Reason #3 – Why you are stuck!

Looking back at the summer, I am pretty sure I came back from vacation in June but my spirit stubbornly stayed at the beach.  But here we are, the school year started and I heard my first junior high bell in over four decades.  

As I sit down to write, I realize that I’ve missed this practice.  Though my feelings drug their feet throughout the summer, I am finding LITERALLY AS I am DOING THIS, that my feelings are changing and I am reminded how much I love writing. 

Why all caps? Because that is where we are headed today. Specifically, that our actions are a crucial part of the formula for truly transforming our lives.  Because our actions relate to our feelings which relate to our beliefs and so to our progress.

As someone who likes to be happy, I don’t check the weather app as we approach the end of July and August. One day, I heard myself requesting OUT LOUD to my husband “don’t tell me the forecast if it’s over 100 degrees every day this week.” To which I believe he replied, “Okay.” 

Call me an ostrich but I don’t look at the week’s forecast unless I know there is a something coming to feel good about. I am a true 7 on the Enneagram. I hate being stuck in any bad feelings and much of what I am motivated by is getting out of them (right or wrong).  If you see me walking in 100 degrees- it’s because the feeling I get afterward is better than the feeling I had before. Potentially the mark of an addict but also a factor in why this particular lesson was a game changer for me.

Here is a key principle: Our ACTIONS influence our feelings AND our beliefs.  

Your ACTIONS influence your beliefs. 

Why is this so important? Because when you really believe something is true, you ACT on it and then you have feelings about it.  Follow this crazy circular logic. 

If I believe I am lazy and inactive, I will act accordingly (not do anything) and my feelings follow.  

Consider what would happen if you just made yourself act for example, go out and walk every day for an hour. (PS this is not how to implement becoming active by the way.) 

Do you think if you did this for a year your thoughts and beliefs about you being lazy and inactive would change? Then if you started to believe you were an active person, what do you think you would do? You would DO what you believed about yourself. 

According to cognitive behavioral therapy, your thoughts lead to feelings which lead to actions and the other way around.

This was the most revolutionary and new thought about how we change and frankly for a long time was a missing piece of my own personal puzzle.  In the neuroscience world, Dr. Caroline Leaf says in her book Switch on Your Brain, the actions you take “help you feel whether or not something is true.” 

Here is the point. 

There is an action piece to this formula that is embedded in — call it neuroscience, or God’s economy.  In other words, just knowing a truth in your head is not what makes it real in our lives. Our action is a part of the equation. 

In my experience, one of the fastest ways to get back on track is through an action. When I do or act in accordance with what I call my Mindset of Truth, my brain responds, my thinking responds, and here it is….my feelings respond. They are all linked together. 

For the longest time, I wanted knowing the truth and thinking on it, sort of like a reminder, to be enough. A man named Paul in the Bible tells us to be transformed or changed by renewing our minds. I have come to understand something slightly different; not that it isn’t true but that the equation is incomplete. 

What I realized is that it is not enough to KNOW something in your head. You have to ACT on it to reap the reward!  Just knowing it isn’t enough.  Jesus said it this way, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” In another version it says “you will be happy and blessed if you do these things.”

This gave me hope because I realized that I had never practiced this piece of the puzzle. I had meditated, prayed, and reworked my thinking but I resisted the action and discipline part of the formula.

Here is your homework assignment, ask yourself what would I be doing if I believed the “more true” narrative in the area I want to change?” And then do it.  

Here are a few examples to help you connect the exercises from Reasons #1 and #2. For a review of the first two principles see the links below. 

Identify the area – I feel stuck and want to change:

  1. I want to be an active person
  2. The way I approach big projects.

My raw thoughts about it are:

  1. I’m lazy. I can’t maintain exercising routines. I always fail at this so why even begin. 
  2. I still have those stupid projects on my to do list and it is a burden when I see it. It makes me feel frustrated with myself. Why can’t I just get these things done and off my list?

My more true story is:

  1. I have a hard time staying with my exercise routines. I want to do it all today and it feels like a big lift to get to the gym every day. If I start small with walking 10 minutes, I can tweak the routine. I won’t ever be able to increase or tweak it if I am not doing it at all. My all or nothing thinking is at the root of what keeps me stuck in this area because I feel like if I don’t do an hour every day then I won’t get the results I want. The truth is that results happen over time and my goal is to be active not to be in shape tomorrow, even though if I am honest that is what I’d really prefer. And that is the problem. 
  2. I am stuck because I won’t just do a little bit every day. I want it done today.  My all or nothing thinking is part of the problem. If I do :10 every day, I will be finished in a month.  That seems like such a long way away and so it doesn’t feel worth it to start. I do believe that getting it done is important and I know it is a project worth doing. 

What I be doing if I believed my more true story:

  1. I would start small with walking or running :10 and work up to :30. 
  2. I would set a timer for :10 and work on it. I can go longer if I want to but I am free to stop at :10.

For a refresher on reasons # 1 and 2 of why you are stuck, click on the links below:

Until next time — happy fall!