Two weeks ago we talked about my friends “George and Diane”. They were lamenting the deep challenges of sustaining long-term weight loss having both reduced their weight by significant amounts several years ago only to watch every pound return home and, once their weight had reached its original number, the weight gain continued by adding a sizable bonus.
We discussed how their experience mirrors that of the vast majority of people attempting long-term personal change and is, sadly, more the norm than the exception.
Which begs the question, why is long-term, permanent change so elusive?
In 1960, Dr. Maxwell Maltz, a renowned cosmetic surgeon, published Psycho Cybernetics: A New Way to Get More Living Out of Life and took the world by storm.
Dr. Maltz spoke of many of his patients who, upon recovering from rhinoplasty (more commonly known as a nose job) and looking in a mirror, were incapable of seeing their new nose and still saw a reflection of the old one that had been completely reshaped.
Dr. Maltz referred to Psycho Cybernetic as self-image psychology and explained what he calls the “mirror of the mind” – the image we see of ourselves – which is precisely how we will see ourselves despite any evidence to the contrary.
Going back to my friends George and Diane, and the tens of thousands just like them, they dutifully followed all the behaviours necessary to experience the dramatic weight loss they briefly enjoyed however, as hard as they worked on adopting new nutrition behaviour, no effort went in to changing the long-held images they both hold of who they really are.
In other words, if we truly wish to bring massive, lasting change to our lives, we need to create the habits that will both produce the results we want and allow us to keep them.
The foundation upon which our habits rest are those very things we believe to be true of ourselves.
Until we begin the change process at the beginning of the equation – working very hard to change what we believe to be true of ourselves (our self-image) the odds of successfully maintaining the very changes we so desperately want are extremely slight.
As we have previously discussed, every thought in our heads which in that moment represents something we believe to be true, immediately triggers emotion within us. The emotion encourages/causes us to take some form of action (this could be as slight an action as changing our facial expression or as large a one as standing up from a seated position).
And by repeating this process over and over is how we form habits.
Unfortunately, as we discussed two weeks ago, the standard practice for bring about change is to focus entirely on what we believe to be the behaviours necessary for that change to take place. And when we do this we will almost certainly experience some form of positive result.
Unfortunately, as so many of us have frequently experienced, the result is fleeting, the old behaviours return and we revert right back to where we started, just a little bit more jaded by the experience.
I have long been fascinated by the seemingly unlimited, almost miraculous power that resides in each of us. Our brains are capable of far more than many of us believe and we often go through life without ever tapping into the most powerful resource we have – our mind.
Doing so requires commitment and effort, starting with what we believe to be true. In fact, I’ve often wondered how many of us, including those who devote much time and effort to both nourishing and conditioning their bodies, spend much, if any, time developing the very thing that enables us to do everything we do.
Perhaps it’s time to take a long look at that old cliché, “It’s all in your head” and finally realize that it really is.
Till we read again.