Confidence in ourselves and our abilities often does not come naturally us, especially when you are unhappy with your weight. It is a byproduct of the sum of all of our thoughts and the experiences we have. The more negative experiences we have the more risk adverse we become, and the less we are willing to put ourselves out there in case we fail… again.
Say you take part in something that requires you to offer your opinion, come up with solutions, or get work done and then there is a positive result. It’s much easier to feel that you played a valuable part and feel good about your own abilities and self-worth in this scenario. This might make you a little more likely to try something out of your comfort zone the next time.
What happens if the opposite is true? You try your hardest, and the result is negative… You are criticised, things don’t go to plan, you make someone unhappy, or make a mistake. You’ll probably be a lot more cautious the next time, and take even fewer risks than before. Enough of these types of bad experiences and your confidence can be shaken enough that you start avoiding all risks.
What does all this have to do with weight loss?
Ever been so self-conscious about how you look that you pulled out of that group exercise class? The risk of being judged was too intimidating. Ever given in to that slice of cake being offered to you because you didn’t want to draw attention to the fact that you were on a diet? The risk of drawing attention to your weight was too overwhelming.
Luckily it turns out that this kind of thinking can be changed over time, and you can increase risk threshold. Let’s break down how to do this…
If you find that your mind keeps wandering back to worrying thoughts about things that could go wrong, rather than trying to force yourself to stop thinking like that another strategy could prove more helpful. One well-known technique used by athletes and entrepreneurs who have achieved feats others would consider impossible is visualisation.
Let’s say you know that someone at work has a birthday coming up. You could play out a situation in your mind where you feel confident to say no when the cake is offered to you. You might practice different phrases such as “Oh none for me thank you, I just had a big lunch.”
What if you were to imagine this over and over, but instead of being worrying, you saw yourself feeling totally confident as you say it, feeling good about your decision, and having great energy in the afternoon as you’ve avoided that sugar crash. Enough repetition and it might start to feel more natural to you and that confidence would become more real.
Failure can be a good thing
Experiencing failure can actually a method for success. People who have come up against adversity in life are more likely to plan ahead and consider things that could go wrong, and as such are able to make more informed decisions and take more risks. Someone that hasn’t thought through the worst case scenarios may be more likely to respond with a knee jerk reaction that is risk averse.
Let’s say that a friend asks you to do a yoga class with her. You could go with your gut instincts and just say no, or you could say “Let me get back to you.” Then you might take some time, consider the pros and cons. What’s the worst that could happen? What’s the likelihood that this will happen? What’s the best that could happen? Do the potential benefits outweigh the risks? You can then come back to your friend with an answer that’s founded on logic rather than fear.
When making important decisions, try shifting your focus to one of curiosity rather than taking things personally. What can be learned? What could you try differently next time? Risk taking can feel stressful because the outcome can’t always be anticipated, despite your best planning attempts. If something doesn’t go the way it should, consider this a trigger for changing something rather than a sign you should give up, or are a failure.
Say you try an exercise class and feel like the people there are super fit and are judging you, or the exercises are too hard, or the instructor is mean. You could decide to never go to another exercise class again… or you could decide to tweak your strategy. The next class you go you actually enjoy because you’ve done a little more research, found a group whose members are beginners like you, and which has a supportive and encouraging instructor.
Know your why
Knowing what you want, how you are going to get it, and why this matters so much to you is incredibly important. Perhaps one of your core values is taking care of your family. You know that getting fit and healthy will allow you to have more energy to do this. Keeping this value at the forefront of your mind might give you the motivation to put yourself out there a little more and try new things.
The more baby steps you take- starting with small things that are just a little outside your comfort zone- the more comfortable you might start to become. If losing weight, getting healthy, and getting fit is something you really want, small daily changes can add up to a total lifestyle overhaul in the long run.