PART 3: How to Think About Opinions!
Welcome to the third step to Resolving Your Guilt over Your Weight Loss Journey! This discussion will be all about OPINIONS, which are just thoughts about something, either from someone else or from yourself.
Let’s review for a minute some things you learned in the first two steps:
- Your thoughts create your feelings, your feelings drive your actions, your actions drive your results
- You are 100% responsible for the thoughts & feelings in adulthood, these thoughts are 100% optional, and by taking responsibility you have all the power, including the power to change them or decide what they mean to you
- You created a goal and a compelling reason that you love
- You became aware of where you are at currently and what your journey might entail to get to your goals (passive & massive actions)
- You know which emotions might help fuel you in your journey in a way that serves you and have hopefully figured out some thoughts to practice to create these emotions every day.
Alright, so for many people, all these steps may be intellectually resonating with you. It may sound “good” or “reasonable”, but you may still be tripping over a few details.
One of the big details people have to manage, especially when they are trying to change something about themselves, is how to deal with OTHER PEOPLE’S OPINIONS and their opinion about themselves.
This can come in many different forms when it comes to a weight loss journey. There are opinions about your body. There are opinions about whether or not you should lose weight. There are opinions about your reason to lose weight. There are opinions about how you eat, how you’d like to eat, how you ate with others in the past, if you choose or do not choose to drink alcohol. There are opinions about how much to work out and if working out is even a valid weight loss technique. There are opinions about what diet works best, what exercise works best, how many hours of sleep to get, how much water to drink.
STOP WITH ALL THE DAMN OPINIONS, ALREADY!
Both your own thoughts and the voices of many other people may be bouncing around between your ears. You brain is looking like a snow globe all shaken up, with thoughts running around like crazy. You can get so caught up in all the different opinions, many of which are directly conflicting, I am sure.
And it gets even more dicey these days, with the COVID-19 pandemic, because you may also create opinions about whether or not losing weight is even important right now, with so many other things to think about and your stress level being higher than normal.
Eager for some solutions!? Read on!
Since this is an interesting time to be alive, let’s deal with this one first. COVID-19 has our world turned upside down for sure. And you may have opinions about whether or not pursuing your weight loss goals during this time is a good idea.
But not pursuing your goals is not helping the cause. The two facets do not have anything to do with each other unless you make it that way in your brain through your thinking.
So here is how I would recommend looking at this particular situation: You have your thoughts about COVID-19 and how you are thinking about it and dealing with the new changes. Then you have your weight loss journey happening at the same time. Two separate situations.
Sure, our options may be affected, but that doesn’t mean we should just give up. We may not have the same options at the grocery store as we have been accustomed to because of the pandemic, but I’m pretty darn sure we can find alternatives that align with our goals. Don’t make the excuse that since the salad is out you have to get chips instead. Same goes for the types of exercise we do. Get solution-focused, get creative, and you can figure out a food protocol and movement protocol that works.
If you are worried that you “should be spending time on helping the cause instead of worrying about your weight”, then do something that helps the cause. Get that part accomplished for sure if that is what you want to do. But be careful not to make it mean you stop taking care of yourself and your own goals. When you stop caring about yourself or taking care of yourself, you put a damper on how you show up in the world.
So now you have to decide…
When it comes to making decisions, I always recommend you think about your reasons for which way you choose and then have your own back when you make the decision and commit. If you make the decision deliberately and love your reasons for doing something, you’ll spend a lot less time going back and forth wondering if you made the “right decision.”
It’s perfectly fine to purse your goal and perfectly fine to not pursue your goal during this time if you are DELIBERATELY choosing and you LOVE YOUR REASON.
Now let’s get back to opinion discussions for regular times…
OTHER PEOPLE’S OPINIONS
When it comes to managing how you deal with other people’s opinions, we must review a few things from our first lesson. Our feelings are driven by our thoughts, not from something external to us. So anything anyone else does or says or how they act is a CIRCUMSTANCE, which is neutral until we have thoughts about it.
Let me repeat: Other People and what they say or what they do is a CIRCUMSTANCE and is neutral.
Recall that circumstances are things we cannot control. We cannot control other people. Trying to control them is futile at best. Trying to control the uncontrollable is a LOSING BATTLE. We can only control our own thoughts and how we respond to circumstances.
Everyone right now wants to argue with me. I hear you. Please keep reading.
But here is the greatest news ever:
#1 Since no one else causes our feelings or makes us think any certain way, then we have all the power to dictate our own feelings and thoughts.
We get to decide what to think about other people’s opinions!
We can decide if they have any good points. We can decide if we don’t want to listen. We can decide if their opinion aligns with ours or not. We can decide if some advice we read about is worth looking into further. WE GET TO DECIDE!
If someone offers you an opinion that would have normally offended you, take a look at what you are thinking. What you are thinking is what is causing the feeling of “offended.” You have so many options as to what to think about their opinion and what you make it mean. Is this how you want to experience it? Or do you want to experience it in a way that serves you?
Let’s also get realistic about other people- they are mainly concerned with themselves. Their opinion means more about them than it means anything about you. It is a reflection of what THEY are thinking, not what YOU are thinking. You are choosing what to do with their thought that has been expressed.
Isn’t it great to know that you have all that power? Ahhhhhh. So much freedom in that.
#2 We cannot control other people, we can only control our own responses (thoughts-feelings-actions)
It’s always best to ALLOW people to think and say and do whatever they want to. This is the reality anyway, but sometimes thinking about it as allowing helps to keep it in an empowered framework.
It’s also very freeing to know that we can stop trying to control other people. If we can spend way more time focusing on how we respond to the world, as opposed to worrying about trying to change other people, then we can get a heck of a lot more work done on leveling up our own lives. Don’t you think?
Trust me, this works. Since we have all the power to decide what to think about other people’s opinions, then no opinion can come at us and make us feel “bad” if we don’t want to feel that. We hold the power.
A Word about Boundaries
Now, there are definitely times when a boundary needs to be set and you can do this from an empowered, loving place. A boundary is necessary when emotional or physical parameters are crossed or are about to be crossed that we do not want in our lives. A boundary should be set from a place of love for ourselves and the other person, and be about what WE will do to respond to a behavior if they continue doing it. It should clearly state the behavior we do not want and the consequence, which is what WE will do if the behavior continues. For example:
Ginny wants to set a boundary with her husband over his incessant opinions over her weight. He constantly talks about how she used to look and how much she “let herself go” and then they start arguing. She now knows that he does not have power over how she feels, but she decides to set a boundary for herself from a place of love because she doesn’t want to be exposed to that behavior all the time or get into arguments. She states that she does not need his opinions about her weight and if he continues to voice negative opinions about her weight, she will leave the room.
Notice how her boundary is not telling him he can’t or shouldn’t say opinions. That is a very subtle but powerful detail. She really does not have control over what he says. She can voice her preference, for sure, and ask him not to say those things or let him know she doesn’t care for them. But ultimately she cannot control what comes out of his mouth. Instead, she can take full control over whether or not she stays in the room when he does. This will teach him that she will not tolerate his behavior. Eventually he may stop. If he doesn’t, then she will still keep herself safe by continuing the boundary.
You have to have the follow-through with boundaries or they will not work.
OUR OWN OPINIONS
Last but not least, in the weight loss journey, we must manage our own opinions. And there are LOTS of them! Sometimes we can actually be our own worst enemy when it comes to opinions. We are harsh critics.
But now you have learned much about where feelings come from: Our Thoughts.
To manage these, we must get curious and aware of what we are thinking in order to make any changes. Perform a thought download on all your own opinions about the weight loss journey, your body, your past experiences, your relationships with food & exercise, everything.
Take a look at these thoughts as if you are putting them up on a video screen in front of you and watching from your couch. Notice trends. Notice how these thoughts create your experience. Notice if some are serving you or if some are not serving you. Notice if this type of thinking propels you forward or keeps you stuck.
Then decide how you would want to experience your weight loss journey and what types of thoughts/feelings would keep you moving forward.
Sometimes we have to use a more neutral set of thoughts and feelings to inch our way forward. For instance, moving from “I can’t stand my body” to “I have a human body” may not sound earth-shattering, but at least gets you to a place of acceptance and possibility.
Negative feelings such as self-doubt, unworthiness, guilt, and shame are not forward-driven feelings. They are ones that people can get stuck in and indulge in without realizing it. Thoughts that lead to these feelings are not serving you. The good news is they are OPTIONAL and you can change them.
Decide on your new thoughts and begin practicing. Read back over Steps 1-3 in this series and really gather up your newfound patterns that resonate with you and fuel your journey, including your own opinions about yourself.
If you need personal coaching in the weight loss journey, please contact me via email and I can give you some more information!