After going to bed early last night I woke this morning when it was still dark and couldn't get back to sleep but was feeling cosy and comfortable and I didn't mind at all. I started thinking about an article I'd read a couple of days ago. In this particular study, they gave a lecture to new college students about how the first semester can be hard and people might do badly in exams, but that generally students got themselves together and did well after that. Other students didn't get this lecture, and some of them felt that an early failure meant a total failure. The ones who did get the lecture were more likely to think that a setback wasn't the end of the world, and they went on to do well.
Apparently there are two ways of thinking about yourself (and other people). One is "this is how I am, I'm good at a, b and c; I'm bad at x, y and z; that is just the way I was born." This is generally the way I think. The other (arguably better, more successful) way of thinking is that people can change and develop, and nothing is set in stone.
My inner belief about myself includes plenty of positive things: I'm smart, I have a nice singing voice, I am a good cook, if I consistently practice guitar I will get good at it, I am a good writer, and many other good things. But when I look at how I think about my weight and health, it is all bad.
I cannot resist certain foods.
I am lazy.
I hate being hot.
Exercise makes me depressed immediately afterwards.
I will be very unhappy if I'm not allowed to eat whatever I want.
Running makes my shins hurt.
My shoulder injuries inhibit me from doing many kinds of exercise.
Exercise is difficult and boring.
I have always been a poor sleeper.
I fail every time I try to diet.
I get sick easily and often.
I hate having to go to the bathroom so often when I try to drink more water.
I suck at meditation.
I have no core strength which makes many exercises difficult or impossible.
If treat foods are in the house, I will eat them.
I deserve to eat junk on special occasions.
and worst of all?
I am incapable of losing weight.
There is evidence to support all of these beliefs, after all the last 20 years have been a constant struggle with my weight and I have never successfully lost more than 5 kg - which I have then put back on. I have genuine injuries and health problems. But. I look at this list and wonder; how is this list of beliefs affecting me? Which is the cause, and which is the effect? Do I fail at diets because I believe I will? What would happen if I believed something else? Where does knowing yourself cross the line into trapping yourself into a certain mould? How do you go about changing beliefs that you've had for years?