I was speaking several months ago to someone at my gym. He is a retired ‘snowbird’ who spends half of his time in the GTA and half of his time in his home in Florida. I noticed that his gym workouts consisted of the same sort of routine; even using the EXACT ‘same’ stairmaster each time he was in the gym.
Repeating similar behaviours means that you hold the same types of thought patterns. Thinking the same (or similar) thoughts is not how change occurs.
A brief conversation with this gentleman revealed he wanted to lose 20 or more pounds. His “Florida lifestyle” was largely unhealthy – eating much processed foods and often eating out with little activity. I remember listening to him carefully before suggesting that his behaviours were ‘a choice’. Regardless where he was, he needed to consider what he was choosing.
As recently as yesterday, a client in my office commented on a recent “choice” of his former girlfriend as a “mistake”. He noted it was a mistake since she “had several months in which to change her mind/to correct her actions” but did not. Choices may indeed be mistakes, and we may not always be able to correct the past, but what is most important is what we CHOOSE going forward.
ALL behaviours that you instantly identify as ‘wrong’, ‘bad’, and ‘poor’ choices – are all correctable. In the very next instant …your awareness of what you have “done” means that you can correct or change a future CHOICE.
This is how we make better choices in the present moment. This is how we begin to exist as DIFFERENT – changed – in the present.
I know that the gym is not a typical place for a therapy session! Yet fast forward several months later and this retired gym goer is twenty pounds lighter. He made the ‘choice’ to change aspects of his lifestyle (and does a lot more than an easy pace on the same gym equipment each workout)! He shared with me recently that our earlier conversation stuck with him…. especially my words of his desires for a healthier lifestyle as…. ‘a choice’.
As humans living a physical existence, we have so many choices facing us each day. We always know what is the ‘right’ thing to do even when we choose based on desires (junk food versus healthy, aggression verus peaceful action, hostility versus forgiveness).
Your choices set the stage for how your next moment will be.
We forget that we are in charge of our future moments simply by how we behave and respond NOW and what we do or don’t do towards something.
Consider any change that you have been struggling with. What similar “choices” do you continue to make? What new choices need to be in place before change occurs?
This is how you begin creating new (lasting) behaviours. Begin with the observation of what you continue to do. See your actions honestly and choose what will be your NEW BEHAVIOR in future. Pre-planning your future behaviours for when you are in specific situations helps you to make the new choice more easily. Being observant and mindful of all of your thoughts and actions ensures that you are making choices consciously, and not as a knee-jerk reaction based on what you have always done.
Consider that even a choice to change a previous pattern of behaving ONCE is a step toward a lasting change. Being able to choose differently for a ‘first’ time (or correct a behaviour wherever possible as soon as you can) helps to ensure that you CAN make change happen – and that you can do what you’ve been telling yourself you want to do.
Begin with any behaviour you are hoping to change and CHOOSE NOW what important step will be in line with making that change a permanent one.