I was shamelessly eavesdropping on two women at the gym yesterday (I totally do that).
One was telling the other about how she’d been doing so well with her diet – had even lost some weight – but then had gone away with her husband to a wedding and totally fallen off the wagon. Before she knew it she’d had a huge plate of pasta, two pieces of cake and three glasses of Champagne. I could hear how miserable and ashamed she felt.
“I don’t know why I always do this,” she was telling her friend. “It’s like I get around certain foods and all that willpower just flies out the window. How is it that I can do burpees until I want to puke, but can’t say no to a stupid piece of cake?”
I hated hearing her beat herself up like that. It’s something I hear all too often.
And this is where my GPS comes in.
I was reminded of a time a few years ago, I was driving my daughter to a hockey tournament in a city several hours from where we live. On the way to the arena I got totally turned around and lost (I have the worst sense of direction). We were running late for her first game, snow was making the roads a little slippery and I was lost in a strange city.
Luckily, my trusty little GPS device kicked in, helped me get un-lost and we made it to the game on time. Phew!
After the stress of the drive was over, I realized something. When you take a wrong turn in your car, and you realize you’re on the wrong road, your GPS doesn’t panic and start judging you for turning left when you should have turned right. It doesn’t tell you you’re weak for making a turn too early or being in the wrong lane to merge. It doesn’t start to dismay that, at this rate, you’ll probably NEVER get where you’re trying to go.
It just calmly reroutes you to the next best road to get you to your destination.
No judgement, no guilt, no shame. Just “what’s the next best choice?”
Now, you know that I’m all about getting curious and investigating the thoughts and feelings that are driving our behaviors. Developing a clear understanding of WHY we keep falling into the same old habits is an absolutely essential first step in changing them, but, just as important as the investigation, is the LETTING GO as soon as you’ve learned what you need to learn.
Thoughts are powerful things. The more you think a thought, the more likely you are to think it again. And when think a thought over and over again for a long time, it becomes a belief.
And our beliefs are what ultimately determine our behaviors.
The great news is that, you get to choose the thoughts you think. You may not be able to control the thoughts that first pop into your head, but you do control which of those thoughts you energize and allow to continue running around up there.
So, the next time you make a not-so-great choice, use my GPS as a role model.
When you take the left turn when you should have taken the right, simply notice what’s happened and reroute yourself to the next best road towards your goal. Let go of all the judgement (the “I always,” and “I should,” and “why can’t I?” thoughts) and instead just move forward towards the next best action you can take from right where you are.
She’s pretty smart that little GPS 😉
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Love this analogy. Brilliant.