From Resolutions To Evolutions

I’ve been musing lately. ‘Tis the ho-ho-ho-holiday season – a time of celebration and joy, peace on earth and good will toward men. Yet even the briefest glimpse of a scrolling Internet headline or an incidental news sound bite clearly illustrates that current world events are anything but. And, as I often do, I wonder how what goes on in the outside world can be used to explore our inner worlds – particularly as it relates to our bodies, our sense of self, and our sense of self-worth.

It seems to me that there is an important distinction between values and beliefs. I often hear these words used interchangeably, but they really are quite different. Beliefs influence perception – how we see the world. Values, on the other hand, influence our actions – what we do in the world.

For example, people can hold different religious beliefs (Christianity, Judaism, Atheism, etc.) but have the same values (be kind, do good in the world). And conversely, people can have the same religious beliefs but hold different values. But more importantly, beliefs and values are not limited to religion or politics.

We have beliefs and values about all sorts of things. We have beliefs and values about love. We have beliefs and values about money. We have beliefs and values about our bodies and our health.

Take a moment to consider the beliefs you hold about your body and your weight. We’re approaching the New Year – and year after year, getting in shape and losing weight top the New Year’s Resolutions. Do you believe you need to limit your eating in order to lose weight? Do you believe you can only eat certain kinds of foods to be healthy? Do you believe exercise can “compensate” for what you eat?

Sadly, getting in shape and losing weight also top the Broken New Year’s Resolutions list. And I have a theory about that… Take a moment to explore your values around your body and your weight. Do you value being healthy and fit? Do you value looking good and feeling good? Do you value connection with people? Do you value freedom and happiness?

Oftentimes our beliefs about weight-loss and management (i.e. eat less, eat only certain types of food, burn calories through exercise) are full of limitation and deprivation. And the experience of limitation and deprivation is in direct conflict with our values of freedom and happiness. In my experience – both personally and with my clients – it is this conflict between our beliefs and our values that causes the breakdown. It is a conflict between our beliefs and our values that makes for failed resolutions, leads to unrest, and creates the absence of health and well-being.

The good news is that these conflicts can be resolved. We can explore our beliefs. We can discover how we came to our beliefs. And we can challenge our beliefs. We can do the same with our values. And in this process we not only come into a stronger sense of ourselves, we find those places where our beliefs and values are congruent. And when live from those places where our beliefs and values are congruent, we have the power to transform our New Year’s Resolutions into sustainable Evolutions.