Have you ever thought “I can’t handle this”, “I have failed”, “It’s too hard”, or “I don’t have time to exercise”? Did you stop and examine your thought? When you step back and look at these defeatist comments, you will find that they are all untrue. Often we make things more difficult than they need to be by the thoughts and beliefs we hold onto. It is time to listen to the way you are talking to yourself.
Here are some questions to ask when you start to have negative thoughts. These can work on any area of your life where your thoughts are undermining your progress.
- "Am I over generalizing the situation?"
For example, you may have eaten a huge dinner that was full of high fat foods, but you haven’t failed. You stuck to your plan the rest of the day, and tomorrow is a new start. By having an all or nothing attitude, you actually give away your control. You feel awful, and you stop trying to do something about it. It is much more productive to give yourself a break for a mistake, and take back the reigns of control.
- "Is there a positive way to view what has happened?"
It seems unfair that you worked so hard to lose weight without any results to show for it. But, you did find out that you can follow through on your exercise goals. You are building better habits that are benefiting your health. Dwelling on the negative does nothing to move you in a positive direction.
- "How would I encourage my friend if they had this problem?"
If your friend was upset that she had gained 5 pounds, you would never say "you can’t lose weight so why even try!" You would give her your support and let her know you believe in her. We are so much harder on ourselves than we would ever think of being to someone else. Speak to yourself with the same compassion you would use to encourage your friend. You deserve the same respect. Anything less is demotivating. You certainly don't want that.
- "Is this thought going to help me?"
Saying "I don’t have time to exercise" is not going to get you where you want to be. It is more helpful to consider how you can work movement into your busy lifestyle. Get creative, and build from there.
Or, maybe you are just having a generally unhelpful thought. Saying, “this isn’t going to work” is not helpful. Banish that thought and move on!
- And lastly, "are my expectations realistic?"
It is possible that you have set yourself up for failure by making your goal unreasonable. Maybe you will get to the point where you can take an hour long walk after work. Yet, if that doesn't fit into your life right now, start with 15 minutes. Set yourself up for success! With each little success, you are closer to where you want to be, and you will build momentum to begin taking more adventurous steps.
Try this. Write down these questions, and put them somewhere prominent. This will remind you to question the thoughts that pop in your head. If you have a good question to uncover an unprofitable thought, leave it in the comments below.