One of the first things you learn when driving a vehicle is don't look where you don't want to go. That same principle applies to your thoughts. How many times have you thought to yourself what a disaster it would be if you dropped the full plate you’re carrying down the stairs and bingo! Food everywhere.
I was talking with my college volleyball coach, Cecile, and she was saying she wants to write a book on positive coaching. So instead of saying “don’t drop your arms, or straighten your legs,” you instead tell the individual what you want them to do. You reinforce the positive thoughts and behaviors, and don’t even bring up the stuff you don’t want them to do.
I have a proposal. What if your to-do list only had the actions you wanted to do? Don’t write down things like “I’m not going to eat dinner after 6 p.m.” Write down that your aim is to eat before 7 p.m. It’s not about “I’m not going to eat sweets and drink alcohol.” Try “I’m going to eat more fruit I enjoy and reach for water whenever I am thirsty.” Look in the direction you want to travel, not at the cliff you are trying to avoid falling off.
If you know you’re going to reach for food when the stress hits, resolve that you will walk around the block when you are having a stressful situation. Another really simple and helpful technique is taking 2 minutes (literally) to breathe. When you are ready to scream at the kids or the knucklehead driver in front of you, take 5 deep, deep breaths. Get your body to calm down for a second before you react. You’ll be amazed at how effective this simple technique is.
If you’re trying to make some changes in your life, then focus on the good. Notice the progress. Stop looking at what isn’t the way you want it yet. If you keep looking at your positive attributes and take baby steps, you will keep looking ahead. By focusing on “I’m too heavy” or “I ate poorly at lunch today,” you’ll continue to reinforce that pattern in your body, your life, and your thoughts and beliefs.
Keep your eyes on the road and believe. If, once in a while, you’re looking at that guardrail out of the corner of your eye, that’s OK. It’s good to be in touch with our weaknesses, but keep that car on the pavement.
Here’s to the journey and all the destinations we reach along the way.