Strategies are useful - when they work. But what if they don't work? Is there something wrong with the strategies? Sometimes. But often it's because we started at the wrong end.
Say you want to lose weight. You come up with lots of strategies on how to lose weight. You'll stop eating sweets during the week, start eating more vegetables, eat smaller portions. But you don't follow the strategies and nothing happens. So is it the strategies that are wrong? Usually not.
The reason you are not losing weight is because you are not following the strategies. So the question is why aren't you following the strategies?
We need to turn the tables and realise that strategies come last.
What comes first is what state we are in. Are we happy or sad, ready to take on challenges or exhausted, do we see opportunities or problems, are we energised or tired? It almost goes without saying that if you start with the strategies when you are sad, exhausted, just seeing problems, it will go wrong.
We often think that the strategies should give us more energy, and that's true to some extent. When we can follow the strategies, they will make us have more energy, but if we cannot follow the strategies, we will not have more energy. So we can't start with the strategies, we have to start with our state.
But how do you do it? It's not always easy, but sometimes it can be easier than you think. The brain is easily fooled and you don't have to be happy or energetic, you can start by pretending. It's not about lying to yourself, it's about using a happier voice than you intended, putting on some good music and taking a few dance steps, rushing a short distance to get the blood circulating in your body, saying something nice to someone else or to yourself. When we use our bodies in this way, it tricks our brains into thinking we are happier and more energetic than we just felt.
Of course, it's not enough to do this once and your body is full of joy and energy, but it's about doing it every day, preferably several times a day and in different ways. "Tricking" the body over and over again, until you start to believe and feel that it is real.
Okay, now what? Now I feel I have more energy and joy and I feel ready to start making changes. Can I start my strategies now?
That's one more step before we get to the strategies. And it's about what stories you have about yourself. These are the stories we are rarely aware of, even though we often repeat them over and over again. Let me give you an example. A middle-aged woman I met a few years ago had struggled with her weight all her life and faced with new attempts to lose weight, she was told by her family that she would never succeed. And that was true, wasn't it? Because she never succeeded, if she lost weight she soon gained it back.
If she still has this story, she will never lose weight, even though she has great strategies. She needs to change the story first.
As she started to change her state to a happier and more energetic state, she felt ready. She realized that the story is just a story.
Now it's about creating a new story, one that's better based on what she wants to do. It's not about denying the old story, it's about remaking it so that it serves you better. Maybe build on it with "before, I thought I couldn't lose weight because I always failed. Now I know I can lose weight, I want to eat well for my own sake, I want to give my body the proper energy and nutrition it deserves".
We often have a lot of stories in the baggage and of course need to practice the new stories before they stick, but it is well worth the work. You are the most important person in your life and only you can change yourself.
Now we can get to the strategies! But once we've got this far, we often don't need to put so much effort into them, we know and feel what we want to do. We choose not to buy the sweets at home, we choose to have more vegetables at home. Most importantly, we no longer see it as a sacrifice. But something we want to do. For our own sake.