In the first part of this article series, I wrote about the dimensions of a real lifestyle change. It is along the triad of physical, mental and emotional dimensions that a real, profound and long-term sustainable positive lifestyle change can be achieved – because a person is a unity of body, mind and soul, not just one or the other. Then, in the second part of the series, I looked at the blockages that can prevent us from making changes in the physical or mental realm and how we can start to work on them.
Now, in the third and final part, you can read about those aspects of the emotional dimension that, either on the conscious or subconscious level, work against us being able to make real change in our lives in this respect.
This includes, in fact, all the emotional blocks that we bring with us from our own past, but which no longer serve our progress in the present. This seems like a broad topic – and it is, in fact. If we now look at these mental blocks in terms of the lifestyle change, there can be a wide range of things that we are doing to hinder our own progress in life.
As I said earlier, only by developing the physical, mental and emotional dimensions together we can really change our lifestyle in an effective and sustainable way. No matter what we would like to change in the other two dimensions, if our soul and our emotions are constantly working against it.
In relation to the emotions and our soul, perhaps the self-reflection is more important than anything else. The key is to be able to look at our own emotional functioning, our reactions, our feelings from the outside, at least occasionally.
The more consciously we can look at our own automatisms, the more chance we have of recognising the “programmes” running in the background which, although they are constantly influencing us psychologically, may not be useful to us (any more). The same is true for lifestyle change. There are many running programmes – let’s call them negative internal phrases for now – that try to keep us from making progress in this area.
In order to trigger your own thinking on this, I have collected for you below some of the negative internal phrases that can hold back the progress on the emotional dimension of our lifestyle change.
1. “I can’t afford to care about myself.”
If you grew up as a child constantly having to “make others happy”, having to focus on them, you have not learned how to take care of yourself. You don’t know how to pay attention to your own needs, your own necessities, your own emotions. If this negative way of functioning is not brought to the conscious level and it is not resolved, you can be sure that it will make it difficult for you to change your lifestyle. You will feel that you are not allowed to afford the time, money, energy to spend on yourself, you will find it more important to do chores, to serve others, you will prioritize the needs of others over your own.
This way, you practically miss out on your own life. Because you are not living your own life, but that of other people. You need to look at where and towards whom/what your focus is excessively turning instead of yourself.
On your work? Your partner? Your parents? Your family? On the problems of the world? Reclaim the energy you’ve been sending out and start investing it in yourself. By spending less time on other people’s stuff, you’ll be able to spend more time on yourself.
Closely related to this negative inner sentence is the issue of pleasing others. If one of the pillars of your emotional functioning is to adjust your actions to please others, you are again distancing yourself from yourself. If you are constantly thinking about “what will others think”, then almost everything you do will be aligned with that thinking. Not what you want, what you need, what you desire. It’s a big trap. Pleasing everyone else is never possible. If you try to do so, it will lead to a kind of disconnection between yourself and your soul. You should really be satisfying one single person instead of everyone else. And it should be your own self. But this is often forgotten. And what do others think? That’s their business. Not yours. You won’t be able to influence it, no matter how hard you try. And the more you try to live your actions, your life, “well, appropriately, exemplarily” according to the opinions of others, the less that life will have to do with you. If you feel that you have room for improvement in this topic, I recommend you to read an earlier article of mine, which is exactly about the trap of “but what will others think”.
2. “That’s all I deserve.”
It often happens that it doesn’t even occur to you that you would deserve more/better. You simply believe that this is what you have been given, you have to be content with that. You are used to suffering, to being miserable, so you don’t even think that changing your lifestyle could be an option. It’s really your comfort zone. The constant suffering to a greater or lesser degree, the constant, or at least regularly recurring struggle. If you don’t have that, you smell trouble. And you might start making things difficult for yourself. That’s another kind of self-sabotage. If someone else doesn’t bring that negative thing into your life that your subconscious is conditioned to, you bring it in yourself. Just to be familiar with the situation, let the automatism thrive.
Because things can’t be easy, that cannot happen, you may think. But actually, the truth couldn’t be farther from this.
Things can be easy. You can have more and better than you have now. It is only the negative inner sentences you carry with you that make you believe that this cannot happen. Examine this belief system and ask for help to unblock them. As a result of this process, you will find it noticeably and visibly easier to make positive changes in your life.
3. “I do not dare to be more/better than this.”
If you think you fall short, if you are small-minded, then you don’t dare to step out into new things. You may find it better to hide in the shadows, where you have been so far, because you already know this place, you think it is safe. You may feel that if you were more than that, or better than that in some area of your life, you would be the focus of too much attention. And that can make you fearful. So, you don’t change your life, your lifestyle, you stay in the shadows.
And this is not the way to progress. However, since you probably bring with you from your past, from your childhood that you should not take risks in life, you are following this “rule” up until today. You don’t dare to take risks, you don’t dare to be more than your parents or the people around you, or anyone else, really.
You might think that if you were better/more than someone around you, you would hurt them, you would make them feel think less of themselves. However, this ways of thinking hold you back from being your real, whole true self.
You don’t have to take responsibility for the lives and feelings of other adult people. I mean, certainly not in the sense that if you start improving in your own life, they feel bad about it. That’s their problem, let them struggle with that themselves – let them think about why they can’t be happy about someone else’s success, why they don’t get inspired by it instead of being spiteful. Your job is to follow your own path, which you will only be able to do if you believe you can dare to be more and better. And in order to get there, you dare to change as well.
Or you might think that being more or better than you are now, could bring unexpected situations into your life that you cannot cope with. And the root of this thought is that you don’t actually believe in yourself, in your abilities and skills. You don’t believe that you can deal with new and unexpected situations. You don’t believe that you are capable. But if you don’t try, you’ll never realise that you can. If you don’t try, you’re left with “living in your head” and not putting new things into practice. My best advice in this case is to take it one small step at a time, try new things, get a taste of it, get a sense of what it’s like to succeed in new situations and it will build your confidence, self-belief and self-esteem.
4. “I am not able to face the negative side of my life.”
What discourages many people from changing their lives is the fear of facing the pain and wounds of their soul. If I don’t deal with it, it doesn’t affect me – you might think. But it is definitely not the case. The fact that you ignore some of your past emotional pain and prefer to put it away in a box, seal it with a padlock and hide it in the cellar, still has a strong effect on you in your life. You may not realize it, but it still does.
So, there’s no point in not facing these wounds. Because if you don’t, you’re just constantly pushing yourself at the subconscious level, and you’re not moving forward in your own life.
But if you decide to go into this process, believe me, the outcome will be worth it. It will probably not be easy at first. It will take a lot of energy to get that box out of the basement, open the padlock on it, open it up and start reviewing the contents. However, as you progress with sorting, you will feel your spirit getting lighter. You will be steadily freeing yourself of the burdens that have been weighing you down in the background. And so, you will find it easier and easier to welcome the change and transformation of your life into a positive direction.
Lifestyle change, as the above and the previous parts of this article series should now make abundantly clear, is a complex issue. It is worth working on all the physical, mental and emotional dimensions. There is no one without the other. And neither without the third.
If you really want to change and grow in your whole life, you need to do it in a complex way. While it may seem like a big task all at once, trust that one change will bring the other, one after the other.
Keep the dimensions in mind, think them through in your own life. Where are you most lacking? Make a plan for yourself of what you will do to improve which dimension, when and how. Plan and stick to the plan. And in the process, enjoy the taste of progress and remember to celebrate the milestones and be proud of yourself for what you have achieved!