Who are you? Yep, I’m jumping right in with this profound, maybe even existential question. It’s important to think about this, especially, if you are seeking change, because the labels used to define a person are not fact. They are a way of categorizing and boxing people in which becomes a hinderance to possibility, imagination, and creativity. At the same time, they shorten the path to finding your tribe, getting connected and feeling like you belong somewhere. So while there are some benefits, what I really want to talk about is how those labels and stories we create about ourselves get in our way and how to get unstuck.
For as far back as I can remember, I was the “fat girl.” Yes, I used the F word because, let’s be honest, the voice in our head is not sweet and politically correct. It can be a harsh and critical world in there. I let that define me, hold me back from so many experiences. Now, you would not have known that I hated wearing shorts or going to the beach when I was younger because it was easy to hide the stuff I felt self-conscious or shame about, and instead, put a smile on my face. I’d make up some excuse why I could not go. I am sure if you asked my friends from Junior High on through grad school, most would not have known that internal battle I was fighting. If I had continued to hold onto that story, there is no way I would be here today as I am now. I had to change who I was and how I saw myself to adopt a healthier way of being.
These are my key lessons along the way:
When you are trying to change a habit, it’s not helpful to think about the thing that you are not. I am not a runner, I am not fit, I am not a reader, I am not smart. That just fuels this story that is not actually real. It is not a fact, it is made up. It stems from making meaning out of past experiences, both successes and failures. Over time, those patterns of relating are repeated and become part of your character and your identity. Eventually, that way of thinking and acting become automatic. If we are not mindful of this, when we get triggered and have that feeling all over, we act the same as we would have behaved in the past. Just remember what is comfortable isn’t always healthy and what is uncomfortable may actually lead to a new norm that is healthier.
Wear the damn shorts NOW. “Act as if” you are already there. Start doing the things that you aren’t comfortable with now. This comfortable and predictable way of relating is not always functional and being tied to the comfort keeps you stuck. If you want to be a runner, maybe you start by walking which progresses to walking with a 30 second jog every few minutes, which progresses to a 1 min run, 1 min walk and so on. It may take awhile to claim this new identity and you may feel like a fraud. Do it anyway. Eventually your actions will be in alignment with this identity.
Be patient because Time. Time. Time. It took me a year and a half to transform my body, but it was not until 3 YEARS LATER that I knew I was not going back. My habits and lifestyle were integrated into who I was. The slow and steady weight loss allowed my body and my mind to change together at a similar cadence. In my experience, fast weight loss changes your body and at the same time it does not give your mind time to shift. You have to change who you are and how you see yourself as a person, not just what you do.
Enjoy the process. If you are hating every moment of everything you are doing to change, do you actually think it will be sustainable? Nope. That doesn’t mean that you should ditch it if at first it requires work. Anything good is worth fighting for. Set realistic expectations that you will have struggles and feel burdened about time to time. It is the return on your investment along the way that will reinforce the why and your commitment to your goal. One of my clients put it so perfectly when she said “I’m chasing the feeling.” Outcomes are helpful and what is even more useful is the feeling you get out of doing things in alignment with your true self. If you strip away that story that is holding you back and do what feels authentically good even when you are afraid, you will be rewarded with all the feels.
Start TODAY. Envision who you want to be. Pro tip, don’t listen to your head here, go with your gut, that intuitive part of you. As Marie Kondo would say, that thing that “sparks joy.”
If you want to be more courageous, what does that look like as far as the choices you make or how you show up in conversations with others. If you want to lose weight, imagine what that will look like as a lifestyle for you. Have a side hustle that you’re passionate about? Visualize and define what you’d do every day to grow it.
Share your vision with me below. Let’s get there together.