One of the things I hear so often in my role as a wellbeing coach is ‘I know what I need to do but I just can’t seem to do it’.
Well you’re definitely not alone! Whenever we want to change or improve something in our life that we think will make our lives better, it should be simple right?
Knowing what we need to do should be enough for us to be able to just get on and do it. However it’s never quite that simple!
To create positive change in your life, for example adopting new habits that will make you feel healthier – has two sides. A practical side and a mindset side.
What we think about a situation or a change we’d like to make in our lives is just as important as the action we’re taking to make that happen. Often without the mindset side being right, the action just stalls or never happens at all!
But it’s not just the conscious thoughts that matter, it’s also the thoughts that sit just below the surface, in our subconscious minds too.
A simple tool I use to help me move forward is identifying the negative consequences that the desired change might bring about. Now this might seem counterintuitive – however, whether those thoughts exist on a conscious level or not, if a part of your brain thinks the changes you want to make will create something negative or ‘unsafe’ you better believe your brain will do everything it can to stop it from happening!
Negative Consequences Tool
All you do is write a list whenever a thought pops up. Begin with reminding yourself why you want to change what you want to change and then list the negative consequences. For example if you want to lose weight, some negative consequences might be:
I want to lose weight to:
- Feel more confident
- To decrease the pressure on my joints
- To protect my health for the future
Negative consequences of losing weight:
- I’ll need to buy a totally new wardrobe
- I might get unwanted attention
- I’ll not be able to eat freely ever again
- I’ll binge again
Then, once you’ve written your list you’ll probably notice some of the things sound a bit daft, but that’s ok and probably means you’re on the right track as your subconscious mind isn’t very logical!
The next step is to go through the list and rationalise it:
Negative consequences of losing weight:
- I’ll need to buy a totally new wardrobe >>> I don’t want to lose the amount of weight that would require a completely new wardrobe anyway, plus I intend to lose weight slowly and sustainability so I won’t have to replace all of my clothes at once
- I might get unwanted attention >>> you’re a confident woman who can handle any unwanted advances if they did happen
- I’ll not be able to eat freely ever again >>> this just isn’t the truth, you know you’ll be able to find a sensible balance
- I’ll binge >>> you understand why you used to binge eat in the past and you’re confident you can change that old pattern
What you might find in doing this exercise is that some of the negative consequences are actually limiting beliefs – the difference being that a limiting belief is a reason why you don’t feel you can do something and a negative consequence is something that would happen as a result of achieving it.
Identifying limiting beliefs is also a great part of this tool because you’re able to get to another layer of things that might hold you back. Treat a list of limiting beliefs in a similar way, but reply to each limiting belief with the reasons why they aren’t true! You can even flip your limiting beliefs into positive affirmations, for example:
I can’t lose weight without getting obsessed – ‘I can lose weight in a steady, sensible way’
The idea is that you bring those negative consequences and limiting beliefs to the surface so you can deal with them. If you want to get witchy with it you can always burn the list when you’re done!
Of course mindset work does involve a bit more than just this, but the negative consequences tool is a really great place to start!
I’d love to know your thoughts on this! Have you ever done any work on your mindset? What negative consequences have come up for you?
Reminder – my Mindset Makeover Course is opening again soon! This course is packed with practical tools to help you master your mindset.
*I’ve used weight loss as the example here because it’s something many of us can relate to, but in no way am I suggesting weight loss should be a goal in general! This process can be applied to any change you want to make in your life – finding a new job, saving money, getting fit etc*