We’ve all realized at one time or another that we should stop a certain behavior. For some it might be smoking. For others, a change in diet. Perhaps you have a quick temper. We’ve all got stuff that could be better.
And we know it. But knowing what we should do doesn’t always mean we want to or will do it.
When I changed to a plant-strong eating plan, I was highly motivated due to a serious health concern. I was convinced of the benefits I’d experience and excited about them. But there were some foods—even foods I knew were downright harmful—that I was planning to give up that were emotionally harder to part with.
Ice cream. It had been a staple in my diet for over 40 years—and by choice! The thought of eliminating ice cream completely was hard to get my mind around even though I knew it would be better for me and produce the health benefits I wanted.
Fortunately, I learned early on from the folks at Hallelujah Acres that it’s more productive to think replace than eliminate.
There are good reasons for this psychologically and emotionally.
- Your subconscious mind rebels when you say, “You can’t!” It never fails. If you tell yourself, “I can’t have any dessert,” or even worse, “I will never eat dessert again!”, you automatically want it more than you ever did.
Better to simply say, “Not now.” Don’t even pick the fight with your will power. Never is a long time. But to choose to not eat something, do something, say something now is simply a single choice. Just keep making that single choice, over and over.
Shift your focus to what you want, not on what you’re giving up. Zig Ziglar used to say about exercise, “I’m not paying the price—I’m enjoying the benefits!” E.g., replace a food item with a healthier item—one that tastes as good or even better.
Don’t adopt a victim-mentality. I went out to dinner with my son shortly after changing my eating plan. It was a great seafood restaurant and he encouraged me to get the salmon. I reminded him I had shifted to a completely plant-based diet. He exclaimed, “What? You can’t even eat fish?!” I laughed and said, “I can eat anything I want to. I just choose to eat only plants right now.”
You may still be stuck on the thought of a life without ice cream. As hard as it may be for you to think how I could give it up, remember—I didn’t think eliminate. I just replaced. My alternative is frozen fruit sorbet that I make simply and nothing but fruit. It’s so good I’d choose it over ice cream even if I didn’t have my health goals.
The point isn’t about ice cream. It’s about choices and setting ourselves up to win—to stack the deck in our favor whenever we choose to make a change that will be good for us.
There are so many great alternatives to just about anything. You don’t have to feel deprived. Think replace, not eliminate.
Question: How have you stacked the deck in your favor to make a change for the better? Share your answer in the comments below.