This week, I’m inviting you to entertain the idea that who you are today is only temporary. The reality is that all of us are constantly changing and evolving, and when you’re struggling with your weight and self-image, this is great news.
Tune in this week as I outline an exercise to demonstrate how you have changed and are changeable. So many of us think we have our opinions and beliefs locked down, and that we know what we’re capable of or what our future will look like, but applying the concepts I’m sharing with you today is going to give you a much wider lens to see your life through and so many more opportunities to move forward in your life.
This is Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown, episode 44.
Welcome to Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown. If you’re a successful woman who is ready to stop struggling with your weight, you’re in the right place. You’ll learn everything you need to know to lose weight for the last time in bitesize pieces. Here’s your host, certified life and weight coach Natalie Brown.
Hello everybody. Do you remember MTV? Now, I know MTV still exists, but I’m talking about the old school back in the day original MTV of the 90s, with music videos most of the time and awesome shows like The Real World and Remote Control and Singled Out and Diary the rest of the time.
I can still repeat the opening to The Real World. Do you guys remember it? This is the true story of seven strangers picked to live in a house. The opening of the show Diary, which was basically a day in the life of a celebrity up close and personal was this. You think you know, but you have no idea. Do you remember that?
That is the phrase that keeps coming to my mind as I reflect on 2020 coming to an end and I look back at me one year ago. You think you know but you have no idea, 2019 Natalie. If we have learned one thing this year, it is adaptability to changes outside of our control, right?
That so many of the things we think we know to be certain, true, unchanging, just the way it is, are not that at all. Things can change in a blink. This is easy to observe in the world, but so much harder to see in ourselves.
We see the world changing, the possibility of it changing, we can see how much we have changed in the past, but then we have what Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert calls “an end of history illusion about the future where we someone imagine that the person we are right now is the person we’ll be for the rest of time.”
I love this quote by Mr. Gilbert. “Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they are finished.” We have all these labels about ourselves and our identity that we have developed over time that are determining how we show up in our lives and in weight loss.
Things we picked up in our childhoods, from our society and culture, from personality tests, from other people’s opinions. We say things like it’s who I am, that’s so like me, this is what I do, I’m so blank. And these beliefs are backed up with evidence from our past.
When it comes to the future, we have no evidence and frankly, hardly any real imagination for what is possible for us. So we just resign ourselves to the idea that this is who I am and will be forever, period. This is a fantastic thought if we believe ourselves to be capable, strong, resilient, and wise, but can by contrast be quite destructive if we believe ourselves to be inadequate, unreliable, weak, and broken, as many of us do who struggle with our self-image and with our weight.
The reality is, however, we are always changing and evolving. We don’t stay the same. The me of today is temporary. So much of our personality that we think just is is optional. Feeling skeptical about this maybe because you don’t believe you have changed or can? I have a little exercise for you.
Think about who you were three years ago, five years ago, or 10 years ago. Just think about where you were, what you were doing, what your life was like. What was your favorite thing to do? What was your biggest worry? What was a typical day in your life?
So think about those three things and then compare them to now. What’s your favorite thing to do right now? What is your biggest worry today? What is your typical day-to-day life like? Think about something that challenged you then and how you reacted or showed up for it then, and then think about if that same thing were to happen now, how you would react or show up as you are right now.
I have sort of a funny example of this in my life. So I used to really value the appearance of my children as a reflection of myself, as a mother. I had very strong opinions about how my children should look when walking out of my house.
I thought if they were clean, neat, matching, had impressive hairstyles, and were wearing the latest line from whatever store I was into at the time, that would signal to the world that they were well cared for by an obviously amazing mother. I took it very seriously.
And you can imagine that when my middle daughter went through a phase where she wanted to dress like Punky Brewster when she was in kindergarten, that I could hardly handle it. What did it say about me? Always about me.
Prior to her first day of kindergarten, we went shopping for some cute new mom-approved outfits for her to wear, but when it came time to get dressed for that first day, she wanted to dress like Punky. She didn’t want to wear the new clothes.
Well, my super controlling appearance obsessed self of the time could not bear it. Heaven forbid the other children and mothers think something of me on the first day of school based on what she was wearing. She wanted to dress like her and express herself and who she was to her new classmates, and I wanted her to dress like I wanted her to and express who I was to the world. Amazing mother with perfect children of course.
We had a knockdown drag out fight about it. Me yelling, her crying. You would have thought it was literally the end of the world the way I was clinging to my position. She ended up doing as she was told and going to school in her shiny new clothes with perfect hair and big puffy red eyes to top it off from her crying all morning.
I met her back at school at the end of the day with matching big puffy red eyes because I spent the morning feeling mounds of regret at how I had behaved. It feels like a lifetime ago when I think about that scenario and who I was then and what I thought then and how I felt then.
Fast forward to the me of today, I live with so much less fear about what other people think and with so much more love and acceptance of myself and my children for who we are. My youngest asks me my opinion about her outfits, what she wears, what she puts on, and my reaction is to encourage her to find her own preferences and to own them no matter what anyone else thinks, including me.
I know that only I decide what kind of mother I am and I fulfill that role based on my values. Not what other people have decided I should do or is best. Totally different place.
I think sometimes when we’re looking back three or five or 10 years, we think I haven’t changed that much, I’m just older. I have the same job, same house, basically the same life, that’s why I love looking at things I’m excited about or concerned about now, how I react to things now, what I value now compared to three or five or 10 years ago to kind of gage my change and progress and evolving. I think it’s a little bit better measure.
Look a little deeper than the surface here to see what has actually changed for you and in you. The idea of this exercise is for you to really notice how much room there is for imagination and growth in your future. If the 10 years ago me could see the now me, which was her future me, she would not know how to comprehend what she was seeing, which makes me think about the 10 years from now me, my future me, and how massive the possibilities for her are based on my last 10 years and all of the changes that I’ve seen.
If I could come this far in 10 years, think how far I could go in the next 10. So here’s where the idea of a temporary me comes in. Have you heard the phrase strong opinions weakly held? Sometimes you hear it as strong opinions loosely held. Either way, the man who developed this concept is a Stanford University professor and Silicon Valley based technology forecaster named Paul Saffo.
If you Google his name, it pulls up as Paul Saffo-Futurist. That’s the first thing on Google, which I love so much. Because I talk so much about future focus. I want us to all be futurists. I think that’s the coolest title. This framework is applied in his field in essence to allow decisions or forecasts to be made without having to have all the info.
So I’ll read you his words and then we’ll kind of talk about how we apply it here. “Allow your intuition to guide you to a conclusion, no matter how imperfect. This is the strong opinion part. Then, and this is the weakly held part, prove yourself wrong. Engage in creative doubt. Look for information that doesn’t fit or indicators that are pointing in an entirely different direction. Eventually, your intuition will kick in and a new hypothesis will emerge out of the rubble, ready to be ruthlessly torn apart once again. You’ll be surprised by how quickly the sequence of faulty forecasts will deliver you a useful result.”
So we as humans here, especially in the weight loss arena, have the strong opinion part down, don’t we? When it comes to ourselves and what we’re capable of and our future prospects, we think we know. What we want to apply is the weakly held part.
Sometimes I’ve heard it referred to as loosely held like I said before, which I kind of prefer just based on the connotation most of us have of the word weak when it comes to anything in reference to ourselves and weight loss and what we’re capable of.
So I’m not asking you to give up everything you currently believe about who you are and what you can do and believe something better and more useful immediately. You can keep those strong opinions. What I’m asking you to entertain is the idea that the you that you are right now is temporary.
When your brain offers you the thought, this is who I am, I want you to add temporarily to the end of it. When you hear your brain offer any opinions of who you are and what you are capable of as if they are period at the end of the sentence facts, I want you to change the period to a comma and add the word temporarily.
Notice how just that simple shift can loosen the hold. For example, losing weight is hard for me temporarily. I’m a big girl, temporarily. I’m struggling with sticking to my plan, writing down my plan, caring about my plan, having a plan, temporarily.
I’m hearing version of this a lot from my clients lately, can you tell? And then let’s get to work proving ourselves wrong. Actively showing ourselves that there might be other things that are true, other options of who we could be or become.
This process of holding our opinions loosely and working to prove to ourselves what else is possible can help us overcome some of our inherent biases, like confirmation bias. And the phenomenon of WYSIATI, or What You See Is All There Is, as Daniel Kahneman calls it.
We have a tendency to jump to conclusions based on limited evidence. Our brain concocts these stories to explain what happened based on what we already believe to be true, what we already see. When we are willing to hold loosely to these beliefs and opinions and to ask is what I see all there is, we give ourselves an opportunity to move forward.
As professor Richard Feynman said, “We are trying to prove ourselves wrong as quickly as possible because only in that way can we find progress.”
Okay my friends, in this season of giving, I am giving away $50 Amazon gift cards every week to some lucky listeners and all you have to do is share the podcast to be eligible to win.
Follow me on Instagram at @itbeginswithathoughtcoaching and then share one of my many podcast posts to your story and you’ll be entered to win. Super simple. Have an amazing, fantastic week. I’ll see you soon.
Thanks for listening to this week’s episode of Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown. If you want to learn more about how to lose weight for the last time, come on over to itbeginswithathought.com. We’ll see you here next week.