There is one thing that I’ve noticed particularly in 2022 that is having a BIG impact on people’s weight, wealth and everything in between.
It’s small but it’s impact is nothing short of HUGE!
Before I tell you what it is, let me give you an example.
Cheryl (NOT an actual person that I know anyway) decides she wants to lose weight. She decides she’s going to cut gluten out of her diet. Fair enough. 6 days go well but then she’s struggling under the pressure at work and things haven’t been going well in her relationship, so on Saturday when she’s out shopping, she caves into a doughnut and then finishes the day off with pizza and wine. Besides, when you’re going to do something, do it properly right?
We’ve all been there. We want to change something in our lives. So we embark on some kind of program. And then something happens.
So what’s the issue here?
Lack of discipline? Also not.
Wrong approach? Maybe but maybe not.
The biggest influencing factor here is…
If there is even such a thing, hopelessness is the antidote to the human spirit.
And it’s rife in 2022.
We’re all tired. We’ve been through Covid. We’ve globally been in some kind of survival mode only to be faced with war in Europe, load shedding in South Africa and political BS in the States and the UK.
It’s been a little much.
So it’s no wonder that on some level we may be left feeling a little hopeless.
The problem is that, unchecked, hopelessness, leads to apathy and lethargy and even when action is taken, can lead to results that just don’t work out.
Hopelessness in action
Hopelessness, by it’s very definition, is the belief that things aren’t going to get better or that you can’t succeed, so why would you take action to change something you didn’t believe could be changed.
EVEN if you take action and it doesn’t work, you’ll be likely to give up or dismiss any advancement made as you look to corroborate the story that it’s bound to fail.
While I have experienced this on a number of levels in my life, the areas of my life I’ve experienced it most are weight/wellness and finances.
For instance, if, in the past I’ve tried to save a specific amount each month but I haven’t been able to, I just end up blowing it all because I figure “what the hell, I didn’t stick to the plan anyway right?”.
It’s kind of like trying to implement a new eating plan but then the minute you don’t stick to the absolutely impossible standards you’ve set for yourself, you just abandon the whole thing entirely.
“You might even think things like, “I’ve tried everything already and nothing works!” But that’s probably a cognitive distortion. You may have tried a few things—or even 10 things—but you likely haven’t tried everything.” (Verywellmind)
If you feel hopeless in a particular situation you may;
- Not take any action to change the situation at all because the outcome is predestined to fail.
- Take action but find every reason that it won’t work and so may even set about to try and prove that theory right
- Abandon all effort when one small thing goes wrong.
- Become secluded and isolated.
- All of the above
When trying to solve our typical life challenges of weight, wealth and wellness, very few of us look to our underlying mindset and the feelings we feel about the possibility of change.
Identifying your mindset and deeper most feelings may be the most important place to start when wanting to take a step in a new direction.
Just be positive does NOT work
“Just be positive” is not going to solve this.
I’ve been out of a job before. At the time I was desperately doing everything possible to find my way back to employment. I also was blessed with a truly amazing circle of support.
One day however a friend of mine said to me “Lisa, just look at everything you have. Be grateful”. I turned to him and said;
If you step in some dog poop in the street, do you think it’s chocolate? No! It’s dog poop and it’s shitty. No amount of thinking will make it chocolate”.
We both suddenly burst out laughing because it was true.
Toxic positivity is NOT the answer to hopelessness.
Life is beautiful and I believe in the beauty of my dreams….. La la unicorns and fairies.
Don’t try to find a life affirmation that seems implausible. Ironically it may only make feeling hopeless worse.
When in a tough situation, I find something this too shall pass, helpful. Or when I want to change an aspect of my life but I don’t believe it can change I stick this up on my fridge; “I believe in my ability to change my life even if I don’t know how” or “one baby step is a big win”.
It’s funny how these little, but plausible sayings help to shift my mindset.
The gap versus the gain
A dude called Dan Sullivan wrote a book called “The Gap and The Gain”.
Basically it’s all about learning to focus on the small wins made versus how far you still want to go.
My friend Jocelyn did this with me years ago when I wanted to get in better shape. She told me;
“Lisa, instead of focusing on cutting out food groups, focus on adding others in. If you eat a salad with a meal, it’s a win. If you put veggies on your pizza, it’s a win.”
In this way, I started to focus on the wins.
Did 20 minutes of exercise but not a half hour? It’s a win!
Saved R50 or $50 but not R500 or $500? It’s a win.
Got a small win at work? It’s still a win.
The more you focus on small steps as big wins, the more your confidence will go up. What will shift is the way your mind focuses on things. The more your mind focuses on steps forward, the less it will be looking to prove to you all the ways it cannot work.
Sometimes minds need to be occupied. They’re a little like 2-year olds. Left with two much time to think, they end up painting the walls in whatever colour takes their fancy.
Some people go “Well isn’t this just being positive?”
But no it isn’t because being falsely positive isn’t based on anything. Focusing on the gap means focusing on actual real-life steps.
Find examples to fuel hope
Sometimes when I watch specific series I end up feeling hopeless about humanity and the state of the world. If I switch to the news, I feel like the world is ending and our beloved mother nature along with it.
Whilst our environment requires our attention, and there are real challenges in the world which do too, the world is not ending. Not today. And whilst we’re here, we can make a difference; no matter how small.
We can make a difference to our own lives and the lives of others. Even if it is just giving someone a hug.
If you look for them, you will find examples every day of people who are the very definition of hope.
Paying off debt is possible. Having a relationship is possible. Getting in shape is possible,
As my friend Nats says “it’s all perfectly rideable”.
Last but not least, REST
I have noticed a very strange correlation between hopelessness and burnout. Being tired will increase your chances of feeling hopeless. They are directly correlated.
Sometimes the mind is quicker than the body. I notice when I’m tired, I often don’t feel tired or sleepy but suddenly my thoughts go for a ball of chalk. The minute I hear the thought “It’s impossible”, I know all I need is a good night’s sleep or a nap on the couch.
Simply having a rest is likely to change your thought patterns and help you pay off a loan or come up with a plan to buy a home or have the energy to start a new fitness programme.
Just be human
This is a hard one for me to accept. Sometimes I just don’t love being human. I like reaching for the stars, not falling.
But sometimes it’s okay to feel hopeless – normal dare I say. It’s a completely natural response to things that happen around us. When feeling hopeless it’s okay to seek external help, it’s okay to cry and it’s definitely okay to rest.
It’s a feeling and like most feelings – it too shall pass.
Love to hear your thoughts. Drop me a line.