The Alchemy of Change: 5 Surprising Strategies
If you’re a human being alive on planet Earth, chances are you want to change some things. Perhaps you’re interested in changing your looks, your weight, finances, a relationship dynamic, a quirky personality trait that gets in your way, or an unwanted eating habit, just to name a few. Entire industries are built upon both our desire to change something, and the inherent difficulties that seem to make such changes a nearly impossible task. In the interest of pushing fast-forward on the change button and helping us get to the place we want to be, I’d like to suggest five ingredients that I’ve seen make a powerful difference in any recipe for change. Especially when it comes to our food, health, body, weight, and eating concerns, I’ve noticed how easy it is to get stuck, and feel frustrated or disappointed. That’s why I’ve got a big smile on my face as I offer up these five ingredients – and I’m happy because they work, and I think you’ll agree once you give them a try. As always, I’d love to know what you think:
Change Ingredient #1 – Curiosity
When it comes to changing an unwanted food habit, many of us use the most common strategy that never seems to work in a real and lasting way – we attack our habit. We stand up to it with the ferocity of a carnivore looking to kill and devour its prey. With this approach, it’s easy to see our unwanted emotional eating as a part of us that simply needs to be annihilated. Once this happens, our problem is happily solved. But the real problem is, creating lasting and meaningful change within oneself is seldom achieved by going down the road of self-hate. What if you got curious about your unwanted eating habit? What if you really started asking questions? What if you explored your challenge through new eyes, with the innocence of a child? Curiosity relaxes us. It empowers us. Curiosity actually puts us in the driver’s seat and allows us to intelligently gather data that we otherwise might not have noticed had we been engaged in a brutal fight against our emotional eating. If you lean into your unwanted eating habit with an unrelenting and loving curiosity, a beautiful magic happens. Give it a try.
Change Ingredient #2 – A Warm Heart
Oddly enough, one of the ways that humans are often taught to deal with anything or anyone that disturbs us is to close down our heart. After all, our loved ones often hurt us, friends betray us, and people we believed were trustworthy can surprise us with their selfish behavior. We do the same with self. If there’s something I don’t like about me – I don’t have enough money, I’m carrying too much weight, I eat too much food - our first move is often to withdraw our love from this part of self. Of course, this seems to make sense because why should you love something that’s causing so much pain? When we close down our hearts though, we declare a Cold War. And it’s nearly impossible to shut down our heart in one domain and not have that closed heartedness spill into other places as well. You may not know this, but humans love to be loved into change. Consider the possibility that anything you want to change in your life needs your love. It needs your compassionate understanding. It needs your kindheartedness. An unwanted guest will leave much sooner when you give them the big hug that will help them feel complete. If your heart’s been cold towards anything you wanted to change about yourself, try warming it up and see what happens.
Change Ingredient #3 – A Sharp Sword
If you’ve been sitting in “un-success” when it comes to changing any unwanted habit or symptom in the body, chances are you’ve been trying the same unsuccessful strategies. Perhaps the most common example of this is weight loss. Even though we can’t reach our goal and sustain it, it’s easy to keep enacting the same approach – eat less and exercise more. Unfortunately, I’ve known far too many people who stay stuck in this black hole for a lifetime. A sharp sword means a sharp mind. Sometimes, we need to get tougher when it comes to critical thinking. We need to look in the mirror with clarity, and use our discernment to notice that some of our strategies simply don’t work. A sharp sword means we’re willing to see ourselves in a courageous way, and notice where life is calling for new approaches, new ideas, and a new map to give us the hope of traversing the territory of change with success. So, where do you get lazy and sloppy? Where do you stay stuck doing the same thing over and over again? Where do you need some new input and new ideas from the outside? Where do you need to cut through stagnation? We don’t always like to see these parts of ourselves, but seeing them with a clear mind is crucial to catalyzing real change.
Change Ingredient #4 – See In the Dark
Have you noticed this phenomenon: oftentimes, when we go on a new diet, follow a new health strategy, or commit ourselves to some type of transformational activity to help us change – we hit a wall? Hitting the wall can feel like being stuck, but it can also feel like we’re suddenly lost, confused, and perhaps even worse off than we started. For example, I’ve had so many clients over the years who, when we work on their overeating or binge eating issues, get worse. And of course, at times such as these, we abandon ship. This seems to make perfect sense, because why would we practice any strategy or see any type of coach or counselor where the net result is that we’re eating more, not less? But here’s the trick: things often get worse before they get better. That’s just the way life works. Our unwanted habits often have us in the dark, and it’s easy to be afraid of the dark and run. Learn to see in the dark. This means that we understand that “this too shall pass” and that indeed the darkness really does precede the dawn. Running around the darkness like a frightened child keeps us in fear and stops change. Navigating through the darkness with a sense of trust and dignity empowers change at the most core level.
Change Ingredient #5 – Mentorship
The wonderful thing about changing any unwanted eating habit, or changing our body for the better, is that we feel so good when we arrive at our destination. It’s easy to fall in love with ourselves when we’ve worked really hard and hit the bull’s-eye. The challenge is, there are a lot of us looking to change – and we’ve been looking for too long of a time. Unfortunately, it’s way too easy to get stuck in the same old strategies that produce the same old lack of results. That’s where mentorship comes in. We need other people. No one goes through life alone. For sure, sometimes we can tough it out on our own, yet we live in a world that’s magically and forever interconnected. If the wisdom of life wanted you to do everything by yourself, you would’ve been born on your own planet. Who are the people in life who can help guide you? Who are the ones who have courageously walked down the road that you find yourself faltering on? Who can you lean on? Who can inspire you? And who is raising their hand, and expressing their willingness to hold yours?
So, whether you’re already a coach or helping professional, or you’re one of the billions of highly unique humans who are ceaselessly changing and transforming, I hope you found a bit of inspiration to create the kind of change that your heart and body desire most.
Which of the five ingredients is going into your recipe for change?
Please share your thoughts with us below,and feel free to reach out and learn more about our work and our trainings at the Institute.
My warmest regards,
Founder of the
Institute for the Psychology of Eating
© Institute For The Psychology of Eating, All Rights Reserved, 2014
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