How are those new year resolutions coming along – still going strong or fallen by the wayside? The commonest area people try to control is eating habits, life coach and Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner Paul Brown is here to offer some insight.
Over half the population of the UK is now overweight – this worrying trend has been unaffected by the economic downturn and is forecast to get worse. ‘Sizeism’ is a word that is now in everyday language, it can be frustrating for those discriminated against because of how they look. This is especially the case when you consider that overeating is not a conscious choice for the vast majority whose quality of life is affected by it, something that the skinny ones fail to appreciate!
At the start of January battle cries are sounded up and down the land – “This time my willpower is strong and I’m finally going to overcome that habit of overeating to become slim!” The problem, however, is that the more we try and force that part of us responsible for overeating into submission, the more we back it into a corner and it explodes with an episode of binging. The result is that we’re back to square one but, with all the resulting guilt and exhaustion, actually feeling worse than before!
This pattern will be all too familiar to many people – we kid ourselves into thinking “this year I’m really going to change” but, even if we try an alternative to last time, a radically different approach is required – one that will get to the root cause of the issue.
A long-standing habit of overeating is usually the result of the conscious mind failing to solve the problem by itself. Whenever issues of ‘willpower’ arise, it can be incredibly useful to delve a little deeper. Sigmund Freud may have given the subconscious mind a bad name but it’s in the deepest parts of our mind that the cause, and hence the solution, lies…..
The Single Most Important Cause of Overeating
‘Will you lose anything if you reach this goal?’ is often ignored and yet is the most important question to ask oneself when setting goals. Unless it’s properly addressed (and any issues brought into the light) we may experience a part of ourselves sabotaging our efforts. This will resonate with anyone who has ‘fallen off the wagon’. Quite often the answer may be below the radar of the conscious mind but a deeper part of us is actually providing (in its eyes) a useful service. OK the behaviour may be seen as unhelpful or even destructive (in the same way that a neglected child may create a scene to get attention), but there is always a positive intention (or value) behind the actions (as we say in NLP). Only by identifying what this is (reasons will vary between individuals but may include comfort, security, self-esteem etc) will empower a person to find alternative, non self-sabotaging alternatives.
Without engaging with this ‘rogue’ yet integral part of us we’re likely to experience fluctuations in weight for many years to come. Whilst this process is best carried out with help from an NLP practitioner, here are some other useful tips:
1) Focus on what you want (for example being slim and in control of what you eat) rather than current body image or ‘not being overweight’ (the subconscious mind can’t process negatives!) We get more of what we think about – our thoughts shape our future so let’s try and make them good ones!
2) Brainstorm a list of what being in control of eating would do for you. By ‘stepping up’ into our goals we can really bring them alive, and this will provide us with the day to day motivation to develop new habits. For example, if eating sensibly would give you more confidence really imagine what that would be like – what could you see, feel and hear? Also what would other people notice about you? It’s the ‘goal beyond the goal’ that contains the driving force of emotion. Do this exercise for everything on your list – how do you feel about the original goal now?
3) Take ownership of your life – there are people for whom there is a medical cause for being overweight (such as hypothyroidism) but many more who blame circumstances outside their control. These may include genes, upbringing or work-related stress. Like all beliefs, this will create your reality. Taking control may appear daunting at first, but it’s the first step in getting back the life you want to lead – one of possibilities, not restrictions!
Finally, the most important thing to remember is that a desire to change (and having a clear idea of what you actually want) is the single biggest factor involved in success in any field. Our current situation is a result of our past thinking, not our current – every day is truly a fresh opportunity. Good luck!
Find out more at www.empoweringbeliefs.co.uk