Sunday, January 28, 2007

Believe it

Next in a series on the mental and emotional adjustments required for long-term change

The famous early-twentieth century escape artist, Harry Houdini, traveled the countryside, locking himself in jails, only to escape, as a method of furthering his reputation (and increasing his audiences). As the story goes, there was only one chamber from which he could not free himself.

Houdini entered the fateful cell and began his usual routine once the iron bars clanged shut. From his belt, he removed a concealed piece of metal utilized to pick locks, and set about as he had done countless times before. Whereby every previous security device had soon swung open, he could not achieve the desired results on this occasion.

Finally, after laboring for hours, bathed in sweat and exhausted, Houdini collapsed in frustration against the cell door, defeated. As he fell against it, it swung wide - it was unlocked the entire time.

Because Houdini believed he was trapped, he was. So too are we ensnared by our beliefs.
If I do not believe I can lose "those extra pounds," all the forces of Heaven and Earth cannot force success upon me. It matters not the number of "experts" and self-help gurus who ply me with easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions, exercise plans, or medical research.

As example, if after losing 12 pounds, I have a temporary setback of two pounds, I will see that as validation of what I already "knew": that I cannot lose weight.

"It was only a matter of time," I'll say to myself. "I knew it couldn't last."

Beliefs influence feelings; therefore defeated and despondent, I think, "Why am I wasting my time?" From thoughts come actions; in this case that would be getting off the scale, tossing my diet materials in the trash, and deciding to give up for now. I revert to old habits. My losses evaporate, my bulks returns.

The final consequence is my beliefs are again validated and the cycle resumes.

The reality about weight loss is that it is not a linear downward progression, even for the ultra dedicated and diligent. Rather, it is a learned skill, trial and error. Successful weight loss is actually losing more weight than one gains; down four pounds, up one, down three, up two. (Picture a stock market chart from a downward Bear market and you get an accurate concept.)

If my belief is that periodic gains are part of the process, I will still feel frustrated and saddened by the setback, but shall continue the course, possibly making some corrections. Two pounds are two pounds; resulting actions differ only because underlying beliefs do.

What we say to ourselves become our beliefs; if they work, they are of value to us. If not, it is vital we change them.

Believe me.

No comments: