Results tell us if what we have done is what we should have done. If you have achieved the result you want, then what you have done to achieve it, has been the right thing to do.
It makes sense that if you have not achieved what you want, then change what you have done to arrive at this result. Simple really. But is it?
Through coaching countless clients to improve their health and overall wellbeing, it is very clear to me that doing the right thing is never that easy. If it was, then there wouldn’t be such a huge industry helping people change their lives and become more successful.
So why isn’t it as easy as it sounds?
It’s all down to our brains and what it makes us do.
Results happen because of the actions you take. The actions you take occur due to your emotions. Your emotions are dictated by your thoughts. Your thoughts are created by your beliefs.
If the above is the case, then lets look at each step and the role it plays in the results you end up with.
Beliefs are based on what you believe. What you believe forms your core values. A core value is regard as a blueprint on how you want to live your life.
One of your core values could be to be an honest person, or everyone should be judged on their merits not on how they look or where they come from, a core value could also be all you do should be towards personal betterment at the cost of others. Whatever your core values are, they shape what you believe in and what you choose to focus your thoughts on.
Your thoughts are formed by your core beliefs. They could be said to be prisoners of your core beliefs. Your thoughts back up and prove that your core beliefs are true. They can’t help themselves.
The downside of our thoughts being based on our core beliefs is that we subconsciously search out things that reconfirm our beliefs. This is know as confirmation bias.
Confirmation bias refers to our tendency to search for and favour information that confirms our beliefs while simultaneously ignoring or devaluing information that contradicts our beliefs.
It is said we make decisions based on emotion. In the book ‘How Emotions Are Made.The Secret Life Of The Brain’ by Lisa Feldman Barrett, it has been found that emotions are not something we are born with but we create them from who and what we have encountered.
Why is it some people react emotionally to an event differently from others. Why is it some people run towards danger to give help, where others run as far from it as they can. It could be said we decide which emotion we have and therefore we can train ourselves to show a different one.
Independent of whatever emotion we have, we will act on that emotion. Unless you truly are an unemotional person.
The stronger the emotion the stronger and quicker our reaction to it is. Sometimes we act without thinking due to our emotions. If a loved one is in a life threatening situation, we might put ourselves in the same danger to help them without even deciding that it is the right thing to do or not. Only after the event do we sit back and think how crazy that action was, and could you have made a better decision.
In the amazing book ‘Mans Search For Meaning’ by Viktore E. Frankl the author describes the day he arrived at Auschwitz concentration camp and how a Nazi officer was casually, with an emotion of calm, deciding who should go to the work camp or to the gas chambers. I am sure 99% of us would be far more emotional in making that decision. It just shows that we decide what emotion we have to what’s going on around us.
What we get in life is the result of what we have done. Some would say that the result they got was out of their control, where others say it is a result of what they chose or chose not to do.
Depending what side you fall on, will determine if you live the life you want or live the life that others want you to live.
If results are ultimately down to our beliefs, changing our beliefs will end up producing a different result.
So how do you go about changing beliefs?
Lets first accept that changing a belief is not easy. If you have lived by a certain belief most of your life (not all your life, as we are not born with beliefs, they are created as we grow) then changing them can be unsettling and sometimes harmful to us and the people around us.
Also the reason for changing a belief has to be of greater value than keeping it. In other words, if what you achieve from changing a belief doesn’t bring a better result than the old belief, then you are more than likely going to revert back to the old one.
So if you believe it is for the better that a belief needs to change, then look at the type of environment a new belief needs to grow in.
A belief starts and is cultivated in a certain environment. If the environment is one of kindness, love and compassion, it is more likely your belief is going to reflect that environment.
If the belief has come about in an environment that is not conducive to self-improvement, self-growth and anything is possible, then you are more likely to believe that no matter how much you try, you will always be the person you are.
If you are wanting to improve your health, feel better, be a healthy weight and size and stop being tired all the time, you first have to change the environment you are in. Is the environment conducive to the changes you want to make in your life?
If you want to change then you need people around you that will help and support you through that change. You need to have an environment that is more organised so your time is better managed and planned out. It has to be an environment that allows you to consistently apply the actions that are needed for change to occur long-term, so a more productive life/work balance is needed.
For a new belief to grow and flourish, the environment must be one that has as few barriers to change as possible.
But before any new environment can be built, you first must get the brain on side first.
There are fundamentally two types of mental environments. The ‘immediate return environment’ and the ‘delayed return environment’.
An ‘immediate return environment’ is one where your actions make an immediate benefit on your life. A ‘delayed return environment’ is where your actions do not result in a immediate benefit.
When living in a ‘immediate return environment’ we tend to make decisions that are impulsive and based on how we want to feel at that moment. This can lead to results that are more short-term and fleeting. This approach can end up reinforcing our current beliefs in what we are doing is the right thing to do.
For example, “I have had a stressful day and a glass of wine always makes me feel relaxed, even though I know not having alcohol will be better for my health long-term, it’s how I feel right now that’s important”.
Where living in a ‘delayed return environment’ we plan for the future and accept that if a certain process is followed, certain long-term results can be achieved. This type of environment is more conducive though to a level of discomfort (not feeling instant gratification) and having to sustain from habits and behaviours that give us instant pleasure.
The problem again is our brain. Our brains have slowly evolved over the last 200,000 years. All but the last 500 years it had to cope in an environment that required an immediate return to survive. You either ate what was available at the time or you didn’t survive, there was no point in saving for a rainy day if you only had enough finances to live day by day.
So we are hardwired to be more reactive then proactive when it comes to living our lives. It takes time and focus, but how we think (believe) can be changed.
By building and constantly working on the right environment, it is possible to see different results, which in turn reinforce that the actions you are performing are the right ones, which will give you a sense of happiness and joy (emotion) that you are doing the right thing, encouraging you to focus on things (thoughts) that will in return give you even better results, reinforcing your belief that what you want from life is possible and is achievable through the right thoughts, emotions and actions.
So if you do want to change, then first build the right environment for the change to happen and grow. With the right environment, you will be able to start to believe, think, feel and act differently.
Your Health Coach, Chris