When you put something in your mouth that you think tastes good, but you know is hurting you, how do you override that and still do it?
Losing weight and stopping smoking both require the ability to delete certain truths, otherwise your unconscious would make the right choice and you would just stop. Quite often on TV these days we see very powerful and quite unpleasant Stop Smoking campaigns. Showing pictures of an unrolled cigarette containing remnants of a badly damaged lung. The inside of a cigarette showing what the inside of your lungs will be like if you smoke. Veins being filled with thick black tar… pretty powerful and a little disturbing – especially if you’re a visual thinker.
Many people respond more to pictures and images than they do to words. Every person that stops, or even thinks about stopping smoking as a result of these images has no doubt been told or has read about how damaging cigarettes are, yet it wasn’t powerful enough to provoke a strong enough emotion to make a change in behaviour.
As a therapist I often use powerful negative visualisations to make a point. The reality is if you want to change something, whether it’s to lose weight or stop smoking, you know, as I say it so many times, that you have to attach emotion to the decision; it’s not a cognitive or logical process. If it was, you wouldn’t have started in the first place or would have stopped as soon as you realised the horrendous consequences. If you’ve ever watched Star Trek you will appreciate that Dr Spock would never consider putting something in his mouth that wasn’t good for him, it’s just not logical. Humans however, are more fallible.
We make most of our significant life choices based on emotion, that’s why emotional eating is such an easy way to get fat, we eat certain foods because of how they make us feel, or at least how we think they make us feel.
Let’s say you want to lose weight but you have joined every slimming club, failed on just about every diet and are still too fat. Let’s say it’s because you love pizza. If you know you want to lose weight and you know that pizza makes you fat, how come you keep eating it?
The answer is actually very simple, you eat it because you like eating it more than you like not eating it. Someone telling you it makes you fat is not enough, that’s just “information” – you know it’s true but if it has no emotional meaning, you just ignore it. However, imagine this scenario: you are tucking into a tasty piece of pizza and all of a sudden you feel a strange uncomfortable pulling sensation in your stomach and you look down and see your stomach expanding – as if someone was blowing up a balloon inside you, your clothes suddenly feel painfully tight and you feel breathless and heavy, all of this gets worse with every bite. If this happened every time, how long do you think it would take you to stop eating pizza? Not very long. That’s because you can actually see and feel the pain pizza is causing you in the moment that you eat it, as opposed to days later when you no longer emotionally associate being fat with pizza.
Visual association is an incredibly powerful tool; it’s just one of many different techniques I teach on my ‘Motivation Matters’ workshop – you learn what you need to enable you to make new associations and literally reprogram your mind so that you think and feel differently, not just about food, but about yourself in all areas of your life that you would really like to change.
There’s still time to join me on my workshop this coming Saturday January 20th. This is THE workshop you need to give yourself a boost and set yourself up for 2018!