“I’ve been avoiding it for more than six months.”
“I know what I have to do. I don’t know why I’m not doing it.”
“It’s almost done. I just have to do it.”
I had a conversation with someone last week that drove home how much our beliefs dictate our behavior. I’m sharing the conversation with you because sometimes we don’t recognize what’s holding us back until we see it in someone else.
I’ll call her Barb (name changed). Barb is one signature away from completing paperwork that would help her move ahead with her life. If she signs the paperwork, she gets access to resources she doesn’t have access to now.
She is one signature away from completing the paperwork.
As we spoke, she said, “I just have to do it, I don’t know why I haven’t completed it. I’ve had the paperwork for six months.”
I could hear the pain and confusion in Barb’s voice. She honestly did not know why she could not complete this one, simple task that would unlock a bright future.
Day after day would slip by and, there it lay, on her counter unsigned. She would forget, or run out of time in the day, or promise herself she would get to it tomorrow.
It Happens to All of Us
Barb’s story might sound familiar to you. We all have tasks that need doing, but we don’t ever seem to get around to them, even when they would benefit us.
Do you have something you know you need to do, but you just don’t do it? Have YOU said, “I just have to do it,”?
When we hit a roadblock like this, we beat ourselves up about being undisciplined, lazy, or stupid, for not doing what we know we should do.
Here’s what that might look like for you.
Maybe you’ve been meaning to get on track with your health in 2020. But somehow, you just don’t do it.
It has nothing to do with discipline.
It has nothing to do with being lazy.
It has nothing to do with being stupid.
It has everything to do with what you believe about yourself.
Barb wasn’t signing the paperwork because once she completed the paperwork, she would be “disabled.” She doesn’t believe she is disabled. This belief is so strong that she may never complete the paperwork that will get her the help she needs.
I’m not advocating for people to claim disability when they aren’t disabled.
I’m advocating for understanding how our beliefs dictate our behavior.
I agree with Barb. She isn’t disabled. That underlying belief is stable and doesn’t need to be changed.
Our Beliefs Dictate Our Behavior
What needs to change is Barb’s belief about what the paperwork means. She needs help to get through what she’s going through. I helped Barb to understand that changing her belief about what completing the paperwork means is the only way the paperwork will be completed.
If she believes completing the paperwork means getting the help she needs, it will be easy for her to sign it and complete the process. If she believes completing the paperwork “makes” her disabled, she will never sign it and she won’t get the help she needs.
Changing her belief is the key to unlocking her ability “just do it.” If she can’t make the change, no amount of discipline will get her to sign the paperwork.
What does this mean for you?
How do you think of yourself? If you think of yourself as, “a middle-aged, fat woman who doesn’t matter anymore,” you won’t do what you need to do to change your health and reclaim your life.
Instead, you will run out of time day after day. You will have one more “bad day of eating,” because you believe you can’t change. You will get to the end of your day and say, “Darn it! I meant to find out more about that program today. I’ll do it tomorrow.”
Here’s How You Can Change This
The first step is identifying these kinds of beliefs. Then we prove them to be false. Then we replace the false beliefs with our new and true beliefs in who we are.
The fitness/nutrition/weight-loss industry is a multi-billion-dollar industry because no one addresses the beliefs that underlie the behavior. Instead, they capitalize on your, “I should,” or “I just have to” mantra.
If you believe all you need is a little discipline, then the latest-greatest fad will take money out of your wallet every time. You will continue to buy “the thing,” fail to lose weight and fail to achieve your health goals. The worst part is you won’t know why all of these things don’t work for you. You’ll continue to be crushed by one failure after the next.
Here’s The Truth
Identifying and changing this belief is not easy. Until you do this work, you will continue to struggle against your body and yourself.
How do You Start to Uncover Your Truth?
Begin with a journal: Yup, plain old pen and paper. You can journal on a laptop or other digital device, but it doesn’t have the same effect on our brain.
Answer These Four Questions:
What is your goal?
Why do you want to achieve the goal?
What obstacles can get (or in the past have gotten) in the way of achieving your goal?
What do you believe will happen when you achieve your goal?
Somewhere between the obstacles and the belief, you may uncover what’s going on in your mind.
If you get through all of that and haven’t figured it out, keep working on it. Find someone to talk to.
Perhaps a counselor, a coach, a spouse, significant other, or best friend.
I was able to help Barb see her underlying belief. Someone who is not you may see right through to what’s holding you back.
You are worth doing the work.
Will it be easy? Probably not.
Will it be worth it? Absolutely YES!