Last year, a client of mine was experiencing big change (but there was one small problem).
On one hand, three months in, his healthy habits looked completely different. He was pumping the vegetables, eating clean and whole food, letting go of the obsessive and punishing relationship with the scale and gaining massive amounts of energy. However, around the holidays and over vacation, he gained five pounds. He was frustrated and judging himself, afraid this was another indicator that nothing would work for him for more than a few weeks.
I told him simply to focus on the action he is taking toward that goal, instead of the weight-loss itself. He may have wanted to punch me, and I wouldn’t have blamed him. When we are scared, when we are frustrated, when we are in pain, all we want is to be OUT of that. The last thing we want to do is learn from the messages it is sending us (that may very well lead us to sustainable success) or listen to ANYONE telling us to relax into it and keep moving forward. Stay tuned for what wound up happening with him.
So what’s the big reveal? What is the biggest mistake? Drum roll please….
Focusing on the goal, instead of the process. (Hint, hint) The PROCESS is actually the GOAL.
So many times, we focus on what we can’t control (in his case, the number on the scale) and not on what we can (getting back on track with empowering eating patterns).
It was clear he was still in process, and while there was incredible empowerment happening in his life, he was still growing and learning in his relationship with food. He hadn’t hit the point where his habits were consistent enough to see real external result. I told him to trust that he is on a journey, and the click would happen when it was SUPPOSED to happen. There was a reason he wasn’t successful in his previous attempts, and he was still in the process of setting himself up for sustainable success.
Right around that time, something shifted. He took a huge empowerment step in his life . He stood in crazy vulnerability with a personal relationship and found resolution he had been waiting thirty years for. Around that time, he recognized his real potential for personal power. Of course, his relationship with food also started to shift. He started using it differently, taking moreresponsibility for himself and how he was nourishing his body. It was crazy to see the result. He lost 16 pounds in a month, all without the usual dieting approach he had taken in the past, and in the following months and even after working together, he has continued losing weight consistently. Something clicked in big time.
By the end of our working together, he said he got more than he ever asked for, but if you had asked him 3/4 of the way through the process if he was successful, he probably would have said a definitive “nope.”
Oftentimes, real (and sustainable) change comes into play when the “click” happens, when internal clarity and external action intersect into continued aligned action, and there is no distinct time line for that, no matter how much we want there to be one. It looks different for everyone. External aligned action is the easy part. It is based on gaining knowledge. Knowledge is an easy gap to bridge. We can learn how to cook. We can learn how to de-stress. We can learn what foods work best for our body, listen to our hunger, and how to exercise. The same can be applied to ANY other growth process.
The harder aspect of growth are the murkier waters between US and consistent EXTERNAL action. It is why I hear all the time, “I know what to do, I just don’t do it.” Sound familiar?
If internal growth was as clear as the external actions steps in life, we would all have what we want. External action is always figureoutable. In my experience, it is the mindset, self-judgment, resistance, self-sabotage, fear, limiting beliefs, and disempowerment in one’s own life that keep us in the same cycles and that people MOST need support with.
When we focus too much on the result and goal (the weight loss, the bank account, whether or not we get the specific job), we start to cut off what is possible as we let perfection become the enemy of the good. We get tunnel vision and start reaching for quick fixes out of panic. We become frustrated and want to surrender and succumb to self-judgment if it isn’t working on OUR PERSONAL CLOCK. We start to predict what is possible by what has happened so far, and assume defeat.
When it comes to fundamentally shifting your relationship with food, with your body, with your LIFE, it is a process. Depending on where you are in your own personal understanding, you may start to see results immediately OR it may take awhile. There is no overnight fix, no diet, no work out program that can change these things for us. They may INFORM our internal states, but they are not equipped to heal us. Only we are capable of that. Healing and making progress takes time, patience and surrender, and you can ONLY be where you are, as you move through that. You can’t tele-transport to another time and place where you have magically had the realizations you need to have that lead to consistent action. How fast or slow you are taking those steps has everything to do with doing the deeper work of your own resistance.
“If you want to move to another room, you have to get up and move step by step in that direction. Just sitting in your chair and demanding that you be in the other room will not work.” ~Louise Hay
So, how can you REALLY set yourself up for success when trying to lose weight, trying to heal, trying to CREATE in your life?
1) Create the container for what it is you want (dream, dream dream), take the aligned external actions and then SURRENDER to how and when it will show up for you. Assume the universe is smarter than you, and that if the “problem” is still with you, you are still learning from it.
“The prizes of life are at the end, not the beginning; and it is not given to me how many steps are necessary to order to reach my goal. Failure may I encounter at the thousandth step, yet success hides at the next bend in the road. Never will I know how close it lies until I turn the bend. Always I will take another step. If that is of no avail, I will take another, and then another. In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult.” ~Og Mandino, The Greatest Salesman in the World
2) Take the 10,000 Foot View
In anything you have ever worked hard for and accomplished, there were ups and downs, right? There were light moments and dark moments. Take investing for example. You may see your bank account go up drastically over time, but there are always moments when it sharply declines for a bit before creeping back up. This is why my husband tells me not to look at our investment accounts (because he knows I’ll want to yank the money out). Even in childbirth (I’m 34 weeks pregnant, that is why I know this), there are times when labor stalls and even regresses before progressing at a fast rate. A woman can take 20 hours to go from 1cm to 5cm, stall out for a bit, and then go from 5cm to 10cm and give birth in 45 minutes. It is not a linear process, and neither is personal growth. But if that woman assumed it would take 20 more hours after 20 hours of pushing, she would probably start all out panicking.
3) View “failure” as an incredible learning tool instead of a forecaster.
Failure is the most amazing part of the process and our biggest teacher. Stepping out of alignment and making mistakes is part of the process to deeper understanding of HOW to empower ourselves. I am still figuring this out daily as I step in and out of alignment with what feels good to me. When we can clearly see how we are stepping out of alignment with external action, it gives us clues into our internal life. It starts becoming a problem only when we find meaning in the failure. We assume it means something about us, and we start to self-judge, which is painful. When we are in pain, we tend to shut down or shut off and try to protect ourselves. We rebel. We halt our journeys. Momentum stalls.
Instead, notice your patterns as if you were a coach trying to help you. Try to observe yourself as if you weren’t you, and you will start to see incredible things there. Step OUTSIDE of yourself and give yourself advice as if you were giving it to someone else.
So, if you are on a health or personal growth journey, breathe, surrender, and keep taking aligned action in the moments of darkness. They don’t mean anything about you or what is possible for you. One foot in front of the other and you WILL reach your destination (and it may look very different from you thought was even possible).
Rock On & Be Well,