After multiple versions of ‘must lose weight and get fit’ resolutions, in 2013 I finally made a breakthrough – and it feels like it’s here to stay, it will stick. That it took a change of heart, a softening in me, not an increase in willpower, determination or effort, takes my breath away.
We all wrestle with something we would dearly like to change or accomplish, that would make us happier, but despite our honest efforts it evades us.
It was so simple in the end – a change of heart. From keeping my goals to myself – to openly admitting I have a problem that makes me unhappy. Exposing my vulnerability to others, telling people I’m embarrassed by my failures and am at a loss, opened my eyes and I discovered a different, more effective, way to care for my wellbeing…
In January 2013 I once again set out to be physically strong and full of vitality – positive words with the same old intentions of losing weight and getting fitter. Easy to say but hard to do.
In February Cathy Glass’s diary read remarkably like the infamous Bridget Jones’s Diary – Day 1: 2 glasses of wine, 5 fags, 1 Pilates class, bought pedometer, lost 1lb; Day 2: 2 glasses of wine and 2 fags, no gym, drop pedometer in loo, 0lbs lost – you get the picture! I ‘knew’ in my head what to do, but didn’t do it.
But, ‘knowing about’ it isn’t the same as ‘knowing how’ to do it in real life, is it? Oh yes, I ‘know’ how that works, I’ve been to the courses, read the books, listened to the tapes. Told myself to get more willpower, man up, just do it – joined the gym but erratic attendance; had a good coach but didn’t stick to my promises; lost weight but took up smoking; one step forward, one step back…
In March then, talking with a client about how they were trying to achieve new goals using old mindsets, BAM – it hit me – this was me! There was me, trying to solve my problem using the same old tactics over and over… doh. As Einstein famously said ‘to keep doing the same thing and expect different results is madness’.
In April I got lucky – my colleagues at Axialent invited me to be coached in the Immunity to Change process they were trained in, the Kegan and Lahey approach. In a nutshell, I got to explore how our existing logic (and consequent behaviour) works for us, protecting us from our innermost fears, unconsciously sabotaging our best efforts to change.
However much we may want to achieve something different for ourselves, for a happier, more satisfying life, without consciousness of how the old ways worked for us on some level, sooner or later they rear their head and we’re back where we started. And we’re bemused and discouraged by our failure.
I came to see how my inner logic – to stay safe ‘under the radar’ by hiding the bits of me I’m embarrassed or ashamed about – serves me well in some circumstances, but also tampers with my attempts to change. My (until then unconscious) logic was that if people spotted the full extent of my energy and vitality – as they will if I accomplish my goals – then I run the risk of rejection or ridicule. With this insight came the chance to check out what happens when I test the veracity of my own inner logic – is it true…?
So what happened?
In May I began to express to people my desire for greater vitality… started to ‘experiment’, to tell people about my hopes and fears, my successes and my failures. In those moments of exposing my vulnerabilities to others, there was no rejection or ridicule, as I feared.
Miraculously, the very vitality, a connection to life that I was seeking, made its appearance right there, in the conversations. Sharing, laughter, sadness, recognition, belonging…
By December 2013 I was still going, feeling nourished and motivated, I was accomplishing weight loss, getting fitter and happier. Far, far more importantly my newfound sense of vitality and connection spurs me on to do more of what will serve my new goals of wellbeing, and it feels good. I can feel the energy from those moments, it motivates me to do what I want to do, not what I’m used to doing.
It’s not about perfection, it’s about being human. And I feel a damn sight better than ever before. Suddenly my goal is no longer a burden I carry alone, but a rich experience of life… warts and all.
While Axialent integrates this Immunity to Change methodology into our work, my gratitude is that we (especially me!) are applying it in our own lives first. Here’s to being human, together.
PS: Maybe I will have a glass of wine to celebrate writing this blog!
About the author
Cathy leads the UK & Nordic market as well as our Culture Practice, with an eye on continuously developing and improving our approach to culture transformation journeys. She has a passion for pulling the right levers for change, identifying what a company can do to shift to a higher-performing culture. Read more >