Last week I talked about how important it is to know exactly what it is you’re trying to achieve and to focus on what you want – not what you don’t want.
You cannot hit a target you are not aiming at.
Having decided what your exact target it, the next step to encourage your neurological growth to guide you in that direction, is to amplify the pleasure you associate with achieving it.
Willpower is not a thing…
I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people say, “I was doing so well – then I lost my willpower” but here’s the thing, you cannot lose something that isn’t actually a thing. Willpower is not like a set of car keys, you can’t actually lose it, because it’s a mind-set or an attitude not a tangible object. Your behaviour is determined by how you think, and importantly, how you verbalise those thoughts inside your head. Imagine you had arranged to meet someone, but you were having second thoughts and really didn’t want to go, and that you only agreed because you felt you should; then when it came to leaving, you genuinely couldn’t find your car keys, and it was too far to walk, you would then by default be able to do what you really wanted instead.
So, if you believe that you need willpower, all you have to do to go off track, is tell yourself you have lost it and hey presto – cakes, sweets, fatty snacks etc. are back on the menu!
So, if it’s not willpower, what is it that you need? Well you can pick a word that works for you, but essentially it’s mind-set, attitude or desire. For all of these there’s a neurological pattern that keeps you on track. Of course, you have to create this pattern, and it’s helpful to know a little bit about how the brain works to help you do that.
We are programmed to avoid pain and achieve pleasure, whether you are a carrot or a stick person (as discussed in my previous blog https://theplacebodiet.co.uk/hello-world/) fundamentally your unconscious mind is always going to lead you away from pain wherever possible, whatever that pain is. In terms of evolution this was a very important strategy and it no doubt helped keep our hunter gatherers alive, however for those of us in the western world life is very different. We live a life of abundance and we have so many more things that bring us pleasure, including culinary delights. If you think about the impoverished selection of foods our ancestors had compared to what is available to us it begins to make more sense; they certainly didn’t ever walk past a patisserie and salivate at all the wonderful cakes and sugary treats in the window, so they had no need to resist temptation and “stay on track” as staying on track was the only option.
It all comes down to association in the moment. When you set your goals it’s easy to tell yourself you are not going to do anything that will deter you from your goal. If its weight loss it might be you are confident in walking past the vending machine, if its gambling or betting then you might be sure you can walk past the betting shop or the casino, when you are using your slower thinking mind (more about this in future blogs) you can completely commit to staying on track. The problem is that when we are faced with these triggers that evoked the old behaviour that got us what we didn’t want, we don’t use this slow thinking process, our neurology is wired to avoid pain, so if we associate pain with not having the cake, not placing the bet, that will be our default setting.
This can be overcome and of course it’s one of the techniques I teach on my courses and it features heavily in the ‘Placebo Diet at Home’ online course. As I have said and it’s critical to long term progress, you have to change your neurology so that the old behaviour genuinely loses its appeal. To the point that when you think of it you almost feel repulsed at the thought of doing it.
Anything that brings you pleasure, whether it’s good for you longer term or not, is neurologically registered in the same way. It doesn’t matter if it’s a delicious food, a surprise gift, a great physical encounter or promotion at work. Your brain releases dopamine (the motivation hormone) from a part of your brain called the nucleus accumbens, which forms part of what is known as your brains pleasure centre. When you create a behaviour that activates the pleasure centre, then it’s easy to become addicted to this neurological “hit”. All the time you associate massive pleasure with this behaviour, the neurological drive to do it becomes stronger and stronger.
The answer is obvious, you change the association. Imagine you were addicted to eating pizza every time you worked late and didn’t have time to cook. That you processed it and labelled a meat feast pizza as a reward. Whenever you work late your brain is ahead of you, and begins to release dopamine in anticipation of the pizza long before you eat it. By the time you finish work there’s no way you are not going to eat pizza. Imagine then one night you eat a pizza and as a result have the worst food poisoning, that your vomit tastes of rancid pizza and you are on the loo with it coming out of both ends. You know with absolute certainty it was the pizza that made you so graphically ill that your body evacuated it from both ends simultaneously.
If someone offered you a pizza the next day your body would have learned to change the association and you would probably repel the thought.
There is an exercise I have used in a few of my books called “Craving Crusher” that uses this process to change how you think and feel about a specific food. If you want to try it, identify the food and then watch the video and I will talk you through it.
We will chat more about slow versus fast thinking over the next few weeks, but if you want to come along and learn some great techniques in person my upcoming events are:
Motivation Matters workshop June 25th
As a valued Placebo Diet member, you can get a special discount if you use the code VIP001 and book now – you will learn how to change your mind and your body for just £125. Now there’s an investment it’s good to motivate yourself to make! BOOK HERE NOW>>
You can combine the Motivation Matters Day with the TFT Tapping Course and make it a weekend of total transformation.
We have a special offer price if you book both courses together, with your £50 0ff using VIP001 code you can receive the two courses for £300 that’s a saving of £170 on the regular price. BOOK HERE NOW>>
Or if you want a real pampering come along and stay with me at a Champneys Retreat.
There is no direct discount on this exclusive retreat but you will get the opportunity to purchase my ‘Placebo Diet at Home’ Gold Package for the special price of 50% off – that’s a great saving of almost £150! BOOK HERE NOW>>