I’ve been having a lot of conversations about inner strength both in coaching sessions and in my day-to-day life. What began as a discussion with one person became a group question, and led to re-watching this talk on and mental strength, commitment and belief. This week, I was reminded of this TED talk by Amy Morin.
Amy Morin outlines unhelpful thinking styles in her talk, and explores how habits have a butterfly effect: tiny choices in thinking can eat away at our mental strength.
I love this idea, as I’m a huge fan of the “positive baby steps add up to great wins” mindset.
She speaks about how, when we experience difficulties, obstacles or, pain; our positive habits may not be enough.
One of the famous quotes about ‘successful people’ is that they limited the number of choices they made each day, such as having the same ‘uniform’ or meal plan each day: this freed up their brains to make important decisions, and not to question avoidable uncertainty.
The same idea can apply for decisions around our habits or personal development choices.
Two Sides of Strength-Training
If you had fitness goals around physical strength, lifting weights or losing weight, there are two sides to any change you make:
– Exercise More.
– Eat Less (Junk) Food.
We all know these two steps are helpful in being healthy. These two ideas are not new, revolutionary or shocking.
Yet following them in the face of pain, or loneliness, of hunger or craving is not easy. We learn more about our brains and how to approach change as time passes, but it’s also crucial to find what works for you.
Once I start something, I struggle to then set barriers: I have always struggled with moderation. So for me, if I want to cut down on chocolate, I would limit the number of days I was allowed to eat chocolate, and limit the amount in the house. I would ration it down, grab alternative sweet snack foods, and log it for accountability.
My friend can just choose to ration herself to X number of chocolate pieces. She can decide, eat that, and put the rest away.
She has a different kind of mental strength than I do.
There are theories, research, & strategies to make change easier.
We can experiment, reflect, & personalise them.
It’s key to work both sides: to remove bad habits while implementing the good.
Yet, that “two-sided” coin ignores the force behind it: our motivation and commitment in the change – what makes any of these changes worth it?
The Missing Piece: Belief
The motivation, or belief that change is even possible, let alone worth all this change, is the part I focus on. Because without that fuel, we won’t go to the gym.
You have to believe you can change it.
Amy gives an example of this with a baby step for a patient over-weight, switching from normal fizzy drink to a diet version.
Once they saw the improvement, however small from a small change, it brings about a new “what if” to our mind. Possibilities open up. “Maybe this could be worth the change.”
Tiny steps really do add up, and its that first step that is so crucial.
This is where I come in.
What would you like to believe could change in your life? What baby steps can you identify, that might move things a smidgen towards the right direction?