Do you believe you’re honest with yourself about most things? Take a minute and really think about that question.
It’s hard to be honest with ourselves. In fact, it takes real courage. Why? Because when we’re being completely, totally honest with ourselves, it means we have to examine the good and the bad: what gives us value (“I deserve to be healthy and strong…”) and perhaps more importantly, what gets in the way of realizing our true potential (“but for some reason I keep cancelling my workouts.”)
Why is this kind of self-inventory so hard to do?
Because it means we have to take responsibility for ourselves and our choices – and not place the blame on our circumstances. Listen, I’ve been there. I’ve woken up and felt like there was NO WAY I was going to go to the gym. I was too tired, too busy, too stressed. I was blaming external factors for what, in truth, were my own choices. Taking responsibility reveals to us how our own actions and reactions can set us up for failure. And it’s sometimes a painful process to really see these patterns.
This is why honesty is the most empowering mindset for initiating real change in our lives.
I have a client who has constantly struggled with his weight. Two years ago, he seemed really committed to his fitness plan but he didn’t make much progress. After awhile, it dawned on him that he wasn’t being honest with himself. It took him two years to fully own his role in being stuck. He realized that ultimately, it was up to him – not me, not some magic fitness regimen or diet – to make the necessary changes. His daily choices held the key to getting him to his goal of losing weight.
And now? He’s now losing weight consistently. In the end, it didn’t really take him two years to shed those pounds. No – it took him two years to learn to be honest with himself about it. And now that mindset supports all the choices he makes. No more excuses.
I get panicked calls all the time from my clients: “Help me! I gained ten pounds over the holidays/ injured my back/have to get into shape for my wedding/have Type 2 Diabetes – and I just don’t know what to do!”
You really don’t know what to do? You don’t know that eating junk food, not exercising, and running around stressed-out of your mind is unhealthy? Time to be honest with yourself and own your role in these choices. Because if you really want to change, you’ve got to start there.
Here are 3 tips for creating a powerful HONESTY MINDSET:
AWARENESS – NOT JUDGMENT
Learn to be curious about the decisions you make and do it without judgment. Eating is a great example because there are so many reasons why we eat that go beyond just keeping ourselves healthy. Are you hungry? Are you stressed? Did you smell or see something that triggered you? Learning to be aware of your motives is a great first step.
You can go pretty deep with this awareness thing. Why did you stop working out? Is it really that you don’t have the time or is it just not as important to you? Do you go when you feel motivated and then stop when that feeling goes away? What creates that feeling of motivation?
Here’s an example of how your perspective can affect your choices: people who go to the gym consistently will focus on how they feel AFTER they work out: energized, relaxed, loose, strong, and accomplished. People who struggle to commit to fitness tend to focus on how they feel BEFORE they work out: tired, slow, tight, weak. Look at how just being honest with how you see exercising can help you with ideas on how to replace a bad habit with a good one.
“CREATIVE” CAN BE FOUND IN THE WORD “REACTIVE”
One of my favorite quotes is by the Greek philosopher, Epictetus: “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” Being honest with yourself starts by learning to PAUSE when something happens and creating a space between STIMULUS and RESPONSE. This pause gives you a moment before you attach a reason in your mind about what just happened. It’s a powerful tool for replacing automatic behavior with mindful choices. You can start by developing an awareness in your day-to-day life – during your commute or a conversation with a loved one – to see whether your immediate reaction to situations is a constructive one.
DECIDING AND TAKING ACTION.
The third part of the HONESTY MINDSET is learning to choose what to do next. You’ve become more aware, you’ve learned to slow down and pause before reacting and have created a mindful way to respond. Now it’s up to you to take responsibility for every choice you make. Ask yourself these three questions:
- What do you really want to change in your life?
- What habits or behaviors have led you to this place?
- What can you do to stop that behavior and replace it with a new one?
Then remember that it’s YOU who is in charge. It’s YOU who drives this bus. Remember:
- I can believe this or I can believe that.
- I can respond this way or I can respond that that way.
- I can take action by doing this or by doing that or by doing nothing (which is also taking action).
Imagine what you can accomplish by using this awareness to start moving yourself in a new direction – the one that you’ve been envisioning but haven’t really begun.
Habits are the secret to changing anything in your life. Start by being honest with yourself.
Phil Dozois, Owner, Breakthru Fitness