In the last post, I replaced the vague question of "should I accept myself as I am?" with a process of discernment of a decision to change.
It occurred to me that these decisions have long-, medium-, and short-term manifestations, so I thought I'd work through an example. Perhaps this will become a series.
Here's what I came up with in that post:
1. Understand and believe the relevant facts.
2. From those facts, judge whether a change offers benefits.
3. If a change offers benefits, judge from the facts whether they are possible to attain.
4. If there are benefits that are possible to attain, determine from the facts how they could be attained.
5. Decide whether you want to expend the effort to attain them.
Understand and believe the facts: "I wear such-and-such a dress size, or I went to the doctor and he told me I risk diabetes if I stay at my current weight."
Judge if a change is desirable: "Yes, I want to have a smaller dress size, or avoid developing diabetes."
Judge if a change is possible: "Yes, it must be possible because other people have permanently dropped a dress size or lost weight or changed their risk of developing diabetes. Many of them have done it by eating less or otherwise changing their diets. I don't yet have evidence that this approach would not work if I made a similar change in my behavior. So it's possible that if I permanently changed my behavior, I'd permanently drop a dress size or avoid diabetes."
Judge how such a change is possible: "Well, I could sit down and figure out what behaviors I could change most easily. Then I could develop some strategies to remind me of my motivation. That would take some planning time. I'd have to practice the new behaviors. That means learning to do something that's hard, over and over again. I'd also have to learn how to deal with negative comments from people who notice the changes I'm making. And I'll have to be ready to respond to setbacks by making useful adjustments instead of just giving up."
Decide: "Do I want to do this?"
Understand and believe the facts: "I figured out that I habitually take second and third helpings at meals. I don't actually know whether I could be satisfied with only one helping."
Judge if a change is desirable: "Yes, I don't want to be ignorant about whether I can be satisfied with only one helping. If I knew the answer to that question, I'd know whether sticking to one helping would be an easy way for me to permanently change my habits in the direction I want to go."
Judge if a change is possible: "Yes, I could find out the answer by trying out the behavior of stopping after one plateful, and then seeing if I feel satisfied after the food has been put away."
Judge how such a change is possible: "I'd have to resist eating second helpings after I finished my plate, and then I'd have to pay attention to how I feel for a while after the meal, and maybe write down my observations. I'll need several strategies to resist the temptation to take seconds -- I could try eating slowly so that I don't finish my plate until it's nearly time to clear the dishes, or I could have a stick of gum ready to pop into my mouth as soon as I finish, or I could have a cup of coffee after dinner, or I could get up and leave the table as soon as my plate is empty. I'd have to eat this way at several meals -- say, five or six dinners -- before I could really come to a conclusion. "
Decide: "Do I want to do this?"
Understand and believe the facts: "I told myself I wanted to know whether I'd be satisfied with one helping. Now I've finished my helping and I want to eat more food. I won't know whether one helping satisfies me unless I can get to the end of the meal to find out how I feel after only having had one helping. But I want to eat more food and it sucks."
Judge if a change is desirable: "Yes, I don't want to sit here any more looking at the food and wanting it and knowing I could have it if I chose."
Judge if a change is possible: "Yes, I don't have to sit here any longer looking at the food. I could eat it. Or I could escape this situation. Or I could change the situation somehow so I wouldn't want the food anymore."
Judge how such a change is possible: "I could get up from the table and walk away. "
Decide: Do you want to do it?
See how small the changes can be? Even the long-term example needn't be "do I want to lose fifty pounds" or "do I want to drop six dress sizes," but can be a much tinier goal: "do I want to lose some weight" or "do I want a smaller dress size." It's long-term because the intent is for it to be long-lasting, not because it'll take a long time to achieve. The medium-term example needn't be "do I want to eat fewer helpings at dinner," but "do I want to find out whether I would be satisfied with fewer helpings at dinner?" The short-term example is the most immediate: shall I resist this helping?
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I made up those examples. Tune in next time for a real-life, real-time example from my own frustrations with maintaining my current weight loss...