Controlling Your “Inner” Environment

9 05 2011

Creating an environment that sets you up for success is an important part of the weight loss and weight maintenance process. Purchasing healthy options and keeping junk foods out of the house are two ways that you might control the environment around you in order to stay on track with your weight loss goals. However, as important as controlling the external environment is, sometimes we neglect to monitor something just as important: our inner environment.

What is our inner environment? It is the non-stop self-talk that goes on inside our heads throughout the day. The inner environment is largely determined by your thoughts and what you tell yourself, which shapes your feelings, attitude and behavior.
Here are just a few of the common negative thinking patterns that create a negative inner environment and interfere with weight loss success:

1. Polarized Thinking: Also known as “Black/White” and “All or None” thinking. Either you did perfect with your eating for the day or you failed; you give 100% or you don’t give anything. Polarized thinking is detrimental because it ignores the many potential successes that can be achieved in-between perfection and failure. As well, polarized thinking often sets you up for failure – no one can be perfect or give 100% all the time, which can lead to discouragement, frustration, and drop out.

2. “Should” Thinking: The word “should” implies judgment and criticism – about yourself, others, or the world in general. “I should have lost more weight by now” or “I should have worked harder” are not useful thoughts, as they ignore reality and prompt negative feelings. Maybe you would have liked to lose more weight by now, but you didn’t. How is it helpful to tell yourself you should have lost more, rather than allow yourself to celebrate the successes you have achieved? We can’t change anything about the past, but we can resolve to do things differently right now (see my previous blog post “Living for Today.”).

3. Overgeneralization and Labeling: When one single event or occurrence falsely defines every future event or occurrence. For example, if you mess up one time, it means you always mess up. This generalization then often leads to a label – “I always mess up, I am such a loser.” This thinking style can also create what is called a “self-fulfilling prophecy:” I believe that I cannot be successful at weight loss, so I put less effort in; I don’t lose weight, which then reinforces my belief that I can’t do it. A vicious cycle!
Too often we neglect the fact that WE ARE IN CONTROL of our thinking and reactions to events and other people – are you aware of your inner environment and its relationship to your weight loss progress? If any of these negative thinking patterns sounds familiar, talk to your Health Behavior Counselor about strategies to help change your thoughts and maintain a positive and healthy inner environment. Like weight loss itself, it’s hard to change our thoughts, but it’s worth it – and we’ll help you get there!




One response

9 05 2011

Thanks — very meaningful blog!

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