Ep #151: Self-Pity
As we move into the month of February, we’re kicking off a new series of podcasts on the topic of emotion.
In this particular episode, we’re talking about something that most of us have experienced, probably more than once in our lives – self-pity.
Self-pity is one of the most detrimental emotions that robs so many of us of taking action, as well as of our accomplishments. Sadly, most of the time, we don’t even know that we’re indulging in this self-indulgent and useless emotion.
Join us this week to discover how you can dramatically improve your life by kicking the habit of feeling sorry for yourself and how you can get started on that much-needed journey.
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What You will discover
- Why so many people rely on medication, even if they don’t have a chemical imbalance.
- Why we tend to pity ourselves.
- What I do the minute I start filling sorry for myself.
- The importance of recognizing when you indulge in self-pity.
- A few truths that will help you get out of the self-pity trap.
- How to stop feeling sorry for yourself and start living.
Featured on the show
Get the Full Episode Transcript:download the transcript
Welcome to The Life Coach School Podcast, where it's all about real clients, real problems, and real coaching. Now, your host, Master Coach Instructor, Brooke Castillo.
How are you my friends? I am so thrilled to be here with you all this morning. I am amazingly good. I woke up amazingly anxious, which is never fun. Just dreading the day, that's what I woke up with this morning. I did a lot of work and I sat down. Here's what's great. When you really work on yourself and you have clients that you know have the same issues, it's so great for me to be able to share that with you all. Today I woke up and I was struggling, struggling, and was looking on my news on my phone like I have a thing that has news headlines. That was a horrible idea. It's ill-advised. Don't do that.
I decided I didn't want to feel anxious today. I have a lot going on today, a lot of classes to teach. I'm flying out to see my coach today. I just want to be in a really amazing space and so I decided that I was going to give myself my normal Self Coaching work and then I was also going to give myself a process called the 5-Minute Emotion Makeover. I did that and I'm in a whole new land.
Here's what I'm going to actually do today. I'm going to create a video on exactly what I did and for sure I'm going to put that in its entirety in my Self Coaching Scholars for next month, so if you're already in that program, you will get it. I'm going to give, those of you who aren't in there yet, a preview of it. That'll be a five-minute video and you can watch it completely for free. All you have to do is go to TheLifeCoachSchool.com and go to /151 or go to any podcast. In the sidebar, you will see an opportunity to click on the 5-Minute Emotion Makeover and you will be able to learn what I did today. Magical, magical, I'm telling you. It's so great to be able to understand your emotions, to be able to manage them in a way so you don't have to spend the entire day at the effect of your brain. Take look at that. Go to TheLifeCoachSchool.com/151. You'll see it there on the show notes or on the side there and all you got to do is give me your email and I'll give you the magic.
What are we going to talk about today? We are about to start a series on emotions. As I move into February, my coaching with all of my clients and the scholars is going to be about emotion. If you want to join us, you go to TheLifeCoachSchool.com/join and you can find out more information about Self Coaching Scholars if you want to be part of my coaching, one of my clients. We're going to start this series. It's the next four and they'll all be on emotions. I've done a lot of emotional work on the podcast. One of the things that I want to do is talk about some emotions that come up a lot with my clients but that I don't necessarily talk a lot about. The first one and so the next four are going to be very interesting emotions, the ones that we don't like to talk about it and we don't like to admit that we're having and yet a lot of us have them and they hold us back.
The first one we're going to talk about is self-pity. I was so excited to talk about self-pity but let's talk about it and let's talk about how detrimental it is. There are some negative emotions that are actually really important, really useful part of the contrast, part of really understanding and processing discomfort. There are some emotions that I feel are not useful to spend any time feeling and I think self-pity is one of them. I have seen self-pity rob way too many of my clients of their dreams, way too many of my clients of their accomplishment of taking action.
As I go through this, I want you to see if you recognize yourself and then make sure, if you're one of my clients, that you go through that workbook and do this work. Again, it's one thing to understand it intellectually. It's very hard to see self-pity in yourself because it's not something you want to recognize. What happens is you're having it but you don't even recognize that you're having it because you don't want to be having it, and so you'll dismiss it and judge it without noticing it. It's important to recognize it, see what's happening there so you can deliberately change it.
The definition of self-pity is excessive self-absorbed unhappiness over one's troubles. I've talked about this a little bit in class but I want to talk about it here too. We talked about…I was reading this article that a doctor had written about depression. He was noticing that his patients come in and tell him that they're depressed when really he's noticing that they're not depressed. They're just unhappy but they've come to believe that they're entitled to happiness. When they aren't, they must be depressed and need medication. He thinks that's one of the reasons why so many people are buffering on prescription medication.
I am the first to tell you that there are very appropriate uses of medication, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication, very appropriate uses. I have worked with many clients who are on medication or who go on to medication when I'm working with them and it is magical for them because of a chemical imbalance. I am not in any way saying that people should not go on medication. I would do it in a heartbeat if I had a chemical imbalance.
What I'm talking about is unnecessary medication. I'm talking about with a very low tolerance for any kind of negative emotion. We immediately think something's terribly wrong and that we need to be medicated. There is a lot of that going on. Not only are we buffering with food and buffering with alcohol and buffering with the Internet and buffering with porn. We're also buffering with the over-medication of our society. I really want to be clear there. There's an appropriate use of food and then there's buffering with food. There's an appropriate use of medication and then there's buffering with medication.
If any time you're feeling unhappy you immediately think something's wrong. You're going to feel like you might need to get some medication so you can be happy. Now here's one of the problems with that is you don't learn how to cope with negative emotion and so you can become dependent on that as a coping mechanism if it's inappropriate for your situation. People will say to me all the time, "I don't know if I should use medication or not." That's something that there's no way I could tell you whether you should do that or not but I will say, regardless of whether you're on medication or not, doing this work on being able to cope is imperative and most of us don't know how to do it.
I see a lot of self-pity with my clients. They start pitying themselves when they aren't happy. Basically what happens is we start feeling bad about feeling bad. Like my example, I wake up this morning and I feel anxious and I could start feeling sorry for myself because I feel anxious, which makes you feel as completely disempowered, which makes you think I should take the day off, I shouldn't record the podcast, I shouldn't teach my course, I shouldn't go see my coach today because now I feel bad that I feel bad.
I could wake up and just be, "Come on." I did kind of do that, by the way. "Come on. Why do I have to do this? Why do I have to be the one that feels this way? I do all this work on myself. I'm entitled to feel better." That's me feeling sorry for myself. The minute I feel myself indulge in any kind of self-pity, I shift my mind and recognize that often times I make my own negative emotional experience so much worse by feeling bad about feeling bad. When I take action and I don't get the results I want, when the effect of my action is not what I had planned, I feel sorry for myself. I feel like, "Omigosh, why can't things just always work out for me? Why is this happening?" Then the answer is always, "Cause you're not good enough." Then I start feeling bad and then I start comparing myself and then I start feeling bad.
Self-pity comes from identifying and thinking of ourselves as victims of our circumstances. We feel as if something should be different. We externalize the cause of our issues, comparing ourselves to others, and accept defeat when we haven't even lost. This is what I see happens so often especially with some of my weight loss clients is they do the work and they are on their protocol and they're eating really clean and they're feeling really good but the scale hasn't moved as fast as they wanted to, and so they really start accepting and claiming defeat when they're just about to the point where they're probably going to drop a bunch of weight.
I've watched hundreds of people lose weight. Everyone loses it differently but I've watched people struggle, struggle, struggle, lose. Struggle, struggle, struggle, lose. Often I make fun of one of my clients. I tell her, I'm like, "I hope that your weight doesn't drop for a while. I feel like you haven't quite gotten over this self-pity thing." She's like, "No. Don't say that. That's awful." I tell her, I'm like, "I want you to be able to get over this because then you feel like you have as much patience as you need to get the result you want." Because here's what happens: if I start feeling sorry for myself because I'm not getting the results I want quick enough, what do I end up doing? I end up quitting and ensuring that I never got the result.
That proves that I should feel sorry for myself and that I don't get what I want. It's very sneaky, that emotion. It comes in and you don't even notice it. You start feeling bad about yourself and for yourself. "Oh, I'm so glad." Have you ever noticed that when someone else is going to do something horrible and your mind might say, "Oh, I'm so glad that's not me? I'm so glad I'm not having to go through that?" That's what your brain is saying about you in self-pity. "Oh, God. That's sucks to be you. It sucks to be you going through this." Now not only are you going through this situation that you're claiming is horrible but then you're feeling horrible about feeling horrible.
Self-pity is one of the most indulgent emotions. We give in and feel sorry for ourselves, instead of changing what is changeable. We give up and feel bad about giving up with no recognition that giving up is not the same as losing. Giving up is failing on purpose. I want you guys to think about the model and I want you to think about that F line. When we put self-pity in that F line, the corresponding action is most likely quitting, slowing down our action, accepting defeat. Giving up is not the same as losing. Giving up is failing on purpose. Don't do that. Self-pity will drive you to do that.
Now here's the other kicker. If you're feeling sorry for yourself, let's use the weight loss example. If you're feeling sorry for yourself because you're not losing weight fast enough and so you decide that you feel bad that it takes you longer to lose weight than maybe your friend. You're going to start feeling sorry for yourself. Let's say your friend is losing weight faster and you're not. You start feeling sorry for yourself. That's self-pity, which by the way feels terrible and will lead you to quitting. Here's the kicker. You quitting does not relieve you of feeling self-pity. You feel sorry for yourself before you quit but then you also really feel sorry for yourself after you quit.
Taking the action of quitting or giving up on something because you feel sorry for yourself does not relieve self-pity. In fact, it perpetuates and then you feel even more sorry for yourself because "it didn't work out for you" and then you start blaming other people and feeling sorry for yourself from the decisions that you've made. Be really aware of this and ask yourself, "Am I feeling self-pity?" Here's how you might know. Do you make a lot of excuses? Do you not follow through on a lot of your actions? These are hard things to see in ourselves. We don't see that we're doing that. We see that the world is a tough place, that we have negative circumstances. We don't own all of it. Is your life drama-filled and exaggerated?
I have people in my life that everything's a drama. Everything. It's like, "Oh, of course, you're having a drama." It's not because they have any more drama than anyone else. It's just that everything is a drama. I always laugh because whenever someone is late, it's always going to be a drama. It's like, "Oh, there was this and there was that. And it was this and it was that." It's like it's so fascinating how every single time you're late there's some big drama, like “it's not my fault. I'm not taking responsibility.”
Are you exaggerating the circumstances in your life as being powerful, as being negative? "Oh, I have so much to do today and listen to my day and listen to what happened and listen to this thing and listen to that thing." Now, if a client says that to me and I don't buy in and go, "Wow, yeah, that's a lot," when I say, "I think you could probably do twice as much as that and that doesn't sound like a lot to me," immediately they drop into self-pity and they're angry at me. Because they're like, "Whoa! Why are you coming at me like that?" It's really important for me as a coach to be able to show them what they're doing. They're creating drama so they can justify their excuse-making and yet they're putting themselves in a position to feel sorry for themselves. It is one of the most indulgent emotions that will not give you any kind of positive momentum or action. It wants attention from others.
Have you guys ever had this? This is so true for me. Whenever I'm feeling sorry for myself about something or someone or something did with me, I immediately need to call my friend and tell her the injustice of it all. I do exaggerate and be like, "Can you believe this happened to me?" You guys know what I'm talking about. "Poor me, the injustice of what happened to me." Then I love…my best friends know that I don't want them to coach me. I want them to commiserate with me. Then we commiserate and we all feel sorry for myself together, which is completely indulgent and not useful in any way. You have to be recognizing when you are indulging in self-pity.
Self-pity thrives on claimed helplessness. "There's nothing I can do. Just sit around and feel sorry for myself. Can you believe this horrible thing happened to me? Nothing I can do about it." What I promise you you can do about it is change the way you were thinking about it. Self-pity whines and complains. Whenever you hear yourself whining, I hear myself whining too often. I laugh like, "Wow," I feel sorry for myself. I feel like I am entitled to more and yet I don't want to take that action to get more. I just want to sit here and feel sorry for myself. You can't feel sorry for yourself and indulge in self-pity and also take effective action at the same time. You're either doing one of the other.
Think about this. It feels terrible when someone feels sorry for you. You never want someone to pity you and yet you're doing it to yourself. It feels terrible to feel sorry for someone else. You never want to be around someone you feel sorry for. When you pity someone, it's not a great feeling. You don't want to spend a lot of time around that. When someone's pitying you, you don't necessarily want to be around them but you're doing both when you have self-pity. You're feeling sorry for yourself and you're being felt sorry for by yourself. Terrible place to be. It's not useful. It's the fuel for complaining, excuse-making, and whining. That's about it.
If you're someone that feels sorry for themselves and creates an emotion of self-pity with your thinking, you must change your thinking and the way that you view yourself. You must because you will end up failing on purpose, quitting ahead of time. Instead of thinking that someone or something should give you more, you have to start owning that everything you have is your own creation, no matter what happens in the world that's supposed to be happening. I noticed this happening to me when people are really upset. I don't want people to be upset. I don't want people to be upset about anything, even I mean like globally. I look at the number of people that are upset about our world.
I feel bad about that and I indulge in that and I come back to myself and I remind myself, "No. They're supposed to be discord. That's what the world is about. That's why we come here. There's supposed to be contrast. There's supposed to be conflict. As soon as I do that, I feel like I have the ingredients to deal with it. I tell myself, "These things shouldn't be happening in the world," or "These things shouldn't be happening in my life," or, "These things shouldn’t be happening in my business." Then I, all of a sudden, feel powerless and feel sorry for myself. When I understand, "No, it's all happening for me. This is all part of the deal. This is like our curriculum in the world," then I show up in a very different way.
The way that I like to think about it and this has been helpful for some of my clients is when you sign ... Let's say you're going to go to Harvard or you're going to go to Yale. You're going to sign up for a class. You're probably going to expect that the class is going to be hard. You're not going to go, take a class in an Ivy League university and have it be a breeze. They're not going to be like, "Show up when you want. Who cares? It's an easy A." My guess is you're going to plan on going to work, plan on showing up to class, paying attention, studying, using your own mind, being creative, applying it. Now, I could be wrong. Maybe those of you who went to Yale or my Ivy Leaguers can tell me whether this is true or not.
For me, I would plan on it being challenging. Then when it was, I would be like, "Bring it." I want to earn this degree. I want to earn my A in this class. The harder it is, the harder I'm going to work. Those of you who love school, you know what I'm talking about. There's another group of you that the harder it is, the more you want to feel sorry for yourself. The more you want to quit, the more you want to go to a different school, the more you want to stop going to school. Notice this in yourself. Are you believing that you've signed up for life and that the harder it is the more you can grow, the stronger you can become, the more you can evolve? The harder the school is, the more you're going to learn and apply yourself. The harder your life is, the more you're going to learn and apply yourself.
Now, some of you may say, "That sounds awful. I just want an easy life." That's fine as long as your life is easy. "I don't meet a lot of people where their life is easy. So I think maybe our life shouldn't be easy." I don't think that's the point. I can either feel sorry for myself that my class at Yale is so difficult or I could be like, "Of course, my class at Yale is difficult. That's what I signed up for. I'm ready. Bring it. Let's do this. I'm capable of this. I wouldn't be here if I wasn't capable of it." Notice the shift in the energy from feeling sorry to expectation and growth and energy. Know that you are not a victim. I don't care what has happened to you in your life. I don't care what you're experiencing today. I don't care.
I have worked with clients that have had horrific abuse situations. They've been treated terribly by other people and they never ever let them dwell in a place of victimhood because they start feeling sorry for themselves and they stopped taking action to be more empowered. Self-pity will suck you in. You don't deserve more than you have in this moment. You said, "What?" Notice how if I think I deserve more. "I should have had better parents. I should have more money. I should have had a better husband. My husband shouldn't have cheated on me. My husband shouldn't have left me. My kids shouldn't be involved in this stuff. I deserve better. I should have had better. Uh, my child shouldn't have a disability." As soon as I go there, I start feeling sorry for all of the things that have happened to me in my life that should have been different.
When I look at my life and I'm like, "No, no. This is exactly what I should have based on who I am and how I'm showing up in the world and then I feel complete and from there I can create more abundance. I don't feel sorry for myself. I love owning what I've created for myself and that includes all of the abundance that I've created for myself and all of the things that aren't as good as I want them to be. If I'd created them, I can create more. I tell myself there's nothing to feel sorry about. What's meant to happen does. I love saying this to myself: "Oh, I keep thinking this shouldn't be happening." Of course, this should be happening. This is my assignment today. This is what my professor of my life has assigned. I'm in. Let's do this. I got this. Look at what a good student I am. Look at what I will create. Look at how much I will learn. That's how I choose to approach my life instead of feeling sorry for myself that the work is so hard and start complaining and exaggerating it.
Imagine going to Harvard or Yale and signing up for a class and then sitting around and complaining how hard it is. "There's so much work. It's so ridiculous. Oh my God, you wouldn't believe it. Everyone is so much smarter than me. This professor is ridiculous. What we're expected to do is unreasonable." I could probably prove all of that true or I could just be like, "Bring it on." That's what's up. This is what's up for me today. We're supposed to have conflicts and contrast. Things are supposed to be hard and difficult and challenging. There's supposed to be suffering in the world. How do I know there's supposed to be suffering in the world? There is suffering in the world so I can either suffer about the suffering or I can focus my energy on creating more contrast to the suffering. That's what I'm going to choose to do.
When I feel sorry for myself, when I victimize myself in my own mind, I contribute to the suffering instead of the opposite. I want you guys to think about that in your life and I want to promise you that it is difficult to see. You have to pay attention. Notice when you're complaining, when you're whining, when you think your life should be different, when you think you deserve better. When you tell yourself, "I deserve better, I'm entitled to more," you're in self-pity. Find the thinking that's causing it and write it down. Recognize that it's not serving you. There is nothing about self-pity that will serve you. Other emotions will serve you, even negative feeling emotions can really serve you. Self-pity is not one of them.
Decide what you want to feel instead. I want to feel motivated. I want to feel excited. I want to feel ready. I want to feel like, like I feel when I think, "Bring it on." I feel capable and confident. That's how I want to feel. I feel so much better than self-pity and the result is so much better in my life. Create new thinking and beliefs around any situation that you think should be better or that you're whining or complaining about. Stay where all the feelings and clean up that self-indulgence. Those at the steps. Now, if you're a Self Coaching Scholar, make sure you go through and answer the questions in your workbook. Do you that deep dive into this work. Be willing.
I have a client that I've worked a lot with on self-pity. It always presents now in a way that she notices but she just says, "I'm done with you. I'm done with this. I'm done with this emotion." I did this a long time ago with the emotion of worry. I recognize that it wasn't serving me until now when I noticed myself worrying, I gently let it go. I gently release it. We can do the same thing with self-pity. I will not feel sorry for myself.
I'll leave you with one thing. One of my clients finds it easy to find some relativity, so like, "I feel sorry for myself because, you know, my stock portfolio went down 10%." When you compare yourself to someone that has no money, to someone that doesn't have an education, that doesn't have, doesn't even know how to invest in stocks or has no money to invest in stocks, it's all relative. That can be a useful way especially in the beginning to not feel sorry for yourself.
One of the things I just want to warn against when you do that, like I have clean drinking water. I have no reason to feel sorry for myself. One of the things that that can do and this is why I didn't lead with this is then you can end up feeling sorry for someone else which is not useful either, for someone that doesn't have clean drinking water. You don't want to focus your attention on pity. It doesn't help unless you're going to take action from a place of positive capacity and confidence.
I would probably guarantee you that if you're someone listening to this podcast, you really have no use for self-pity. There's really no reason for you to feel sorry for yourself. Do not compare. Do not exaggerate. Do not create drama. Do not think you're less than. Go and get yours. Prove it to yourself. Show up for the curriculum that is your life today. Even if it's hard, get it. If you graduate from Yale or Harvard, someone's going to say, or even let's say you become a doctor, someone's going to go, "Whoa! That must've been hard." "Yeah, it was hard. Heck, yeah, it was hard. I don't want my brain surgeon to say, 'Ah, it's nothing.'" I want someone that has some grit that can get through the hard stuff, that can handle a challenge. They go into my brain and there's something in there unexpected, I don't want him to freak out because their life's been easy their whole life. I want them to be like, "Listen. This is a crazy thing that's happening in your brain but I can handle it, right, because I've practiced handling hard things."
All right, you guys. Do your work on this. Check it out and try to be someone that doesn't feel sorry for themselves. Try to work towards being someone that does not experience self-pity. I have a really special treat for you guys. Those of you who are interested and listening to some of my coaches have been staying on after the outro to listen to them and I've got an amazing awesome feedback. I know, right? The coaches that we train and coaches that are out there helping people in the world are such a huge piece of my, I would say, pride in this world and just feeling like so many of them are out there doing great work. I'm thrilled that you guys are enjoying the segments and I'm going to go ahead and keep doing them. Of course, those of you who aren't interested, no problem. Once the outro starts playing, you just turn it off. No big deal. It's a win-win for everyone.
The coach that I am featuring today is Joann Filomena. One of the things that I love about training coaches is to watch their own growth during our six days together and the months that follow. This work, when you do it in an intense way in person, is crazy awesome to watch. Everybody that goes through it was like, "What just happened?" I love watching people take the work that I have created to use on myself to make my life better and watch them not only use them on themselves but then to use it on their clients. I think Joann does a brilliant job in this segment referring to some of the tools that I teach and her interpretation and her approach with them and adding much more value than has already been provided. I'm really excited to introduce her. I hope that you'll enjoy her. If you love my podcast, I think that you'll love the topics that she talks about coming up here: focus, willpower, and desire. Please enjoy. Take care, everyone. Talk to you next week. Bye-bye.
If you enjoy listening to this podcast, you have to come check out Self Coaching Scholars. It's my monthly coaching program where we take all this material and we apply it. We take it to the next level and we study it. Join me over at TheLifeCoachSchool.com/join. Make sure you type in the The, T-H-E, LifeCoachSchool.com/join. I'd love to have you join me in Self Coaching Scholars. See you there.
Podcast Feature: Joann Filomena
Hi. This is Joann Filomena from JoannTheLifeCoach.com. I am so honored to be included on Brooke Castillo's podcast. I've had many mentors in my life but studying, coaching directly with Brooke has been my greatest influence. She's a brilliant teacher so if you have a calling to serve others as a life coach, there is no better out there. That's an unbiased opinion, I promise. Maybe a little biased.
What does focus, willpower, and desire have in common. We do not have unlimited amounts of any of these. Focus is a function of our prefrontal cortex. You've probably listened to Brooke talk about higher brain in the front of our head, the part that makes us human. The prefrontal cortex is where we can plan and make decisions, differentiate between good and bad, better and best. This is the part of our brain that can predict outcomes and set future goals. It's basically the keyboard of our computer. It can create the input for the rest of our brain functions.
Focus, willpower, and desire are all part of the prefrontal cortex's functions. These are not unlimited resources. As you focus intently on something, all other things start to tune out. If you're engrossed in a movie, it makes it easier for someone to sneak up on you from behind and scare you. This is because almost all of your focus was directed at that movie. If you had unlimited amounts of focus, you could focus on the task forever without any distraction ever, but focus is not unlimited. Have you ever focused on something for so long and so intensely that you finally had to just go lie down. Working throughout my afternoon on my computer, I find I have to break away and get coffee, take a walk, look out the window. The more of your focus you direct on one thing, the less focus is left for anything else. Asserting willpower takes up some of our focus.
Brooke has always said, "Willpower, the only time you need to use willpower is when you're doing something you don't really want to do." Willpower is not unlimited. You only have just so much willpower to apply at any given time. When you're dieting, it's taking your willpower and a lot of your focus is being placed there to ensure that willpower doesn't waver. You're also focusing on what you're going to eat that day, how many calories and points is it, how will you get through your coffee break at work when there's sure to be a pile of donuts sitting in a box in the break room? Are you seeing the immediate consequences of using a portion of your focus to stay on the traditional diet program? What happens to the amount of focus you would normally expend on your task at work or on your kids at home even just on reading a book?
When you pull focus into that one area of dieting, you're losing out on the rest of what's going on in your life. It's not like you put focus into the diet for a few minutes and then, then you can pull it back and focus on your job. If you're engaging willpower, it takes constant focus. If you didn't have any focus at all directed to your willpower, you might just get up from your desk and hit the break room for that donut right now. What? You don't want to eat the donut? Better keep some focus on your willpower. Do you begin to see what happens especially willpower is finite? You can only maintain that white-knuckled grip on your diet for so long before your prefrontal cortex eventually has to let go. It might be in 12 weeks. It might be in six weeks. It might be in six days. It might be in six hours.
Eventually, something else is going to come up in your life that needs some immediate focus and the focus on your willpower applied to your diet is going to have to go. Say your child becomes chronically ill, your husband loses his job…maybe you're surprised with a birthday cruise without having a chance to plan for it. Maybe there's some sudden huge project at work dumped in your lap. It can be anything of any importance or size that starts clamoring for your prefrontal cortex to focus in some executive function.
You find yourself wondering what the heck happened to your motivation. You just cannot seem to get yourself back on track no matter how hard you try. You blame yourself endlessly for backsliding and regaining weight. This is why dieting is difficult to sustain. For when the fact that your body may rebel because your brain fights for survival against the lack of food, what are your chances for succeeding with a traditional diet plan? I'll tell you: less than 5%. Some studies say less than 1% and we blame ourselves. The truth is it's the diet that doesn't work.
You're fine. Your brain and body are functioning as designed to provide you with the best chances of survival. It's the number one function of your brain and your body to protect you. They perform amazingly well. This is why you need to be in touch with them, understand them, and listen to them. This is how you're going to find your way back to your best body. This is how you're going to get your healthiest and most preserved alive body.
Now let's bring desire in, the final leg of this triad. We have programmed in the desire response but we've not been consciously aware of exactly where we've been programming in desire. We have heaps of desire programmed in for a snack in the evening and only a tad of desire programmed in for wearing that cute dress in the back of your closet that doesn't zip up anymore. You see, just like focus and willpower, desire is not an unlimited resource. You only have just so much desire. If you pile desire onto something, it starts to be pulled away from other places in your life. Maybe you really do desire to wear that cute dress. You desire your loving husband. You desire your child's happiness. You also desire to eat pizza and ice cream.
Suddenly that bucket of desire is being poured all over the image in your head of the pizza and ice cream. Little desire is left in that bucket for the dress, for your husband, for your child. Is there any wonder that you went ahead and pigged out that evening at the pizza parlor, felt wonderful to do that. All that desire was dumped out and then rewarded. No desire left for your husband, no desire to bother you about your child's happiness. You would never consciously spend more desire on pizza than you would on your child's happiness. I totally get that, the same for desiring is that handsome man or woman that you married. It becomes obvious that it's critical for us to get a handle on just where our desire is being directed or misdirected. Brooke Castillo reminds us that the brain unobserved is like a child running with a knife, and so it is even with your bucket of desire.
Sit down right now and draw two large circles on a piece of paper. These are going to become your pie charts for desire. The first chart is how much of that circle is going to what you have in your life right now. When I did this exercise in Advanced Training, I didn't even have to think hard. I knew darn well I had a large portion of that pie going towards eating satisfaction. Think of your desire in the three categories of unanswered neglected desire, things that you've yearned for but have just not put any focus of desire into, kind of towards the things that you feel like I can't have it. There's quick fix escape desire, food, alcohol, Facebook time, shopping. This is that I-just-want-it desire. Last is the genuinely answered desire, things you already have. Maybe it's your car, your house, your husband.
In the first pie chart, how has your desire been divided up? It's an eye-opener if you do this honestly. Now for the second pie chart, where do you want to spend your desire? How much desire would you put towards weight loss. Just probably an unanswered neglected desire in your life as opposed to how much desire you're going to put out there for dessert, the quick-fix desire. How about all the rest of your life around you, the desire for your mate, your job or your business success, your desire for self evolution? Look at that new chart. Where would you consciously want to place your capacities for desire.
After doing this exercise for the first time myself, I had questions. When a desire is fulfilled, is there now excess desire hanging out there that I need to redirect before it defaults to my lower brain and goes to donuts or to alcohol to shopping? I also wondered, "Can I flip the switch on desire? The next time I have a huge craving for chocolate chip cookies, is there a switch to flip all that desire right back over to the cute dress in my closet?"
In Advanced Training, they said desire feels good but I immediately thought to myself, "No. To me, it feels wild and out of control. Guess what? After working with that exercise and paying attention to desire consciously, it begins to feel less wild. It was wild and out of control because I was being wild and out of control with my desire. I was not even aware that I could consciously choose where my desire goes, but I can. The last few evenings when the urge has come up for a snack at 8:30 or nine in the evening, I've noticed it without reaction to it. I thought, "Ah, there's that misdirected desire," but I also want to desire that really nice moss green silk tank and skirt I used to love wearing. Drop the mic, lady. If there were a row of switches on a switch plate labeled snack, three of them just flipped to off and several of the switches over on the switch plate labeled I want to wear the green silk outfit switched on.
I was stunned at how immediate it was. This is revolutionary, I tell you. I had to sit there and continue to experience the flow of desire and I needed to flip those switches back a few times but I did it. The second night was easier. Reprogramming your flow of desire in your desire apps that you've programmed into your lower brain seemed far easier than I ever dreamed it could be. Becoming aware of the amount of desire you're directing consciously and how much is still being directed by that child running with a knife, become aware of that.
If you want to start integrating more steps into overcoming overeating, you can take advantage of my free Starters Guide to Overcoming Overeating. It's just five simple steps that just may change the way you eat forever and it's free. Don't just download it. Do it. Taking those simple actions will begin to show you immediate results. No willpower needed. Just go to JoannTheLifeCoach.com/FreeGuide. Again, I am J-O-A-N-N, with no E, TheLifeCoach.com, add /FreeGuide to get that Starters Guide to Overcoming Overeating. Thank you again to Brooke Castillo for the honor of being able to provide a segment on her podcast. I hope to talk to you again soon.