In my previous article, I wrote about that the term lifestyle change – which is so fashionable these days – is about much more than we might first think. In addition to the physical dimension – such as exercises and diet -, which is often equated with lifestyle change, there are two other dimensions to consider. And it is worth considering them all, if we want to change our whole life, our whole lifestyle, in a way that can make a real, profound difference to our future and remain sustainable in the long term. So, in addition to the physical dimension, it is definitely worth addressing both the mental dimension and that of the emotions, the soul.
After all, it is not just our bodies that need to be trained and not only its needs should be taken care of – just as a human being doesn’t consists of only a body either. It is equally important to pay attention to our mental abilities and our soul and emotions, which are parts of our being. As I wrote in my previous article, it is easy to slip into focusing on only one or the other of the three dimensions. However, in the long run, the real goal in life should be to find a balance in our daily life where we are able to pay attention to all three dimensions more or less equally. Only this can bring real and sustainable positive change in our lives.
But of course, I know that it is easy to say this and to write it down here, but it is much more difficult to put it into practice. Because there are so many subconscious programs running in the background that are sneakily working on preventing us from achieving real change.
This includes not only the habits of our life so far but also all the things we have been conditioned to do in our childhood. Because what was built into us as a “fact” in our childhood – in connection with our physical, mental or emotional/soul dimension – we carry those with us in our lives until we question it, until we realise that it is not a useful idea or practice for us. Then we have to unravel the root of that thought or practice within ourselves.
The three dimensions – physical, mental and emotional/soul – are very different. Therefore, it is also worthwhile to examine separately the blockages that may prevent us from changing within one dimension or another. I have highlighted below some of the possible blockages, for each of the three dimensions.
Blockages of the physical dimension
If you didn’t play sport regularly as a child, or only did so for a while, you may not have been able to build this positive habit into your life. It didn’t become a routine to take care of your physical body and its needs. It is very likely that your parents did not do this regularly either, so they could not pass this pattern on to you. And as a child, you were used to not doing that. And here we can expand this topic to include not only the sports specifically but also the topic of eating and the topic of a physically healthy lifestyle. Because they often go together – or fail together.
Those who are not taught and helped as children to pay attention to their physical body and to a physically healthy lifestyle can often struggle with obesity. And the mocking they suffer because of this can leave deep scars in their soul. Childhood bullying can result in low self-esteem, self-worth and self-love, which can make them feel worthless and less than others. Not to mention that an unhealthy lifestyle can make them physically ill, with even more serious consequences as adults.
The good news is that it’s never too late to make a change – regarding either of the dimensions. So, we can always decide to start paying attention to the physical dimension.
As far as the exercise part is concerned, there is no better solution than to make ourselves go out and do some exercise. It could be a gym, if we feel we have enough determination and are ready to do what we have planned on our own. If we need a little more motivation to get going, it might be worth going to a personal trainer regularly, who can be a great source of motivation to keep going. Or go to group classes or start some regular team sports. Maybe take dance classes or go hiking with a group of people.
It is important to find a form of exercise that you can commit to. It doesn’t have to be for life, give yourself the option to change whenever you feel the need.
It’s perfectly normal to need a different kind of physical activity from time to time. Allow yourself to try something new. The important thing is to observe yourself while you’re doing it: what makes you feel really good afterwards? What really feels best for you? And by asking these questions, you’ll be able to find a sustainable way to keep your body happy.
Another cornerstone of the physical dimension is food. If you are having problems here, it is worth wondering what the emotional background might be. Of course, there are physical factors here too, such as food allergies and intolerances, but there is also an emotional factor behind all this.
If your problem is, for example, that you don’t eat enough and you torture yourself this way, then the question to ask yourself is: which area of your life do you feel that you cannot control, hence you overcontrol the area of food intake as a negative coping mechanism?
If your problem is more about eating too much, then think about what is missing in your life? Instead of what are you putting too much food into your body? Do you not get enough love in your life? Are you compensating for the lack of attention from others? Is it a way of punishing yourself for some subconscious “guilt”? Or do you eat too much when you are bored? Are you trying to compensate for your low sense of psychological safety by eating?
Whether your problem is eating too little or too much, or not paying attention to your physical body and exercise, it is definitely worth exploring the emotional causes. Because if these blocks are not removed, it will take a huge effort to change your physical dimension and you will probably want to give up the changing process even if you have already started.
Blockages of the mental dimension
In this dimension (also), the reinforcement you received from your parents and your environment as a child has a very big impact. Because these reinforcements are built into a young child as a fact and as an adult you have to work on rewriting these facts/beliefs.
If your parents or your environment kept telling you as a child that you are not smart, that you are not able to learn and do things, you can continue to believe this as an adult and it can block you changing your life. Such impulses can destroy your self-belief in your mental abilities to such an extent that even a very smart child will believe themself to be stupid. As they, who are not believed in as a child, will not believe in themselves afterwards. And then they carry it with them as adults, undermining their own life and development. And when other people stop telling them that they are stupid, they will continue to tell it to themselves. That’s how these negative conditionings work.
Self-destruction is set in motion. Not only at the level of the negative inner monologue, “I can’t learn or do this”, but also in the form of concrete actions.
For example, you start to take a course, but your “I can’t do it” programme running in the background will eventually get you to the point where, when it comes to the exam, eventually you don’t even study for it. You don’t allow yourself enough time to prepare, or you do everything but studying. You procrastinate until you can’t actually prepare for the exam, which you then fail. And then you can say to yourself the familiar phrase: “I told you I can’t do this, I’m not clever enough”. But it was nothing to do with your “cleverness”, if you think about it.
The most important first step is to become aware that what you have believed about yourself is not necessarily true. You need to question this brought pattern in order to then push it out of your life.
You must learn to believe in yourself, in your mental abilities. Start learning something you’ve always wanted to learn. Start with something small, something that can give you the sense of achievement, the sense of succeeding. Then choose something bigger, more serious, that will give you a greater sense of achievement. And so on. Building on this, you will be able to rewrite that negative sentence you brought and build a realistic image of yourself.
At the other end of the scale, in your childhood you were always told by your parents and the people around you that you are the best and the smartest. It may sound strange, but this can be just as damaging to a child as the other, previous end of the scale. After all, if a child is consistently the best and smartest according to their parents, what happens when the opposite is proven? For example, if they don’t win the maths competition at school? This child will not be able to handle the fact that they have lost, that they are not the best – despite the fact that this child already thinks so as a result of the parents’ conditioning. Then comes the tantrum, aggression, frustration, feeling depressed. And this behaviour is carried over into this person’s adulthood. Furthermore, as a consequence, from a very young age they are convinced that they must be the best in everything, so they might be willing to push anyone down to achieve that.
If this is the pattern that your parents have passed on to you, the first thing you must face is that you are not perfect and you cannot always be the best in everything. And you also must accept that you don’t even have to be perfect and you don’t have to be the best in everything all the time.
You must accept that you are valuable and lovable even if you are not perfect. You still have the knowledge even if you don’t get an A grade. Even if someone knows more about a topic than you do, it’s OK. Think of these as learning opportunities, rather than letting the pushing-down mechanism spring into action in such cases. Learn to be realistic about what you’re worth and that it’s absolutely enough.
In the continuation of this article, you can read about the blocks of the third, emotional/soul dimension. You can get to know some of those negative inner phrases that we use to block ourselves from successfully changing our emotional/soul dimension.
Dimensions of the real lifestyle change
Reconnecting to the outside world – after winter and Covid – 1st part
Reconnecting to the outside world – after winter and Covid – 2nd part
Rising through resilience: Savio P. Clemente’s interview with Dóri Padla on the five things you can do to become more resilient during turbulent times
The pleaser syndrome: signs, disadvantages and the healing process
Changing yourself and your life – Why so painful?
Are you success-oriented or a failure-avoider?
Everyone can only see what they are ready for…
Expectations, that we should let go of
As a grown-up becoming and Adult
The trap of “…but what will others think”
The fear of spending time alone
The danger of the ’love-chocolates’
Helping others and accepting help
Starving for crumbs of attention