Sometimes you just don’t know. Or you feel like you can’t.
What moves you from that, to exploring whether you could? Or to a place of knowing you can, and doing it?
Earlier this week my sister and I were hiking Lookout Mountain in Phoenix, at sunrise. I’m in Arizona in between conferences in the States, and as my family are in Arizona I get the double blessing of being able to work remotely and also fit in time with family too.
And as often happens when my sister and I get together, we got deep real fast, and spent our hike talking about life things and hard things and what we’re wrestling through and encouraging and challenging each other.
I was sharing some of the things I’m learning from my journey to better health, and questions I ask myself now that I’m more than seven months into that journey. One of the questions I’ve been considering is, how do I help people who say they want to change, but you can tell from how they say it that they’re not quite ready yet?
It’s happened a few times recently. I have spoken to people at events, or in a shop I popped into, and we’ve talked about how I cut out sugar and am working on healthier choices and the results in my life because of it.
And I can instantly tell the difference between the person who says they love the sound of it and wish they could do it….and the person who says that’s amazing and they want to do it.
There’s a “that’s amazing you did it, or are doing it, but I don’t think I can” feeling from the person who’s not ready yet.
I can completely empathise with that situation. I’ve been there.
I’ve been in the place of wishing I wasn’t so overweight, discouraged, easily sick, wearied, struggling more than I knew I needed to be. And yet still ordering pizza and takeaway, skipping walks or exercise because i was too tired, feeling depressed every time I tried on clothes and nothing looked good.
And I would say at sometimes, I need to do better. I want to do better. I want to go walking and be healthier and say no and make good choices. I want to lose weight and I need to, for the sake of my life and health and business.
But I didn’t.
I kept making unhealthy choices.
Why didn’t I? What is that moment, that trigger that switches you over from “i want to but i’m not doing anything about it” to “i want to AND i’m doing something about it”?
I don’t actually know. Even now, looking back, I can’t say why I sat in my friend’s living room and told her (for the twentieth time) how weary I was of it and how I wanted to change, and why the outcome of that conversation was different than every time before.
I don’t know what it was, probably because it was a combination of lots of things. It was me realising I’d need to go to a different level of clothes sizes (larger than the largest ‘standard’ sizes). Or standing on the scale and realising I was heavier than I had ever been in my life. Or recognising my age, and how it was only going to get harder and harder, and take longer, to make the changes I wanted to make. Or hearing my friend say, “Well, if you really want things to be different, you’re going to have to do different things” – and actually hearing her instead of nodding and saying yes, yes, you’re right…and then going back to ordering takeaway so I didn’t feel so bad that evening.
But one thing my sister and I discussed on that hike was asking the ‘what if it’s possible’ questions.
When you don’t know, asking, “but what if I did know?”
When you feel like you can’t, asking “but what if I could?”
When it all feels impossible, asking “how might I do this?”
And it’s not only asking those questions: it’s the attitude you have in your spirit when you ask them (or when someone asks them of you).
You can receive that question frustrated, angry, discouraged.
You can say “arghhh i hate that question, that’s so annoying”.
Or you can receive it with hope and interest, saying “That’s a really good question. Answering it will take me to a better place than I’m in right now, and I don’t like this place or this situation or this feeling or this struggle. So I’m going to ask it, and really enter into the answer.”
Again…I don’t know what moves you from a resisting attitude to a welcoming one. I really don’t. It’s usually the combination of a hundred different factors: but one of them is repetition.
Keep asking the questions.
Keep wondering, “but what if I could?”, and keep trying to make that a positive open question (not an attacking or harsh one).
Keep wondering, “how might I approach this?”, and be willing to see multiple options instead of presuming there is only just one.
Keep wondering, “but what if I did know?’, and pay attention to the things that come to mind when you do.