In my late 20s, I started having back pain. To be honest, I was pretty shocked. In my world, only old people had back problems! I went for physio treatments, started to avoid lifting heavy things but otherwise I made no changes. On and off (fortunately never regularly), my back would go, I would be in terrible pain – only to forget about it all as soon as the episode had passed.
In my mid-30s, my back was getting worse, so off I went to the doctor again. Who told me to start exercising regularly, unless I fancied having an operation. Well, the usual happened: I went to the physio, joined the gym and never went. As with a lot of things (incidentally including death...), I just assume it won’t hit me. A back operation? Me? Surely not!
I always had good intentions. I could totally see that it would be good for me to make a change but I clearly wasn’t motivated enough to make lasting changes. And my mantra was: I just have no willpower and I hate sports. Not only did I repeat that to myself continuously, I also told anyone and everyone around me thus reinforcing that belief and blowing it up even further.
Well, well, well – what a load of bullshit! Nothing but a very convenient excuse that didn’t get me anywhere other than further along on the pain journey.
Despite knowing about mindset and old beliefs holding us back etc., I still have plenty of them floating around my life, too. What has changed though, is that I catch myself – sometimes quickly and sometimes not so quickly. One of the things I have learned in the last few things is to NOT beat myself up over my learning process. Yes, it may have taken me very long to reach a more helpful mindset with regard to an issue. But better late than never. And getting (and staying) annoyed with myself is not going to speed up that process in hindsight.
This happened for me in the last months:
- I acknowledged that I was using my “no willpower” belief as an excuse. I can think of enough examples of demonstrating incredible willpower. So, I know I can do it when I choose to. I have stopped talking and thinking about myself in this way. The old thoughts still pop up but I stop myself and change them up when that happens.
- This is an interesting one: I finally admitted to myself that the change I wanted was not only relating to managing my back. I want to lose weight. For the longest time, I pretended I didn’t
care. In this train of
thoughts, I used my back pain to cover up my fruitless efforts to lose weight. Of course I wasn’t getting anywhere as my underlying belief was that I would never lose the weight I wanted to. Again, since realizing this, I am admitting my objective to lose weight to myself. Combined with getting rid of my assumption that losing weight is hard. With regard to my back, this has been helpful because it is increasing my motivation.
- Last week, I did a 5 day fitness challenge for busy people. It was tough and it got my heartbeat up and had me sweat even though it was just 30 minutes each day. And you know what: I enjoyed it! Who would have thought! Not only was I proud of myself once I had done it but while doing it, I enjoyed pushing myself and exhausting myself physically. I remember talking to a friend about exercising at home just a few months ago, and being dismissive about it. I wouldn’t like it etc. I had tried this before but it seems I had simply picked workouts that didn’t appeal to me. My mindset was stopping me from experimenting with it.
Now, I know that this is not a big deal, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t exactly have much importance. The reason I like to share my “little” stories though, is that they are just
examples that can be applied to all sorts of areas in our lives. Being mindful how I was sabotaging myself in this area, is helping me to notice other unhelpful beliefs in other areas. And the change in one area spills over into another.
What unhelpful belief are you dumping this month?