An underrated and poorly understood component of our actions and behaviours are our thoughts.
How many times in the past have you gritted your teeth and said with resolve, “I’m going to get fit”, “This time I’m really going to do my exercises, Maddie!”, “I’m going to get back into the gym”. And you did, for a day, then you stopped. Inevitably that is followed by shame, negative self-talk, blaming yourself and convincing yourself that you are lazy.
Apart from that being unhelpful, it’s also untrue. We’ve just been going about it the wrong way!
Our neural hardware works in a loop;
Thoughts create feelings
Feelings affect behaviour
Behaviour feeds back to thoughts
So if you want to change your behaviour (and I mean really change it), you have to start with your thoughts. What do you think and believe about yourself, and how is this colouring the decisions you make and actions you take?
Let’s look at an example; you’ve come to your physio with a stiff sore neck, you often experience pain here, but you’ve had enough and want to do something about it. When you get there you have a discussion about your daily habits, postures at work, and activity levels. You admit you used to be more active but life got busy, work more demanding, and free time more rare. After your session you’re feeling great, motivated, ready to make change and full of goals.
And then all of a sudden you’ve got your follow up appointment and you didn’t do your exercises, you haven’t moved much, and you’re not only feeling stiff, but now also guilty. Your thoughts probably sound a little like this, “I was too busy!”, “I’m just not a gym person”, “I can’t be expected to do anything!” “I’ve always been bad at sticking to exercise”, “I’m just a stiff sort of person”, “my back will always be like this”.
Let that go, change the way you think about it. Decide you want to prioritise your health. Think about how good it will feel when you feel great in your body; strong, mobile, healthy, energetic!
Picture yourself like this, imagine your life changing, get emotionally involved with the idea of being in the best shape of your life, and more comfortable within your own body than you realised you could. Tell yourself how happy and grateful you are that you live in a healthy, happy body, that you take such good care of and invest in.
And watch as your behaviours start to change. When you choose to change, when you really get your mind involved, your feelings and behaviours will evolve too. I don’t believe in New Year Resolutions, but I do believe that we all have the capacity to achieve whatever we decide we want.
Yesterday is a good time to start.