According to the National Science Foundation, the average person has anywhere between 12,000 and 60,000 thoughts daily, with 80% of those thoughts being negative in nature. I wasn’t entirely surprised to read this statistic as I believe many of us spend a lot of time wrapped up in our own heads analyzing, criticizing, judging, or spiraling to a place of negativity.
Negative thoughts aren’t inherently bad, but can get in the way of making healthy changes to your lifestyle. When it comes to change, we use negative thoughts as a catalyst for change compared to positive ones. While I applaud anyone who can spring into action and commit to change, the process may not last long when it is driven from a place of negativity. Inherently there is a downside to change when it is driven by fear-based thoughts, being preoccupied by the comparison trap, or even guru-driven inspiration.
At Metabolic Living, we place a lot of emphasis on getting your SHMEC (sleep, hunger, mood, energy, cravings) in check, since that is an indicator of your metabolism being in balance; however, what happens with the volatility of your SHMEC when you are struggling mentally? How does your SHMEC change when you are critical of yourself or spending a lot of time in judgment? How might your SHMEC be different if there was more of a focus on complimenting yourself or treating yourself with more grace and compassion?
Maybe it is time to spend a little less time at the gym or set aside a preoccupation with creating a perfect meal planning system and instead place a heavier focus on building your mindset muscle through some detective work. I highly suspect this work will be more difficult than any other lifestyle change you wish to make if this is a new concept to you, but the payoff can be huge.
Long-term success with lifestyle change has to involve changing your own psychology. I’ve heard that 20% of weight loss or shape change could be described as “mechanical”. Meaning, what you eat, how often you eat, or how intensely you exercise involves simply going through the motions – otherwise described as a bit of an auto-pilot response. Execution of these lifestyle changes may involve just going through the motions without extreme mental work.
But what about the other 80%? The remaining portion of this work is mental. Meaning, you have to exercise a strong mental muscle to handle the challenges, obstacles, and stress that is naturally a part of change.
How can you become a better mindset detective? Let’s review 4 ways to strengthen your skills in this area of your life:
- Set aside some time daily to tune into your own awareness and practice observing your own habits or behaviors with curiosity rather than critiquing and judging. As part of this practice, try to identify triggers that throw you off mentally. Consider that these triggers may be environmental, as in your cues within your home or the people that surround you. Or, these triggers may be physical, like a night of poor sleep or a day of high stress. Don’t forget to think about the triggers that can also come from within, including repetitive thoughts, judgments, and beliefs that challenge your consistent actions.
- Practice becoming a reverse engineer. Reverse engineering involves taking things apart and analyzing the workings of your mind in more detail. Think of it like building your own mental framework by looking at the bigger picture first, and then picking that picture apart into various brush strokes. Start by picking a goal, then determining what it may look like at the most basic level. Once that is established, ensure that you are committed to the goal by better understanding your “why”. From there, identify the steps that are required to reach that goal. As you move into action, stay present, open, curious, and free from judgment.
- If you notice something particular has been keeping you stuck or has been making progress more difficult to achieve, do the opposite. Look at your daily habits and routines as more of an outside observer. Notice the things that are keeping you stuck throughout your day. Scrolling social media first thing in the morning and finding your thoughts more negative? Stop scrolling and do a quick meditation. Notice that you are thinking in terms of what is “good” versus what is “bad”? Start to think in terms of “good-better-best” and acknowledge the efforts or actions that are positive or helping you stay successful.
- Remember that humans are multidimensional beings, and chances are you are highly successful in something that another person isn’t. We all have to start somewhere and learn along the way. Identify an area of your life where you are highly successful and think about the qualities or strengths that have helped you obtain success in that area of your life. Rather than focusing on what you need to improve, identify what you are already doing well. How can you apply your areas of strength and forward progress to the areas where you are struggling with your health-related goals?
Live life deliberately and with more intention
If you’ve been flailing with forward progress in your life, start to focus on becoming a better mindset detective. Live life deliberately and with more intention. Set aside some time to observe your thoughts, and work to replace as many negative thoughts as you can with positive ones. Remember that this work isn’t easy and may require a bit of a radical change, but it is well worth it. We’d love to know more about how you plan to apply these mindset strategies to your life… starting today!