Whether you achieve or fail at a goal is typically determined before you ever start. This is because we often give power to thoughts that don’t serve us. These thoughts undermine our success by creating mental roadblocks or limitations on achievement. Whether you are looking to lose weight, stop smoking or achieve other wellness goals, you must challenge established norms and preconceived notions. Success begins and ends with managing your thoughts. What thoughts you give power to will have power over you.
What is normal?
What we perceive as normal is not fixed. Since normal is the usual or average state of condition, it changes as societal standards adapt to new information and cultural influences. For example, historical norms such as women being excluded from the workplace, segregation and smoking on airplanes are no longer socially acceptable. Similarly, new information changes what is considered “normal” care in medicine. Bloodletting, for example, was used by doctors to treat most ailments for over 3,000 years and only stopped during the late 19th century. In the 1950’s, lobotomies where commonly used to treat mental illness. These once widely acceptable practices are not viable considerations in our world today. What we perceive as normal changes depending upon our social context, information and priorities. New norms evolve because someone had the courage to ask, “what if there is another way?”
Why question everything?
If you continue to do the same things you’ve always done, you are going to get the same results you’ve always gotten. Ultimately, your ability to question existing thought patterns is necessary to achieve different results. In the pursuit of any goal, our thoughts drive emotions, actions and, inevitably, our results. If we don’t question our thoughts, we are giving into established patters of behavior and will eventually get the same results.
The thoughts we accept as permanent or normal often don’t serve us well. Often, we indulge in thoughts that undermine our success, such as “I am big boned,” “Being healthy is expensive,” or “I don’t have the time to dedicate to changing my health.” We accept these as truth, which creates permanent road blocks to achieving any other outcome. It is difficult to change these thought patterns if we aren’t questioning them. Challenging these established, fixed believes is the only way to achieve different results.
Our minds will work to prove our current thoughts. Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or can’t, you are right.” While witty, this statement is also spot-on. If you believe you have no control over what you eat, you will ONLY recognize instances where you have no control over what you eat. If you tell yourself your mother does not support you in your efforts and endeavors, your mind will work to find examples of your mother not supporting you.
There is nothing wrong with your mind. Our brains have evolved to be efficient. Continuing to perpetuate old, fixed thought patterns, is far easier and more efficient than learning something new, seeing something differently or accepting a new possibility. The mind likes established ideas, which we perceive as tried and true. As we establish thoughts and ideas, our brain creates neural connection. Practicing these thought patterns reinforces the strength of these neural connections making it more difficult to change our minds. When we try to find better thoughts, this physiology is both an advantage and disadvantage. When we find better thoughts, our brain will look for evidence to prove and reinforce these thoughts. The more our brain sees evidence of those new thoughts, the more efficient our mind will get at thinking those thoughts. This work, however, is difficult because it requires breaking old neural connections and establishing new connections.
Question everything: How to change your results
If you want different results, be open to challenging your established beliefs. Ask yourself to critically evaluate beliefs that are not serving you. This can open your mind to other options , which you previously have never considered. Just asking yourself “what if?” puts your brain to work finding possible answers. Instead of believing “I’m big boned” ask “What if my weight isn’t about being big boned?” This will be the start of many questions, such as “Can I lose weight?” or “What actions do I need to take to achieve my goal weight or improve my health?”
Probably the most important question to ask yourself is, “How would my life look if this wasn’t my belief?” or “If I was freed from this belief, how would my life be different?” This provides you a compelling reason to look for different thoughts. We know that thoughts drive our feelings, actions and results. If you want different results, you need different thoughts. This question gives you the inspiration to find those different thoughts.
What questioning your thoughts looks like in action:
In conclusion, challenging fixed beliefs is difficult. It is far easier on your brain to assume fixed beliefs are true than to consider a different way. Believing something is beyond your abilities is safe and easy because you aren’t required to make a big leap or take action towards your goals. You won’t fail because you’ve already failed – or at least, you haven’t tried. Questioning existing thoughts and established, fixed beliefs can be transformative. If you are ready to achieve new results, contact me for a mini coaching session and together we can explore what life and weight coaching can do to help you reach your goals.