I just did my taxes. Big sigh of relief. I dread this time of year like I dread doing laundry after vacation. Every year I get out my big box of the previous year’s paperwork and invoices and sort through them. I put all the various pieces, receipts, papers into piles and folders in their own little informational universes where utility bills never meet trip expenses.
My son helped me this year, for pay of course – grrr. What 12-year-old helps with something so mundane for free out the kindness of his heart? No such luck, however, he was very helpful in exchange for some cold, hard cash. And he got into it – the sorting, that is – helping me file away, the art of putting things into little neat folders, creating order and consistency of the chaotic universe of bills and invoices.
OUR BRAIN’S “I WILL NEVER BE THIN” FOLDER
Doing all of this sorting and filing got me thinking about the inner files that we keep in our minds. Did you ever notice that when it comes to our weight, our brain tends to have this one very thick and heavy folder called “I WILL NEVER BE THIN”? It likes to collect evidence for this folder and it keeps getting bigger and bigger.
In this thick and heavy folder, you will find such beliefs as, “I have a slow metabolism”, “I get bored with healthy food”, “I need food to cope”, ” I am a sugar addict!” and many other beliefs that we keep filed away. Unfortunately, we usually have very little evidence collected that we will succeed at long-term permanent weight release. In fact, where in the heck is that file folder marked “I CAN LIVE MY LIFE AT MY IDEAL WEIGHT”? It’s kind of hard to find at all, huh?
Just like my son and I with my taxes, our brain needs to file things away in mental folders in order to make order of the chaos of life. Unfortunately, once it gets in the groove of filing things into one folder like “I WILL NEVER BE THIN” it’s hard to get it to change course and file things into a different one called “I CAN LIVE CONFIDENTLY AND PEACEFULLY AT MY IDEAL WEIGHT.” This makes it very hard for us to believe that we can ever be successful.
START SHIFTING FILES WITH EFFECTIVE PRAISE
Let me teach you a powerful cognitive tool called EFFECTIVE PRAISE. Effective praise can help you move the evidence from the “I WILL NEVER BE THIN” folder, to the “I CAN LIVE CONFIDENTLY AND PEACEFULLY AT MY IDEAL WEIGHT” folder.
Effective praise is simply the act of observing all the behaviors that you are implementing that take you closer to weight mastery (no matter how small and insignificant they may seem).
Effective Praise: I noticed I took the stairs this morning – that was a healthy choice.
Note that I said observing your behaviors and not evaluating them?? Evaluative praise is a whole different thing, and actually sabotages our attempts at changing our beliefs about ourselves.
Evaluative Praise: I was good because I took the stairs!
OUR MIND REJECTS “I WAS GOOD” AND VOIDS IT OUT
Evaluative praise is when we make what we are doing “good” or “great” – rating ourselves for doing the behavior.
Evaluative Praise: “I was soooo good because I pushed the plate away!”
Evaluative Praise: “I was “soooo awesome because I exercised!!!”
While it’s nice to acknowledge ourselves positively, what happens when we label our behavior as “good”, or any other evaluative type of praise on an unconscious level we just do not buy into that we have been “good” because we have a whole file of evidence that says the opposite – so our subconscious mind tends to reject the sing-songy “I was good” praise as white noise and nothing gets stored in the positive evidence folder. REJECTED! says our unconscious – you aren’t “good” says our Inner Critic, “who are you trying to kid?”
EFFECTIVE PRAISE GETS PUT IN THE IDEAL WEIGHT FOLDER
However, if we instead just take notice of the behavior itself without the “good” then things begin to sink into the murky depths where those evidence files are stored:
Effective Praise: “Hmm…I am noticing that I pushed the plate away and there was food left on it, maybe I don’t need as much food as I thought before – I am noticing I don’t need to eat everything to feel full”.
Our unconscious then perks up its ears and takes note, “That’s interesting – you actually left food on the plate – that is different and moving in the direction of being healthy. Let me store that in my file folder “I CAN LIVE CONFIDENTLY AND PEACEFULLY AT MY IDEAL WEIGHT “.
Effective Praise: “Hmmm I am noticing that if I just get up and put my feet right into some sneakers and stand up, I can get out of bed in the morning and go out for a walk first thing and it feels wonderful!”.
“Aha!” the unconscious mind says, “things are changing a bit, we can follow through on exercise – let me go take that “I hate exercise” belief out of the I WILL NEVER BE THIN file folder and put “I enjoy exercise into that “I CAN LIVE CONFIDENTLY AND PEACEFULLY AT MY IDEAL WEIGHT” folder.
Try effectively praising yourself 10 times a day this week when it comes to behaviors around your weight management. It’s easy.
1) Observe the positive weight management related behavior
2) Resist thinking “I was good!” with evaluative praise
3) Instead try out acknowledging the healthy behavior and how your engaging in the behavior allows you to capably move the needle on your weight mastery
This way the brain doesn’t reject GOOD but starts to accept seeing you in a more capable light and shifts some of those papers in the I WILL NEVER BE THIN evidence folder into the I CAN AND WILL LIVE MY LIFE AT MY IDEAL WEIGHT.
So, even though taxes will still be a burden next year you can lift the weight burden this year from the I WILL NEVER BE THIN file in your mind with effective praise and find that it translates not only into a lighter mind but a lighter you with a much lighter heart!!!
ox Rita Black
Director, Shift Weight Mastery