Your words define you, and the conversations we have with ourselves are very important. It’s important to speak to ourselves in the positive and in the present moment. Our brains don’t understand negatives very well, so if you have a goal to not eat cake or not overeat, that’s a goal the brain doesn’t recognize. It understands the concrete information “cake” and “eat.” So the exact opposite of what you wanted occurs. So how you talk to yourself and how it’s phrased is very important. Since so many people focus on weight loss at this time of year, I will use examples from this area, but the techniques can be applied to any goal.
So a very big part of our self esteem issues become being a person who keeps their word, especially to themselves. Every day we tell ourselves we are going to do something we haven’t done yesterday, is a day we destroy our self esteem. Every time we tell ourselves “i’ll do that tomorrow” is a day you have created disappointment in yourself which leads to poor self esteem and depression.
So when you set a goal, it’s imperative that you set one that is truly attainable today, within your grasp today, and within your ability to accomplish it today. Each today creates your tomorrow. So instead of focusing on the 10-20-30 lbs you want to lose, your goal today might be to set a meal plan for today that you can follow today. Changing yourself involves doing one thing different. Every change we make today creates something new. I have often asked patients who want to lose weight to just do one thing different from what they did the day before. One small step towards that ultimate goal, and it has to be something that can be accomplished today. That’s the way you build self esteem. You set yourself a goal for today that you know you can keep and you do it today. When you accomplish that one small thing, it improves your mood and how you feel about yourself, and leads to the next small step. Eventually trial and error will help you figure out the changes you can successfully make and live with and those are the changes that last. And it’s also the reason why diets don’t work, because deprivation and misery don’t result in success. So maybe the one small step you could make would be to start logging your intake. Many of us have “smart phones” now and the easiest way to log your intake is to use an Ap like “My Fitness Pal”. Just entering all you actually put in your mouth will increase your consciousness of your behavior, and that awareness will begin making a change in your relationship to food. So that is the first goal. Maybe a second step could be figuring out if there is one day in the coming week where you could commit to limiting your caloric intake to the suggested amount. Success leads to feeling good, and success breeds more success, and that’s why it’s important to start with something easy to change.
Is your goal to get in shape? You’re already a shape! That’s too undefined and you can’t measure it, so break it down. If you’re not exercising at all, is there one small thing you can do right now? Like right now, could you walk in place for 5 minutes while you’re reading the rest of it. Voila – you exercised today. You are much more likely to achieve success when you make your goals as specific, and as small and attainable as possible. We change gradually, one step at a time, just by being more mindful and aware. So listen to that internal voice. Correct it when you’re phrasing goals too vaguely and make them more specific and much smaller to what can be accomplished today. Doing one thing today towards your long term goals is what improves your ability to feel good about yourself, and becoming a person who keeps their word to themselves is the way to become that person.