Monday, February 17, 2014

2 Tactics To Keep The Change You Worked So Hard To Implement

Changing the way you think is THE hardest thing to do but so worth it
7 weeks into this new year and it is already kicking my butt. 2014 is proving to be a most challenging year because I set out to do something this year, I've not done so intentionally at any other time in my life - change the way I think.

You see it all over inspirational quotes every where - "change your mind, change your life"" or "change your thoughts, change your behavior." While it is perhaps the most cliche of all inspirational thoughts, it is without a doubt the most difficult change to put into action.

To start 2014, I did a drastic diet, The Whole30 - a  grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, legume-free program designed to change the way you eat. Sipping my black coffee today is evidence that it did indeed change my eating habits but that is not why I set out to do the program. I did the Whole 30 to examine the way I think unconsciously about everything and it worked.  Turns out denying myself all my "favorite" and comfort foods for 30 straight days was a doorway to also releasing some long held notions in my brain.

But releasing them alone was the easy part. Recognizing limiting beliefs and thoughts was easy while I was 100% focused on it due to diet and its natural constraints on my eating. What's been difficult is keeping myself from falling back into the same thought patterns now that I am "back to normal" eating wise. Here are two tactics I'm employing that you can use to implement change in the way you think:

Active Reversal

I made that term up but it is really effective. Active reversal is when I catch myself thinking in ways I was thinking in pre-Whole30, I stop and question myself out loud so I hear the words running through my head. This has been a hoot, especially when others were in the vicinity. Having to explain that I am "catching" myself in an old pattern has been a phenomenal way to break it. Additionally, transferring thoughts into active live words help me to see the absurdity of reverting back. Here is an example: One of my challenges (I'm actively trying to abandon) is building a narrative for others. When someone fails to communicate with me well, most often, I just "make up" what's going on  in their head, in my own head. I could write a whole post on why that is so crazy but let's not digress. Recently, while talking to my husband and he was somewhat unresponsive, my mind started to create the words he was not saying so I stopped and said out loud, "he did not say that or anything, let's let go of your narratives, Denise." Not only did we both get a good chuckle from the insanity of me stating this but my husband got a glimpse of why we have been having conflict and took to heart my need for more clear communication.

Positive Pile On

Just the opposite of my previous tactic, Positive Pile On is when I see myself embracing or being open to a different way of thinking, I do one or more things to keep this going. Sometimes, I commend myself - out loud. Atta girl! or Good thinking! are two of my new self-cheers. I also take a moment to record it -either in a journal or in my Awesome Jar where I record all kinds of great happenings to be read at the end of the calendar year. I also share my triumphant new way of thinking with my closest friends/family. Having those around you see you thinking and behaving differently is a very effective way to keep you moving forward. I can remember vividly over this past weekend texting a close friend about a major shift in my thinking and her reply was priceless - she texted back simply "Wow. That's powerful stuff!" Positive piles ons from others are just as important as you own as it is tangible 3rd party evidence of the change. It is very easy to be insular in our change, that is where we fall into self-deception. Having external reinforcement and accountability makes it real.

Changing your thinking and subsequently your behavior is very hard. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.  Take heart and remember why you wanted to change your thoughts to begin with and use all the tactics necessary to keep your change alive. It is so worth it.

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