse is always possible, the fresh, different routine is locking in where the old one lived, filling its void with more healthful and happier thoughts. The storm is passing.
The process from “never” to “now” is not linear, nor does it happen quickly; yet it does occur; little by little, stage by stage, one step at a time.
About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a nationally known weight loss expert for baby boomers and the CRP (Chief Recovering Perfectionist) of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com He will be conducting a seminar in Eureka on July 19. More info can be found at https://thistimeimeanit.com/HumboldtSeminar