So, you might be wondering what I mean by the title. There’s actually a lot of routes I could go with explaining what it means. At EPIC Functional Medicine, the main context in which we might say this is in regard to “I’ll have XYZ symptoms forever.” We like to challenge that belief and strive for a solution to seeing that health concerns improve for the better.
But today, I want to look at the word “forever” from a mindset standpoint. One of the underlying belief systems many of us have is that we look at our current situation, and we tend to extrapolate our ability to get through that situation waaaay into the future (i.e. forever). So, we get overwhelmed before we can even begin.
This can be expressed in many situations. Here are some examples:
- I could never give up dairy (I don’t think I could do that forever)
- 1 week into this detox thing is hard (It will be hard forever)
- My body needs to pee all the time drinking all this extra water than I’m used to drinking (I think my body will always feel this way to this level of hydration forever)
- I have figured out what works for me in regard to exercise routines (My routine/schedule will remain this way forever because this is working, why change it?)
Essentially – we create these ultimatums in our subconscious that get in our way with the belief we can move forward in changes to our health and lifestyle. We assume that the present version of our Self will be the same as our future Self. We deny the reality that we are dynamic beings capable of change and adaptation – an incredible advantage and aspect we have!
Think about this – what is something about who you are today that you are proud of that you would just laugh or say, “no way!” if you told your younger Self about it?
So – with whatever that thing was that you thought about – I am guessing there was no way you’d know how it all would play out, or what you’d do to get there, but you got there all the same.
So let’s give ourselves that chance when it comes to things like changing our diet, our hydration, our exercise, setting good boundaries for our stress, etc. Take things day by day or week by week. For starters – one thing that can help me with avoiding thoughts of “how will I keep on with this in the future?” is to think of my current goal/plan as an “experiment.” Perhaps it’ll be temporary, perhaps not. I’ll just try it and see what happens.
For example, with one of the statements earlier of “I could never give up dairy.” Many clients I’ve chatted with will have hesitancy with making this change in their life. But they want to feel better and we encourage them on a “21-day detox” (which, it’s not a detox, it’s just implementing lifestyle changes) but we encourage the initial thought of just 21 days (less overwhelming than “do this forever!”). Then, the person happens to have dairy sometime after 3-4 weeks not having any, and they reflect, “Oh wow my body did NOT like that at all. I felt terrible. I don’t’ want to do that again” Well, this version of themselves is much more willing and desiring to avoid dairy than their 3-4 week past Self, right?
I think of myself as a father. I was not ready to be a father (I think all us parents never feel like we were ready, right?) but I will admit it’s been going a lot better than I thought it would 2 years ago before I became one. There’s no way I could know until just seeing how it played out. I have changed in what I prioritize with my time, how I am mentally able to cope with my life as a dad, and so much more. Why? Because who I am today is different than who I was 2 years ago. People can change and grow and we have to factor that in with our beliefs (or lack of belief) in our ability to change our health habits, too.
I have to say this mental perspective of extrapolating things goes in both directions. Sometimes we hit a groove and think we have things figured out. Our exercise routine is going great, work schedule and personal time are in balance, and all that jazz. We can think in our subconscious “we’re all set forever on these aspects of life and health!”. Then, life throws a curveball and you lose your job, or you get an injury and have to change how you do everything in life, etc. Or, gosh, something as simple as the change of season and now it’s baseball season and you have a lot less time due to taking your kids to a zillion games. All those things can be reasons we have to adapt even after things are going well. So we need to be watchful either way.
As I like to remind myself very often is one of my favorite quotes, “The source of all disappointment in life is unmet expectations.” So, if you have things figured out – expect that they’ll change in the future (so you won’t be so dismayed when the time arrives). If you do not have things figured out – expect that you can adapt and change how you approach things, and you’ll get there.
Just something to think about.
To your health and wellbeing,
Lead Health Coach, Dan Tribley
EPIC Functional Medicine