Why don't we do what's good for us?
Parinaz Shams| Founder of Embrace Your Essence | Spiritual Life Coach & Mentor
You know you want to feel good in your body.
You probably have a clear vision of what you want to look like and feel like, right?
You’ve also probably invested a lot of time, energy, and money into researching the perfect diet program, exercise coach, and/or list of supplements to help you get there, right?
>>The peloton bike.
>>The functional nutritionist program.
>>The yoga app subscription.
But you don’t show up for them. You don’t start the plan. Or you start quickly and then fall off quicker, right?
With each day that passes where the beautifully laid plan doesn’t get executed by you, you doubt yourself more...“What’s wrong with me?”
And you come down on yourself: “You’re so lazy! Just get on with it already.”
And then you get into a fight with yourself in your head:
“Tomorrow I’ll start for sure”
“No, you won’t. You suck.”
“Hey, be nice! I’ve got a lot on my plate, I’m doing other stuff!”
“I’d be nice if you didn’t suck.”
Sound like you, inside your mind at all?
By the way, it's important to note that this same pattern can play out in any area of life (relationships, finances) but I’m going to focus on the angle of physical well-being and self-care for now because it’s one a lot of people bring up to me as a spiritual life mentor and coach.
You can extrapolate the ideas and apply it to the area(s) of your life that feel like they are not currently getting the consistent attention from you that they require.
So if this is you, please know that you’re not alone.
I know these things are likely true for you because they were for me as well for soooo long.
I’ve always cared about my health and fitness. Blessed with a relatively healthy body that is able to do most physical things, I always felt like it was just a matter of willpower to get it done. To put my body through the necessary motions to keep it fit, strong, and healthy.
I mean, we all know that a healthy body means a healthy mind and that all translates to a healthy life, right?
Yeah, right. But if it’s that simple, then WHY is it so hard to show up for it consistently?
Here are 2 of the most common reasons that it is so hard for us to stay committed to the changes we want to make.
1. Change & self-care that lead to a healthy lifestyle is not merely a function of willpower.
You cannot rely solely on your mental toughness, mental planning, and the mental image of your goal body to get you there. It won’t work. It will get you there for a week, two, maybe a month. But then you’ll peter out. It will give you inspiration, but it won't help you actually get up and do the thing.
Why not? Because real change comes from within your Complete Self. That means it comes not only from the mind but also from the body and the energy.
2. Your body remembers what the mind has forgotten.
This is a HUGE one that nobody talks about and is an extremely underrated reason for your best-laid plans not working out. Even though you’ve decided you want to change your relationship with your body, there is still an energetic blueprint, a carbon copy receipt held in your body’s nervous system of earlier experiences in life where you felt completely unworthy, unloved, not chosen, and not met in all your needs by someone/people who really mattered to you.
If you’re asking yourself, is she talking about childhood trauma? The answer is yes.
You might be saying, "Ok, well, I don’t want to go there."
Fair. Most people don’t. You already lived it once and there's a fear of having to go through it again when you look at it, right?
Well, if you don’t ever go back and look at it, you’ll pay the price of staying exactly where you are.
2 years from now, you’ll still be trying to get started on the next program you paid for to get you in shape. You’ll be at the next gym, going to the next PT for your pain and signs of early aging. Do you want that? Is that worth it to you?
If your inner self just said “No, I don’t want that” and “No, that’s not a price worth paying” that is why you would go in and look at your childhood trauma….
Now let me clarify what I mean by trauma. I don’t mean just gory traumatic events like full-on neglect or abuse. I also mean those of you who had a relatively stable family dynamic, but your needs weren't met.
For example, your dad was an alcoholic so you couldn’t rely on him. Instead, you had to be hyper-vigilant to sense if it was safe for him to be driving, if he’d fall asleep with the stove on. You’d have to be on the lookout as a kid rather than getting your needs met by that father figure as a kid (Which is supposed to happen).
Maybe you had an extremely demanding and ‘tough love’ mother. You had to be ten steps ahead all the time, prim, proper, get your chores done before being asked, otherwise, you’d pay the price. You had to expend your energy being perfect rather than being a kid.
These early life experiences are your conditioned beliefs about who you are, and how worthy you are, and they become the silent movie script playing out in your psyche dictating your actions, thoughts, and words each day as an adult.
Conditioning has created the following behaviors in you:
The need to be perfect stops you from getting started on things because you're analyzing the best way to do it
The need to be in control stops you from starting something new and different
The need to prove that you’re good enough so you don’t allow yourself to just jump in and experiment because you don’t want to be seen as a failure.
"Every child needs one adult who is irrationally crazy about him or her." - Urie Bronfenbrenner
I’m convinced that so many of us are not doing the things we know are good for us because we are terrified to do something we’re not already good at.
And yes, this DOES happen even if you haven't spoken to your parents in 15 years.
Yes, this still happens if you are independent and never ask your parents for advice anymore.
Yes, it still happens if you tell yourself every day “yeah, but they tried their best.”
The reason for this is because you were a young kid when these things went down who had to learn how to survive rather than receive love, nurturing and care.
Therefore, as an adult you are still dealing with the part of yourself that lived through that, and struggles to allow yourself to be nurtured, cared for, and consistently have your needs met.
Because you literally did not learn that in your most fundamental formative years.
How would you know how to do something well that your own caregivers didn’t do for you?
Instead, you’re probably a lot more practiced at talking to yourself and treating yourself like they treated you.
Not their number 1 priority.
Not good enough for their full attention, care, and presence.
Harsh, aggressive, and undeserving of praise.
I literally had a client say this to me.
In reference to her alcoholic father, she said: “I didn't realize until this conversation that I still am harboring the pain that he chose drinking over us. I realize now that I would say to myself then ‘Are we that bad that you can’t be around us?’”
And she has spent the last 30+ years wondering why she struggles to care for and nourish her physical self consistently…read more about this here (new blog on food and feeling forgettable).
Now I know some of you are saying, “Oh no, not me. My parents were great. Sure, imperfect, but I could never say anything bad about them, they did their best!”
If that’s you, it’s time to stop running to your parents’ defense.
It’s admirable that you respect and love them to the point of wanting to defend their reasons for letting you down as a child.
But here’s the deal. Your parents were your caregivers. They chose to take on that role. It is their responsibility, and it is completely ok to acknowledge (really acknowledge) the ways they let you down. Disappointed you. Didn’t see you. Instilled in your feelings of shame, guilt, and unnecessary obligation to appease and impress them.
It doesn’t make you selfish, a whiner, or a bad adult child who’s ungrateful. It makes you emotionally mature and honest because you can look at what is real, sit with it, rather than try to run and erase it or hide it.
It’s when you actually allow yourself to see the ways that you were let down that you create space for authentic acceptance, compassion, and healing for yourself and them.
You see what I’m saying?
A lot of you have been putting the cart before the horse so to speak, trying to rush to forgiving your parents and being the bigger person when you’ve had to be the bigger person your entire life. What you actually need is to be acknowledged and loved.
Do that for yourself….
That is why you struggle to do what you know you should.
So, how do we rewire this?
Well, first step you’ve already done. You’re researching solutions to this problem, which is how you found this blog. That’s a MASSIVELY important step, so thank yourself for caring enough about yourself to do that.
Second, you have to address your energy and your nervous system.
You have to clear out that old conditioning and get rid of the carbon copy receipt that you actually suck and don’t deserve that much attention, care, and love.