Just the other day I heard myself say out loud to my boyfriend “I am an emotional eater.” I’ve also heard myself say that in numerous coaching sessions on both stress and weight management as a way to relate with clients. There’s a problem with this – it’s always the same sentence, over and over. I’ve probably been saying this for years! It’s like throwing up your arms and saying “that’s just the way I am.” Sure there are some personality traits that are more set and differ from person to person, things like extrovert/introvert, morning person/night owl. But even there, we can make SOME shift in our behavior to make the changes we’d like to see. Here’s some great news – the brain has plasticity, it’s malleable, we can fire new neural pathways. If the brain can change, then we can change.
So now I ask you, what do you hear yourself saying about yourself over and over? What are your labels?
We stick to our long-held labels because they keep us in our comfort zone. It’s our fallback. It’s our excuse. It keeps us stuck. Who would I be if I said out loud “I am NOT an emotional eater.” It would mean that I changed my behavior. It would mean that when I get happy, sad, stressed, anxious, angry, you name it – I don’t turn to food for comfort. I don’t sabotage my weight loss goals, I handle my stress in other more productive ways. Getting rid of old labels OPENS THE DOORS TO POSSIBILITY.
I learned all about this in the Landmark Education Forum and was reminded of it again a seeing Ben Zander, the author of the Art of Possibility, in an electric presentation. In both cases, the message was clear – take off the shackles of self-limiting beliefs that not longer serve you and uncover the person who you want and long to be.
Try a new new label if you like – just make it one that feels good to you. So while I’m working on no longer being an emotional eater, I can say things like “I am a mindful eater.” I like this label a whole lot better. It also gives me something to walk towards as I am working on this new behavior.
Be bold and be brave – shake of the shackles and set yourself free!