Who recognises this pattern of behaviour in themselves: START (with all the best intentions), STALL (slowly or suddenly), and STOP (game over – again!).
And who wishes they didn’t repeat this pattern over and over again?
Isn’t it the worst? It’s so frustrating, and it makes us feel so down on ourselves, like we’re stuck in an endless loop of SSS and it sucks.
Let’s see if identifying what drives this pattern can help us drive it out of our lives. Are you ready?
A Self Sabotaging Pattern
Here’s a common three-step scenario I see a lot:
“I want to lose weight/get fit so I’m joining 12WBT. I know what I need to do, I will just follow the plans, I will do the work, I will reach my goals – I am committed!”
“I know what I need to do but I just can’t do it. I’m too busy, my family is sabotaging me, I’m injured. I feel angry, upset, depressed, ashamed.”
“I give up, I’m not doing this because I can’t. Now I feel even more angry, upset, depressed and ashamed because I’ve done what I always do.”
Also read: How to Train Your Inner Voice
Why Do These Patterns Occur?
What makes so many people see this same pattern so often within themselves? In my experience, people have two shame gremlins sitting on their shoulders, “Not Good Enough” and “Who Do You Think You Are?”. These gremlins are horrible and hurtful and people try to protect themselves with armour. One of those shields is perfectionism. The belief is that if we do, be and act perfectly, the shame gremlins can’t shout “I told you you weren’t good enough!”
But perfectionism isn’t possible – people are imperfect, so at some point in time, the perfectionism shield is pierced (this is the STALL) and shame gremlin goes “Ha ha! I told you so. Who did you think you were, that you’d really reach your goals?” It’s so shaming and hurtful and horrible that we run away (this is the STOP).
The Shame Cycle
We often we engage in behaviours that in fact make that feeling of shame worse – we binge eat for example. We binge eat to try and numb out the pain of the shame and horribleness. And that leads to more feelings of shame – now we feel shame for that behaviour on top of the shame of stopping and the shame of being imperfect and not good enough!
The Three Rs to Stopping the Shame Cycle
In order to conquer the shame gremlins and start again after a stall we need to:
1. Reality Check
Acknowledge that perfect isn’t possible, that there will be times in our 12WBT journey where things will be imperfect. That’s life!
Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that we are good enough as the imperfect, fallible human beings that we are. Mantra: “Everyone is doing the best they can, including me”.
Recommit and keep on truckin’!
So if you’re starting your 12WBT journey for the first time or the fifteenth and you’re worried about slipping into this cycle, remember – stalls are going to happen, they are a fact of life. A stall doesn’t have to become a stop, it can be a start again. You are doing the best you can, you’re imperfect and that’s always always good enough. So when the stall comes, practise the 3 Rs and you’ll break the cycle!