This article was originally published in 2018 for Natural Awakenings Magazine.
If you’ve tried to make changes in your life or in your behavior at the start of the New Year – or any other time for that matter – and find that you start out gung ho, but lose momentum, you’re not alone.
What I most want you to know is that this doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you. It doesn’t mean you’re lazy, lacking in self-control, determination, discipline, or willpower.
In my experience, it simply means that the rational “thinking” part of you wants to make certain changes but other parts of you do not. These other parts of you do not live in the frontal cortex where rational thinking and problem solving take place, but live in the bodymind or unconscious mind. They consist of energy in the form of conflicting beliefs, programs, or suppressed emotions and were often set in place when you were much younger.
Let’s use losing weight as an example. I trust that you are informed enough to know what foods and exercise habits will support you in losing weight and which will not. So this rational informed part of you tries to eat right and exercise, but another part of you, which you may or may not be conscious of says, "Yeah? Make me. I want to eat whatever I want to eat when I want to eat it. Thank you very much.” There may be another part of you that already feels deprived and unloved and feels that you are taking away the only way she knows how to treat herself or comfort herself.
Any place in you that is hurting and feels unheard, may stay quiet and “behave” for awhile, but if you continue to ignore these parts of you, push them away, or try to control them, they will eventually act out with a vengeance. This is why people sometimes engage in secretive splurging and eventually sabotage their good intentions. This is how these unheard parts finally have their say.
(Sometimes people try to “program” their unconscious minds with positive affirmations. If this strategy works for you, then by all means, please continue. But I see so many people who have been unable to make their desired changes this way, and feel bad about themselves as a result. There are a couple of reasons this strategy often does not work. First of all, the unconscious mind is about a million times more powerful than the conscious mind. Secondly, this technique is often done with an energy of control versus love).
The way to escape this cycle is not through more self-control or beating yourself up, but by learning how to listen to these hurt parts of yourself versus trying to control them. Like all hurt children, they just want to be heard and understood. When you can learn how to do this with genuine compassion, they will release their grip and their demands will quiet.
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