There is a particular point in the weight loss journeys of my patients that fascinates me the most. Given it is almost universal, I’m surprised at how little is written about it. It is the point at which, as if a switch is thrown, weight loss morphs into weight regain. There is something very powerful happening here. I believe this problem sits, to some degree, behind almost every patient where weight regain is a big part of their story.
What’s going on? In simple terms:
It is driven by the mindset you bring to the weight loss challenge.
What’s your mindset? It’s a collection of powerful beliefs that determine how you deal with the obstacles that arise as you try to change. (In NLP they call them ‘limiting beliefs’, but I think this label misses the fullness of their power). These beliefs exist for a purpose, an important purpose – to protect you – but from what?
To help you see how this works, in a recorded session with one of my patients, we recently captured this force at work in all its glory. (I’ve made this available on my other website, you will find the link below.)
If you don’t appreciate the powerful way your unconscious mind controls you – it will always win – hands down!
We all think that losing weight (or exercising more, or drinking less alcohol) is a good thing, right? Well it is to our conscious mind. This part of our mind is logical and rational and … how should I say it … well … hopelessly, embarrassingly weak. How many times have you planned to eat less, only to not eat less, but eat way more … planned to avoid the dessert, only to eat yours and half your friend’s?
Well if you’re anything like I was, you might be rather skilled at it! To make sense of what is going on we need to appreciate, not just the role of our unconscious mind, but it’s far superior power compared to our conscious mind. It’s the muscly Adonis that kicks sand in the face of our very rational, but very puny, conscious mind. You see, your unconscious uses an enormously powerful weapon: emotion. When emotion is up against logic, it’s like bringing a knife to a fight with a battlestar that uses nuclear warheads as the first line of attack!
And of all the emotions, the fear of change i.e. the need for safety, is first and foremost in your unconscious mind. So, protective beliefs are powerful forces that are misguided attempts to keep us safe. In their simplest form they do this by keeping things the same – because you’re safe right now aren’t you? If only your unconscious did not live in the moment and could look into the future, and see all the problems that will come with obesity – but it doesn’t and it can’t.
Protective Beliefs try to keep us safe
For my ‘crash course’ on Mindset and Motivation, I had to formalise my clinical experience around this and came up with two groups of protective beliefs .
1. Unworthiness-Based Beliefs e.g. ‘I don’t deserve it’, ‘I’m not exceptional enough to succeed’, ‘being “big” isn’t actually that bad’, and
2. Fear-Based Beliefs e.g. Fear of the change that goes with success (e.g. unwanted attention)
Your link to an ‘Eavesdropping on Therapy’ session
A number of my more articulate and emotionally intelligent patients have generously consented to me recording some of our sessions for posterity (as MP3 audio files with identifying details edited out). In effect, you can ‘eavesdrop on therapy’. If you log into my other site, you can listen to one of the sessions where one of my patients talks about the impact of her core protective belief which flipped her from losing weight to regaining it. Sorry, but you will need to Register (to what we call Level 1 – it’s completely free) because it is a different site – just click here – it takes only a minute. Although you have the option of subscribing to one of my programs, I have no problem at all if you just want to listen to the session and skip off, because it is such a wonderful example of how all this works.
Be on the look out for Protective Beliefs, they’re fascinating, tricky and powerful, animals!