What do fit and healthy people think about and do all day?

Any guesses?

You might brainstorm things like: sleep 7-8 hours per night, hit the gym 3x per week, walk 10000 steps per day, and eat a diet that nourishes and fuels the mind and body.

You might guess that such a person thinks things like “I am capable”, or “Everyone makes mistakes”, and “I tried my best”, while simultaneously patting themselves on the back.

Unlike the Law of Attraction, which tells us that thinking about these things makes them magically show up in our lives, the Law of Recognition tells us how the change process actually works.

Our brains are watching and judging us all the time (like we judge others), but more harshly. And even though it is primed to recognize the things we want, the rest is up to us.

So no magic, or wishful thinking. Change is about action. Thinking + Doing. Essentially, “being” the person we want to become until we are that person.

How “to be”

Think about playing a role as a method actor would. Except, in this case, the role is a future version of yourself who looks and feels awesome. Take on that role by becoming that person.

And ask yourself: What and how does that person think? What does that person do? On a more personal note: How will YOU show up in your life differently in this role?

Change does not happen when we just think about it, or when we mindlessly check out while doing it. We must simultaneously “think and do” to “be” the person we desire.

To change how we be (as in, the things we do and the ways we think), we must convince our rather harsh and critical brain that we are the person we want to become. Right now.

And the only way to do that effectively is through the power of full engagement – “being” the person we wish to become.

“Be it until you are it”

Jade Teta, ND

Change does not happen when we just think about it, or when we mindlessly check out while doing it. We must simultaneously think and be, and with intention.

Change your perception with stepwise confrontation challenges

Try this exercise to get started. Brainstorm a series of sequential changes that expose your brain to challenges or fears that you have around “being” in this role.  

For example, maybe you have a fear of giving up your favorite foods and sweets, like pizza or chocolate-covered peanuts. If your main issue around these foods is overindulgence or the belief that it’s “all or nothing”, consider challenging this belief and behavior by becoming someone who can enjoy a slice of pizza as a treat without feeling shame or guilt.

How does a person with that belief show up at social events with friends at a favorite local pizza joint?

Putting it into practice

Here’s what a step 1 perception challenge might look like for someone who overeats or makes poor food choices when dining out with friends and family:

  • Notice and name any situations (people, feelings, thoughts, environments, etc.) that trigger unwanted behaviors, emotions, or mindsets. Order those triggers from least to most triggering; the least triggering situations sometimes lead to unwanted behaviors, emotions, or mindsets, and sometimes not.
  • For 1-2 weeks, tackle the smallest, easiest trigger first by exposing yourself to it once or twice per week.
  • Remember that you are playing a role as a method actor would. Except, in this case, the role is a future version of yourself who makes healthy food choices and/or does not overeat when dining out. In these situations and in this role, what and how does that person think? How does that person behave?

A few tips:

  1. Be kind to yourself. The same kindness and care that you’d give to a best friend or partner, or loved one. This process is not about beating ourselves up for “losing control” or “failing”. It’s about identifying triggers, patterns, and links for building an effective and meaningful action plan.
  2. Since these situations sometimes put you at your worst and sometimes not, what flips the switch for you? Focus on the triggers that support positive routines. Some examples might include: staying hydrated, eating a protein-based pre-load meal/snack before going out for dinner, taking a quick nap, and eating slowly and mindfully by focusing on the surroundings (the sights and smells, or conversation with others).
  3. This is one approach to changing unwanted behaviors, emotions, or mindsets. An important path to change is awareness, but also self-evaluation and asking hard questions, like “Is this the right approach for me, right now?” If there are situations or triggers that consistently put you at your worst and derail you, it may be a lot easier to avoid those situations entirely. If so, a trigger list helps us work backward to avoid these triggers, or replace them with ones that inspire positive routines instead.

Final thoughts

When we practice “being” the desired future version of ourselves, we bring awareness to the stories and beliefs that are holding us back. And, we also challenge them by choosing to be something different using small stepwise perception challenges.

You don’t learn from your experience. You learn from processing your experience.

John Dewey

Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash