Don’t focus on results yet, just plant a couple of seeds.
The holidays grant us a time of preparation before setting our goals for the next year… if we face this time with curiosity and healthy expectations versus guilt and wanting to put our heads in the sand until it’s all over.
See if this sounds familiar…
With admirable enthusiasm, you “know” you are going to make changes come January 1st so you innocently give yourself permission to discount the time that leads up to the New Year saying “I am going to enjoy this now because come January 1st things WILL be different!”
During this time, you sink into the culturally shared carefree, no reigns, no restrictions, I’m finally free (if only temporarily) from the do-this/don’t-do-that mentality. Finally, I can take a deeper breath.
I stand here in solidarity with you. We all need deeper breaths. (In fact, let’s take one together now: soften your gaze, soften your shoulders, breath in slowly for 5 seconds (feel the cool breath on the back of your throat), and then exhale even slower for 7 seconds (put your hand up to your mouth and feel the softness of your breath).
Indeed, deep breaths are therapeutic. And we all do need relief from the do-this/don’t do this mentality. But I’d like to show you the cracks in the way I just described. Let’s look at it differently together.
Parenting the adorable five-year-old living in your head
The temporary freedom experienced above, putting down those heavy health restrictions through indulgence in food and alcohol, actually contributes to your long-term imprisonment.
Like a young child, your brain requires consistency to understand and memorize desired behaviors.
You will have spent the last several holiday weeks saying over and over “Wow! This is what we REALLY consider fun! This (food and alcohol) is how we get INTENSE comfort! Food (unlimited food) is how I REALLY CONNECT to family and to myself!”
Your brain is watching every choice you make. It is recording the intensity of your satisfaction with it, it is rewarding that consistency with releasing chemicals (like dopamine) that cement your desires making it easier and easier to repeat that pattern.
You are both on the same page. This is what you really want.
Until January 1st…
Right around December 27th, we collectively all say “I don’t care if I ever see another cookie again! That’s it! NO MORE SUGAR, no more carbs, no more ______ (you fill in the blank)!”
With this temporary motivation, New Year’s Resolutions are locked in place. Amazon orders are placed for all necessary equipment. And orders are given that “if this isn’t eaten by the weekend, it’s all getting thrown out or donated!”
This year will be different (you admirably think or hope or maybe wish).
Guess what your first impulse is going to be?
At an almost instinctual level, these needs will be filled with food and/or alcohol. And why wouldn’t they be?
You just spent that past several intense weeks reinforcing your loyal brain that FOOD IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE remedy (not to discount the presumably 30+ years of additional practice you’ve had with these patterns).
But here’s what you need to know: this process is neurology, how your brain is designed to work, it is not a lack of discipline.
So let’s introduce another way.
Enjoy a Season of Vitality
Follow along with me this season as we walk through these concepts together.
- FOCUS ON WHAT TO ADD, not what to restrict.
- FOCUS ON SLOW, LONG-TERM PROGRESS, not temporary results.
- FOCUS ON PRACTICE, not expecting things to change just because you “know” better
Let me help you organize this process. I, too, am vulnerable to inconsistent parenting of my own brain and have a susceptibility to overvalue self-medicating behaviors (like excess food and alcohol). But I know the calmer and higher quality life that lies on the other side. And this holiday season can be a perfect hidden opportunity to get a peek at it.