When people go nuts in the short term, they burn out, they don’t learn how to change their lives which we have discussed before. What is far more important is we learn a “learning” way of thinking as well. If I give you a piano and say – “play like Mozart”, of course you couldn’t even if you have the best piano in the world. A lot of people forget that the path they are on is like this, it takes time and practice but often they give up after a few weeks if they haven’t got the results. In a few weeks of piano practice, most people can only play hot cross buns, and the same is true for these practices of the mindset and indeed any lifestyle change. So remember you are growing here and improving so enjoy the journey. Improving yourself is a wonderful thing that will help you and others around you.
This is one of the most important tips following the last video – change your internal dialogue in real time. We all have a little voice and conversation to ourselves constantly in our minds and that voice can be our best friend and therapist and cheerleader and teacher or it can be a cruel, cold and harsh enemy. In my experience, especially those who are overweight, this internal conversation is critical or cruel which reinforces the exact behaviour we don’t want.
However, as I made clear in the previous videos we can change our brain and minds. Here is one technique to do it. We can immediately alter our internal language to be more supportive and that reinforces the behaviour we do want and that in turn rewires our brain so longer-term patterns can form. I also want you to start practising talking to yourself like you would talk to your best friend or the person or even animal you love most in the world. That is called self-compassion. You don’t have to do it all the time, even just once a day is great, but just start being aware of your thoughts and internal dialogue, and start to change it and then ACT in accordance with that new change. How would your best friend talk to you if you were struggling? How would your dog or family member feel if they saw you suffering? What would they do if they saw that? They would do anything to help right? Now we have to find that in ourselves. We have to be our own teacher, healer and closest friend. At least once a day!
Let’s go through 3 examples:
- You know you want and need to start moving more. So you prepare to go after work. But at the end of your work day you feel a bit tired and your internal conversation kicks in “o i am too tired to go… I won’t be able to do much”. So try this instead and notice its biological effects on you, say to yourself “I feel great when I go to the gym, I have so much energy after I finish”
- Let’s say you go out for dinner with your friends. On the menu is pizza and tasty salads. Your internal conversation might go like this “O I want to pizza but I can’t have it, I have the salad which is a bit boring” “I deserve a pizza as a treat”… then you have the pizza and you say “O I am weak, I failed” etc. So try this instead: “I love eating well and feeling strong and energetic” “I feel deeply satisfied when I eat fresh food” and if you had the pizza “that’s ok I am human, that was my treat for the week and now I am going to have a great week eating fantastic real food”
- The last one is based on self-compassion which we discussed before. I want you to be really aware of the language you use towards yourself. Is it positive and supportive? Or negative and critical? Next time you do something you are proud of, regardless of if it has to do with your weight or not, I encourage you to say to yourself “thank you, I am doing this because I want the best for me” or “I love myself and I support myself”. This sounds a bit cheesy but it is important and can be tough if you have never done it and are so used to being cruel to yourself, but remember – you can change this, speak to yourself as if you were your own best friend, because you have to be! When you catch yourself being critical of yourself, identify why. If there is a good reason, like you were lazy or impatient or angry, then acknowledge that “yes I should not have acted like that, but I will do better in the future. I forgive myself now. We all make mistakes and I am human too”, then you can turn it around again to the positive language. “I am happy I noticed this and am growing to be a better person”.
So you can apply these principles to everything. I don’t expect you do this all the time, but do it at times and feel its effects – be aware of the internal dialogue and alter the language in your favour. This can be done constantly and has an immediate mind and body effects. It seriously is a really powerful practice that many patients have found effective.
Dr Kirsten Neff TED talk on YouTube