The key to making lasting changes is self-awareness. The most basic form of self-awareness is recognizing that you are a separate individual with an identity. When a baby can recognize his reflection in a mirror, he is on the road to self-awareness.
But it doesn’t stop there. We are complicated beings with layers upon layers of identity and beliefs. A lot of the time our beliefs are hidden from our conscious awareness. The problem with hidden beliefs is that we act on those beliefs without understanding why we feel compelled to act.
So merely identifying that you have a problem is just a baby step on the road to self-awareness and true change. You may understand that you have a problem and talk about it for decades but never make lasting change. That is because you have not identified your beliefs.
Humans are “interesting.” We simply don’t do things that we don’t believe will benefit us in some way. Even charitable actions are done because there is some benefit for us. Being kind to others makes us feel good. In every action we take, there is some kind of perceived benefit, even actions that are self-sabotaging, like fits of rage or binge eating.
We internalize our beliefs until they become so much a part of us that we don’t even know they are there. Especially if we lack self-awareness, we will just go through the motions of life and not even think about why we do the things we do.
This leads to applying the wrong solution to a problem if and when we become aware of it. Take dieting, for instance. There is a multi-billion dollar industry set up around this idea, and around 90% of the time it is the wrong solution to a weight problem. That’s great news for the diet industry because they get a lot of repeat customers. But it is horrible for the rest of us because we spend years and a lot of money and heartache trying to fix a problem with the wrong solution because we are not aware of our beliefs.
If weight is something you struggle with, the hidden beliefs you have about eating, your weight, your self… these beliefs are the driving force behind your overeating and they do not go away simply because you decide to apply some “will power” and “self control” to the situation. Your inner beliefs are much, much stronger than your will power and they will ultimately win.
If you are a person of faith, you may say that in a situation like this God can make it possible for you to have the self control you need to stick to a diet and then maintain weight loss permanently. And that is true, God can do anything. So how often do you see this actually happening? Could it be there is a reason why God is not all that interested in seeing you lose weight without taking care of the false belief system on your inside?
That’s right, I don’t think God really is all that concerned with how much you weigh or what size clothing you wear. I think he is much more concerned with what you believe about yourself and the world around you. So it wouldn’t be good for you in the long run to apply the surface solution of dieting and weight maintenance while the inside of you is still very sick.
Some of us have very strong wills and we can get that exercise done and we can stick to that eating plan and we can stuff down our beliefs for quite a while. Eventually our beliefs will win out – because while we are self-controlling our way through life, those beliefs are still inside getting stronger. The pressure is building. And it will be quite a meltdown when it finally happens.
Some of us don’t even try to have self-control. We talk about it and even look like we are dieting sometimes but we’re still eating just as much as we ever did.
And others, like me, go back and forth with the self-control. I can “self-control” when I am feeling strong, and then I swing into a lack of self-control. Back and forth. And I drive myself crazy. So it is worth it to me to stop the dieting racket and start living authentically. Dieting does not work! I have proven it to myself. Getting to the heart of the issue is what works and it is what brings freedom and peace once and for all.
I recommend the book “Eating in the Light of the Moon”, by Anita Johnston.