Renee is a favorite client of mine. When you meet her, you notice her intelligent eyes, great sense of humor, and her commitment to excellence. She is retired but is busier now than ever, with church activities, charity work, and a part time job.
She is what some would call a “mover and a shaker”. In short, she is the type of person that gets things done.
Except when it comes to herself.
Specifically, she has trouble taking time to care of her body.
She tells me this is because she doesn’t have time. I don’t want to call her a liar, but I know this isn’t strictly true.
I know it’s not true because she fits in all the “fun” things like getting a massage or a facial, and has plenty of time to go out to lunch or dinner with friends. But she just can’t seem to find time to pay attention to her shoulder and neck.
“I don’t have time” is the most common excuse/reason/justification I hear from my clients for not being able to take care of themselves, either physically or emotionally.
And while I know all of our lives are very busy, what I have observed is that my clients almost always have time for the the things they want to do or believe they can do.
Renee can’t find the time because she likely has 2 secret fears that a lot of the rest of us have, too. They are:
- Fear of Being Old
- Fear of Failure
Most of the time the fears we have create limiting beliefs that keep us stuck in a pattern of reaction or inaction. In order to change our behavior, we have to let go of our limiting beliefs.
I have found several strategies that are helpful to my clients in conquering these fears and limiting beliefs. Here they are:
1. Fear of Being Old
The Belief: I’m afraid that by paying attention to my body, it will start controlling or dominating my life, and that will mean I’m old.
Antidote: Examine the opposite possibility using an “I wonder if…” statement.
One opposite in this situation would be: “I wonder if I paid attention to my body, I would actually start to feel better, and by feeling better, I would feel younger.”
When we spend too much time focusing on what we don’t want, our fear will guide our actions in a way that leads us to the exact outcome we didn’t want. It’s kind of like our “fear destination” gets entered into our internal GPS, and our thoughts and actions lead us there without us even knowing it. For example, my clients often fear getting weaker and looking frail. So they continue to lift weights at the gym, even though it hurts their joints. But by continuing to lift weights when their joints are stiff and achy, they get MUCH weaker than if they were more moderate with their exercise.
The way an “I wonder if…” statement helps is that it allows us to try out another thought without the pressure of committing to it. Paying attention to how you feel inside when you try out the new thought is the key to figuring out if that new thought is better for you than the old one.
When you try out this new possibility, do an internal scan of your body from head to toe. Fearful, negative or limiting beliefs will almost always make our bodies feel tighter and more constricted in some area (often the throat or stomach). Positive, hopeful beliefs will make your body feel lighter and freer on the inside.
This exercise works best when you say each thought out loud, then give yourself about 30 seconds or so to pay attention to how your body reacts. If the first statement doesn’t work, try another.
2. Fear of Failure
The Belief: If I try to make my body stronger and it doesn’t work, then I will be a failure.
Antidote: Give yourself permission to be like an inventor who is working on a new product.
Inventors often have to try lots of different combinations of things on their way to perfecting their product. Thomas Edison famously said about his work to find a workable filament for the lightbulb, ”I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 things that won’t work.”
I find that for my clients the fear of failure is often disguised as a belief that getting older means you get weaker, stiffer, and have aches and pains that don’t go away.
As a result, many of my clients show up at our first session and say something like, “Am I just being unreasonable that I want to be able to hike without pain? Should I just accept the fact that I’m old?”
Letting go of the label of “failure” allows us to try options that are sometimes unusual or different from how we have always done things. And trying those new things can often yield positive results. The more possibilities you have, the more likely you are to find one that works.
In my work as a wellness and life coach, I have found that the fear of being old and a fear of failure often gets in the way of my clients’ progress toward making their bodies (and their lives) better. Opening yourself up to new possibilities by letting go of self-limiting beliefs and giving yourself permission to try new things can often jump start progress toward feeling better physically and emotionally.
PS- I currently have 2 open slots in my coaching practice. If you know someone who has been struggling to get stronger and is ready to commit to something new, please have them email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a free 30 minute strategy session!