Let me be straight up with y’all here: I’m overweight. Not just overweight, but obese. I’m barely 5’1″ and I weight almost 170 pounds. I’m down 10 pounds from 2 months ago and am pretty dang proud of myself, but still have 15 more until I hit “overweight” and 40 to get to “normal”. I’ve tried a bajillion times to lose weight before, and it never stuck. As I’ve become more emotionally healthy over the last few years, I’ve realized there are three keys that I have needed to understand in order to be successful.
For starters, it’s important that you guys know that I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, aka LDS, aka Mormon. This is important because my first key is faith-based. (Not a person of faith? Skip to keys 2 and 3. They should be posted within the next couple weeks.)
I believe that there really is an adversary, a devil, Satan, Lucifer, or whatever it is you want to call him. He wants us to be miserable. He’ll tempt us to do things that he claims will make us happy but really won’t. He’ll tell us things like, “A handful of chocolate chips isn’t going to make that big of a difference”, and “It’s okay if you sleep in today. You can get up and work out tomorrow.” He can be very discouraging. “You know you’re weak. You know you’re going to give in. Why bother fighting? You’ll never be able to do it”
You know that old image of an angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other? Yep; that’s a real thing. I feel it on a daily basis. Maurice Harker, CMHC, Lead Therapist and Director of Life Changing Services, an LDS based therapy group in Utah that specializes in overcoming addiction, supporting the spouses of addicts, and learning self-mastery, says there isn’t really such thing as negative self-talk. Those negative thoughts in our head are the adversary trying to get us to choose poorly. (I just thought that in the voice of the Templar Knight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade…. “You have chosen… poorly.”) Once we know how that those negative thoughts in our head aren’t because we’re weak, but because a real entity is trying to affect our behavior, it takes overcoming to a whole new level.
An Ensign article (the Ensign is an LDS magazine) titled “The War Goes On” by Elder Larry R. Lawrence talks about this exact thing. He shares a story of President Heber J. Grant, who, when confronted with temptation, said alound, “Mr. Devil, shut up.” My preferred phrase is, “Dude, Satan, get the f out.” (And I do say “f” instead of the swear word, because I’m a good Mormon girl and don’t swear.) So if you find yourself discouraged because your brain keeps sabotaging you, take a different approach. Recognize that it’s the adversary trying to take you down and fight him. Tell him to shut up. Tell him you’re not going to let him win.
Right now, as I type, I have this going on in my head. “Kids aren’t here. Pop popcorn.” “No, I’m done eating for the day. I don’t need popcorn.” “But popcorn is free on your diet plan. Have some.” “Yes, popcorn is free, but the butter and oil aren’t.” “That’s okay, a little extra for the day won’t hurt.” “But I’m not hungry.” “But you don’t need to be hungry for popcorn. You can eat it whenever.” Folks, this is a brutal battle in my head All over a little popcorn. Guess it’s time to tell the adversary to get the f out and focus on my blogging.
This video by Maurice Harker has awesome information about how to overcome the bonds of the adversary. It’s titled, “How do good, smart people slip into pornography addictions.” But it’s not just about pornography. Do what he says at about 5:30 and pick your one things that you’re trying to overcome and listen with that one thing in mind. You can see his “Breaking the Chains” series for an uncut version.
So the first key to changing habits is to learn to be aware of the adversary and his effect on you. When you feel that negative talk coming into your head, walk away. Do what you know to be right; what will make you happy in the long run.
What habits are you trying to change? In which ways does the adversary speak to you to discourage you?