Have you ever found yourself arguing with one of your children, only to realize later how stupid and pointless it was?
“You need to clean your room.”
“I don’t want to clean my room.”
“But you need to, because I need some help around here.”
“I’m tired, and I don’t feel like it.”
“Well I’m tired, too. I’m tired of constantly cleaning up after everyone.”
“But I cleaned it up yesterday!”
And then finally you simply pull the ripcord and put a stop to the whole thing. You tell them to clean their room — because you said so. The end.
It’s easy to see in this scenario how unnecessarily powerless you’re making yourself — and how easy it would have been to just exert your power in the first place. But this is exactly what happens with your approach to losing weight — it’s just not so obvious.
When you stop and investigate what’s happening, you’ll find that you’re engaging in a useless back-and-forth with yourself. And it’s not just useless . . . it’s putting obstacles in your path.
“I’m not going to eat cookies this afternoon.” “But you’ve been so good all day, you deserve it.” “But all those cookies add up.” “You can make up for it on your run tomorrow.” “Nothing’s ever going to change if I don’t just stop doing this.” “You have to enjoy your life . . . you can’t just starve yourself!”
Does this sound familiar? What you’re doing here is creating resistance that will either force you to use willpower to overcome or result in a binge on the cookies to relieve the resistance. It’s like building a wall that you’ll have to climb over to get to your destination.
The irony is that the hardest thing isn’t avoiding whatever it is you’re trying not to do — it’s enduring that insufferable voice that makes it seem like whatever it is you’re trying not to do is so hard.
Wouldn’t it be easier to just shut that voice down, exert your power, and take action? The answer is yes.
To be clear, I’m not saying that you should pick the side that’s telling you not to eat the cookies and then force yourself not to eat them. I’m saying abandon the whole conversation. If you want to eat the cookies, eat them. And if you don’t want to, don’t. The point is to put yourself in a a position of power — make a choice, be decisive about it, and take action.
Here are some powerful tactics you can use to start shutting that voice down:
Get busy. Time and boredom are your enemy — they’re like a petri dish for growing the voice. Don’t give yourself hours to sit there and agonize whether you’ll have what it takes to stop yourself from eating.
Go for a walk, run some errands, do something fun with your kids. Don’t let your mind obsess about food or eating. And the more action you take the better — taking massive action builds your confidence and your power, obliterates that voice, and makes it effortless to decisively act when it’s time.
Prep it. Don’t just wake up and roll out of bed, ready to do nothing but react all day. Prepare for seeing your mission through to the end.
If your goal is to work out, eat a healthy lunch, and avoid snacking on cookies, set yourself up for success. Set your alarm, lay out your yoga pants, prepare your lunch ahead of time, and get some chopped-up fruits and veggies in containers, ready to go.
Leave nothing to chance. Make it easier — not harder — to achieve your goals. Don’t give that voice a chance to creep in.
Send a signal. Have a physical signal you can use to jar yourself out of that conversation if you hear it starting. Clap your hands once really hard, shout out an emphatic “No!,” do a front kick or an air punch — the more ridiculous you feel, the more effective it is. Having a tangible reminder of your decision to override that voice makes it a lot easier to take action.
Don’t overthink everything. In fact, don’t think at all . . . act!
Simply walking away from the snack drawer and feeling totally in control is a thousand times more satisfying than the binge you think will make you feel better. And if you decide you want to have a few cookies after lunch, walk over to the drawer, get a few out, put them in a plastic bag, and place them next to the salad you’ve got prepped. And eat those cookies, and feel amazing that you decided to!
If all this sounds easier said than done, it’s actually not. Test out these tips, and you’ll immediately see how amazing it feels to exert your own power. You’ll feel like being let out of prison — and you’ll realize you had the key all along.