What will I gain, if I do this? Do I value that more than where I am right now? This is the inherent question faced by many of us as we attempt to shift our behaviours. 'Trying and failing' is the ultimate self-sabotage. We hand our power (and responsibility for it) to the external world and say, "oh well, I'll try harder next time". Bullshit. No you won't. Not unless your value shifts before you create next time.
Everything is within our power. Everything is a choice. If there was a gun to your head, and you valued your self and your life, you would choose not to eat that chocolate, pour the next glass of wine, skip your next gym session. You would CHOOSE you. And it would be easy.
So why do we find it so hard? Well, there are a few reasons. Firstly, insight. In-sight. The practice of seeing into yourself. Most of us are confronted by the idea that we don't value ourselves. We turn away from the uncomfortable in favour of focusing on our strengths, creating glossy, insta-worthy moments to share for reinforcement and validation. We live in a world where failures and shortcomings are sugar-coated and we consume positive reinforcement as if it's a food group. The problem with this approach, is that it's not real. The yucky parts exist. They're not made up. We just choose not to see them and in doing so we miss the whole picture. Acceptance of the full-self, warts and all, is the first step in mastering your change.
Once you're ready to see, it's time to evaluate OBJECTIVELY. What do you see? What is serving you well and what is not? Is that repeating pattern of succumbing to jealousy and raiding your partners phone really working for you? How do you feel about yourself when you do it? What about the way you constantly berate yourself about the unused gym membership or the over-used credit card? Are you sick of having the same conversation with yourself over, and over, and over again? Yes? Great! Why don't you stop then? And this is where it gets tricky......
You don't stop because you don't believe you can. You don't really believe you have the capacity, the will or the worth. And so you don't. Then you prove yourself right, affirm the belief and keep on plodding with your "try better next time" approach.
Enter the Value Proposition. The 'value proposition' is used in business strategy to clearly define the worth of a business. It reflects the exchange of a cost for a benefit, and is inherent only to the individual. For if we stood on opposite sides of the same transaction as giver and receiver, the value each of us derives from the same activity is different, and determined solely by each of us.
Whenever we are considering a personal change, we must understand the value proposition - what do we get from the effort, and do we value that enough to actually do it? Let's use reducing alcohol consumption as an example. For a couple of years I wanted to reduce my alcohol consumption. I would regularly have a couple of glasses of wine every night, and I was sick of it. Everyday I would tell myself that night I would either not have any or only have one, and every night, I would fail to meet that commitment to myself. In the beginning I focused on all the external reasons like weight gain and toxicity. But it was never enough to shift my behaviour. Over time my motivation shifted. I was sick of the constant self-criticism and failure, and I was sick of the hold that the issue had on my psyche. I was thinking about it way too much. In the end I raised it with my coach, who had a surprisingly unconcerned response, "oh, it's about value. When you value something more than the wine, you'll stop".
Ha. Right. So freaking true.
Up till that point I had been talking about all the reasons why I should stop, but I didn't actually believe them to be true. I didn't actually VALUE them. I didn't value my body, so I really didn't care if I wasn't treating it well. I didn't value myself, so I didn't really think that I was worth doing the right thing by, or keeping my commitments for. And in that moment it became so clear. No-one else could value me, for me. My value has to come from within, defined by me, and exercised by me into creation.
Like a muscle, value is something you create with repeated action that sends visceral experiences to your body and mind, of value. When you make a commitment to yourself and you KEEP it, you FEEL value. When you consistently create experiences of value, you create a pattern, a habit, a neural pathway, a BELIEF in your value. It becomes your default position, and as such you become really attuned to what makes you feel valued, versus what doesn't.
So if you're finding it hard to shift a behaviour, take a good look. Do you really feel that you can do it? Do you really feel like you're worth it? And if the answer is no, well here's a bonus, that's ok. It's ok and it's good to know. Why? Because you can't deal with something you don't know about. You can't work with the reasons, or process the issues and pain to heal, if you don't acknowledge them. So it's ok. Stop, take a breather. Do the work on you first, and the rest will follow.
Behavioural change is not easy, it's hard work. But it is really simple. Action leads to a felt experience. Repeat those actions to build new behaviours and create new patterns. Use every tool in the box to help you do that. Essential oils are amazing for interrupting patterns because they have such an instant emotional effect. You can chemically hijack your body's emotional response, to change the behavioural outcome. Get a crew to cheer you on from the side-lines, whether it's family, a friend or a coach who can give support, clarity and empowerment for when the emotions suck. And keep taking action. No action is too small or insignificant, they all count because they all add to your Value Proposition. Lo and behold, before you know it you've built enough experiences, to feel the courage, joy or mastery that you were aiming for, and now you have something to value. You.