Tuesday, February 05, 2013

What Actually Gets Me to Change?

So I'm preparing to lead this "Illness 2 Wellness" support group for six weeks starting Thursday--very interesting process.  I find that as interested as I am in the tools that have worked for me and others to get well (whole foods, exercise, meditation, gratitude, forgiveness, service), I am perhaps more interested in what gets me to do them.

See, it's my experience that many many people (especially in the new thought or new age world) know (or think they know) what works for them to get well.  For example, I knew for years that if I ate smaller portions of food I would lose weight and keep it off--did I do it?  No.  For years I suspected that if I did daily exercise I would feel better, be happier and lose weight and keep it off--did I do it?  No.

I have more than one friend who struggles with chronic debilitating symptoms that are almost instantly alleviated by eliminating one or more foods (such as sugar or wheat or dairy) from their diet--did they do it?  In most instances, no.

We can know everything in the world about what works for us and be self-help geniuses but if we are not doing it, it's not worth anything.  Who is paying attention to what actually works to get us to change habits?  Who studies it?  In anyone other than rats?  Maybe the focus on the next new diet fad is not so much because we want the easy way out but because we want a way we can do.

Would it be all right with you if life got easier?

Several years ago (I think it was 2005), I attended a 3 1/2 day workshop that significantly closed the gap for me between knowing and doing: that was Mastering Life's Energies taught by Maria Nemeth at the Academy for Coaching Excellence in Sacramento, California--and they pose this question:  would it be all right with you if life got easier?  Years and many workshops later this remains the single most worthwhile educational experience of my life, by yards.

In the years since this workshop, I have been released of 60+ pounds of weight.  My diet and exercise habits have been completely transformed.  I have been given a steady and fulfilling spiritual practice.  Every relationship I have has been strengthened and transformed.  My relationship with money has been healed and transformed.

In this workshop, how to be coachable.  I learned how to actually take the advice I was constantly freely given by the universe and do something different.  And, most importantly, I learned that I can't do it alone.  That I must have other people with whom I check in with on a regular basis and I must have accountability.  It takes 30 consecutive days of doing anything to change a habit.  I cannot flick a switch, set an intention and have a habit changed.  I need to break it down into baby steps, usually with someone else's help.  And I need to say, "today I'm taking this baby step."  And then I need to call the next day and say, "I didn't do it.  Today I'm taking this baby step for real and this is what I'll do differently to support myself in succeeding."  And then I need to call the next day and say, "I did it!  I'm going to do the same thing today!"

I'm not saying you have to take this workshop (although God knows I'd recommend it to anyone for whom this gap seems insurmountable), but if I really want change, I do need support, accountability and small steps.  Twelve step programs provide this for free.  Kaiser Permanente and some other health systems have good support groups set up.  Don't try this alone.

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