"Why Not?" - Identifying the emotional reason you aren't reaching your goal

The emotional reason you aren’t reaching your goal.

I start most health coaching conversations with the same advice - start by “finding your why”. By this, I mean what is the deep emotional reason you are trying to make healthy changes? Digging deeper than “getting ready for a vacation or a wedding” and landing on something more meaningful, such as how you want to feel about yourself or what emotions you hope to feel in the future about your body and your health. This can be powerful, if you really get to the true “why” for your wellness journey.

But what I’ve noticed in supporting people in their quest to feel better is that finding “why” isn’t enough. You also have to clearly identify your “why not” while you’re at it.

What I mean by “why not” is this. What is that one thing (or at least the most powerful thing) in your life that is sabotaging your success? The one thing that can trump even the most powerful why? The main reason for past efforts never quite working out. The reason you quit. The obstacle that just won’t budge. The thorn in your side. The door you just can’t open.

It's true that our wellness journey is never easy. If it was no one would need support and it wouldn't really be a journey. It would simply happen. The reality is that it's much easier for most of us to come up with reasons to stop than inspirations to start. Our best intentions can easily be derailed by the simple busyness that has become a way of life. But if we get honest with ourselves, those are all just excuses. The truth of why we haven't been successful in the past runs deeper than that. Of course, it’s hard. Of course, we’re all busy. But if we’re being completely honest, we make time for the things that are important to us and we’ve found a way to make time for things that are a lot less important than our health goals. If we can find time for these other things... Why not wellness? Why…NOT?

I can’t answer this question for you, but I know how important it is that you answer it yourself. Whether you are gearing up to recommit to clean eating, about to begin a fitness program, trying to quit smoking, wishing you could enhance your immune system or attempting to boost your energy levels, spend some time on this question. What’s holding you back? What’s kept you from success in the past? The answer is rarely the obvious reason that popped into your head when you read that sentence.

Maybe it’s people pleasing. Are you making everyone else and everything else a priority in your day? Do you feel guilty if you schedule time for yourself and protect that time? Are there things you’ve committed to that you hate doing, but you do them to please someone else? Where can you clear some time in your schedule for you? It's ok. In fact, it's necessary. It doesn't make you selfish. It makes you you human. We all need time to care for ourselves.

Maybe it’s a relationship. Is there a person in your life that doesn’t want you to thrive because it would make him or her feel bad about themselves? Is someone acting as a negative influence because they want company in their poor lifestyle choices? You know, that friend that’s always giving you a hard time about working out or ordering healthy at a restaurant. The one that wants you to cheat with them not once in awhile, but every single day. Research has shown that if the people closest to you have health issues, it’s more likely that you will have health issues. Scary, right! We become like the people we spend the most time with. Choose to be the positive influence. Your friends and family will thank you for it – eventually.

Maybe it’s a lack of knowledge. There’s a ton of competing information out there about what’s right and what’s wrong. For every truth about food and fitness and holistic health there’s marketing spin and noise for you to filter out. It could be that you simply don’t have the proper facts, and that you’ve been unknowingly preventing yourself from moving forward by listening to bad advice - or advice that allows you to justify bad choices.

Maybe there is unresolved trauma from your past. Many people struggle to have success with weight loss and other healthy goals because of emotional scars. If there is a specific trauma or past hurt in your life that you haven’t addressed, it could very well be the “why not” of your wellness journey. It's ok to ask for help. I work with a counselor myself. No one's life is all rainbows and roses and getting help to work through hurt is one of the bravest things you can do.

Maybe there’s a lie you are telling yourself. A limiting self-belief about what you are capable of, or what you deserve. Do you believe in yourself? Do you believe you are worth it? Do you believe that it is not selfish of you to take time for your health, even if that means you can’t do something for someone else? Have you let a lie someone spoke over you years ago become your truth, your day to day reality? It's time to speak truth to yourself. Ask a close friend you can trust to help you with this. Who do they see? What do they believe you are capable of? Start journaling about who you'd like to be. You are likely to discover that person has actually been there all along. You just couldn't see her through the stories you were telling yourself and the lies that have been spoke over you. The best way to shut down those negative self-image is to start focusing on more positive one every day. Write them on your mirror. Stick post it notes in your wallet, on your dashboard and next to your alarm clock. Start and end your day by speaking positive truths over yourself.

So, what are you going to do differently? Once you know your “why not” you need to set a plan for removing it from the equation, or at least limiting it’s impact on your journey. Sometimes, just knowing what’s holding you back steals some of its power. I still encourage you to stay squarely focused on your “why” because that’s where your true motivation lies. Identifying your “why not” will prevent you from unknowingly sabotaging your best efforts.  

Write down 5 reasons your health is worth the effort and 5 wonderful truths about why you are worth the effort. If you struggle with this exercise, ask someone who cares about you to talk it out with you.  Can you believe the truths they speak over you? If not, that’s where you need to begin examining deeper and looking for your “why not”. 

Do you need help making your health goals a reality? I'd love to talk with you.

Be sure to check out the blog next week. We’ll be talking more about the danger of limiting self beliefs and what you can do to identify and overcome them.