If you've ever learned a new skill or exercise, the above situation might feel familiar: The first time you learn how to do something, it feels challenging because new neural pathways are being created (THANKS, neuroplasticity!). The more your nervous system recognizes that pattern, the more natural and ingrained and second-nature it becomes.
The. Same. Thing. Happens. With. Your. Thoughts. The more frequently you tell yourself a story, the more ingrained and a part of you it becomes.
And those stories and thoughts: They turn to into your values and beliefs which turn to your ACTIONS.
Imagine these scenarios:
“I’m fat and disgusting,” you think. You start to believe and see yourself in a world where you are “fat and disgusting”. How do you think you'd treat yourself if this was the story you told yourself all the time?
“I’m so weak,” you think. You start to believe and see yourself in a world where you are “weak”. How do you think you'd treat yourself if this was the story you told yourself all the time?
“Ooh, I am feeling and looking GOOD!” you think. You start to see yourself in a world where you believe you feel and look good. How do you think you'd treat yourself if this was the story you told yourself all the time?
Take a few minutes and give this a thought. I’ll wait.
In your experience, have you been able to snap your fingers and change your habits and actions overnight? Snap your fingers and show up at the gym three times per week? Snap your fingers and eat the appropriate ratio of carbs, proteins and fat?
If you're like me the answer is a big no.
If we truly want to change something in our lives, we have to start somewhere, right? But could it be our Point A should have actually been Point D? Instead of jumping straight into changing our actions, what if we started with changing the stories we tell ourselves FIRST, made THAT Point A?
How do you do that?
Well, I decided to ask my good friend, leadership coach and CEO of WeInspireWe, Tami Chapek. She explains, "[Self] awareness is the mission-critical first step in any kind of self-improvement effort. When wanting to make a change, one must first identify their current beliefs and behaviors around the topic. Easier said than done, I know, which is a huge reason why coaching exists (we don't often take the time to ask or push ourselves on the hard questions).
"Discovering this takes a lot of soulful reflection and time answering 'why' like, 'What are these habits I want to change?' followed by, 'Why do I have these habits in the first place?' and 'What's holding me back/why can't I move forward?'
"Answering these questions with a really honest answer - not the easy answer - is key.
"The 'why' helps us to discover what is going on under the surface and what internal block is getting in the way. In coaching, we say there are four blocks that can stop us from being successful and/or hold us back from making a change:
- Assumption - because something has happened this way before, it will always we this way (i.e. I have never been able to be consistent with working out so why would this time be any different?)
- Interpretation - an opinion that you create about an event or situation in life (i.e. a friend cancels lunch plans so you think it's because they don't want to see you)
- Limiting Belief - something that you accept that limits you; can be cultural but just lacking the belief that something could actually be different (i.e. a woman can't be president)
- Gremlin - the inner voice telling us we aren't enough/negative self talk (i.e. I am worthless without working 60+ hours a week)
"We want to identify what block is holding us back. Each has a slightly different nuance in how you'd try to address it but the overarching theme is to challenge that thought/belief with 'how true is that?' and 'how is that serving you?'. The main idea is to really identify what the block or thought is (awareness is key!!) and then begin to think about how to reframe it, rethink it, challenge it, restructure it, etc."
What are the next steps, you ask?
- Schedule some time with yourself to sit down with a piece of paper, a pen and an open mind.
- Write down what you've been wanting to change.
- Write out anything you think is holding you back. Feel free to make this a stream of consciousness exercise, just write all of your thoughts down without judgement.
- See if anything really strikes a cord and look at what kind of block it is.
- Answer the questions "How true is that?" followed by "How is that serving you?"
- Write a new story for yourself.
Need more guidance or want to be contacted with Tami? Please feel free to reach out to me my email or phone!