Jun 2, 2013

Change Management?

I find myself in a position very frequently where I can see a problem, a solution, and a person's aversion to that solution with my family, friends and peers. I find this ultimately frustrating. I can't stand getting involved in peoples' personal tumult anywhere close to home unless completely unavoidable. I hate even more watching someone squirm over behaviours that can easily be affected and changed to produce a happy result they have been looking for. This tends to lead me to fairly frequent states of impasse.

I used to just look at it and go "well, look at you, you don't even follow your own advice and your life is a mess!", and that used to stop me from  getting involved for maybe half of the time. Except that doesn't work anymore. My life was a mess, and then I became a hard-ass, hard working person who didn't tolerate game-playing and got realistic with herself. I also got a fairly involved education that continues to grow on psychology and change management. I'm not just talking about about scholarly pursuits either, there have been plenty more things I've had to learn really quickly in the past few years, and it's a big life interest of mine. I guess I really have two things I want to talk about here, and I don't want to talk about them to bitch about how frustrating they are alone, because that's pointless and inflammatory.

Breaking out of a broken relationship (that you didn't want broken)

I actually didn't know how to do this for so long. You know that stubbornness you're holding deep down? The urge to keep talking about why it failed? To keep going on about why it's not fair, or why it's your fault? That is what is keeping you in a relationship that is over. Which is an unhappy relationship. Also, it has nothing to do with the other person involved, unless that person is some sort of sociopath holding you in a physically abusive hostage situation. That generally rules out most relationships you're likely to encounter, hopefully. Here's what you do. Get upset, cry, get mad, talk. Allow this for half a day if it's a crush. Anything where it was a relationship that got physical, a week or so at most. Long term relationship, actually...probably not much more than that. You don't want to go past two weeks.

Also, there's no sense of entitlement to your grieving time. That's not grieving, that's embracing and clinging to misery in the hope that it will bring the relationship back. It won't. And hello, it ended. For a reason. Why would you want to go back to a place where you weren't wanted? You're you! You should do better than that. What I'm saying is, don't be ashamed to get upset and cry, but give it a couple of days of wallowing at best, and then FOCUS ON SOMETHING GOOD. I'm sure you have hobbies and interests. I bet there's something about to come out that you're super keen on getting or seeing or sharing. I bet there is something you're making that is kickass and that you can share with people who will also like it. Do it. You don't need to be sad for some bullshit allocated time. Have your good, hard cry and then focus the shit out of those fun things, be stubborn about it.  It'll feel unnatural as hell for a while, and then it'll become normal. Result: you're kicking arse, being successful and having fun instead of getting caught up in the past. Fun. FUN, people. And while you're out having fun and being an all-around successful person, remember that you could get there of your own volition.

Now think about that for a while. Why were you pursuing a relationship that wasn't working? To be happy? But you can do that yourself! And the relationship made you sad. Put the hard work in your realistic future. If that means setting goals to get yourself relationship-ready and being happy as an independent person because of what YOU can do for YOURSELF (and others too), do that. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater, jump straight to relationship and miss all of those really enjoyable, inspirational and awesome parts of your life and who you are that come before that and are just as great. Now get really mad at me for saying that. Just make sure it's only for a day or so.

Weight Management

You're a skinny chick, you're not allowed to talk about these things! You come from an uneducated background on this and you'd have no idea what I go through with my weight, you assuming b*tch. No. No I'm not. I'm here as a person who loves and has loved over the years a few people very close to me with ongoing weight issues, and spends large amounts of the day trying to find ways in which to make all the bad feelings and health issues that come with that go away in the people she cares about, without being someone who ends up making them feel even worse about things and in some way less of a person. I don't like it when I see a loved one have to go through surgery that's complicated by these issues. I don't like seeing someone feel outcast and unloved and blaming themselves and being hugely mentally hurt by the way they look, which in turn seems to worsen the problem. I don't like seeing people I love and grew up with suffering consequences of poor health far too early in life, and I see these things and think about these things every day. I was speaking to someone today about their struggles with weight and it was really saddening. I can see the habits, but any change to the status-quo is met with aggression.

You are fighting a wall that doesn't really exist. And by that I mean it absolutely does exist, in your head. And your head is where you live if you're a human being. If you want a huge editorial article from someone who works in the field, I highly recommend this: http://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2013/march/1361848247/karen-hitchcock/fat-cityIf you don't feel like doing that, here's what I see. I see food becoming entertainment. If there's not enough of a significant entertainment source in the rest of a person's life, or they are upset and use food as a way to remedy this by creating a pleasurable emotional response, that's danger. Fancy food and fast food should be contextual, and not an everyday thing. Here's something I learned in class: assigning "good" and "bad" to foods and also diet fads is also a dangerous thing, especially if the issue is an emotional one of comfort. Why? This is why:
- Eating these chips is so naughty, I really shouldn't be doing this.
- Feels guilty, eats more chips. Gets frustrated. Eats more chips.
- Wash, rinse repeat.
What has happened here  is that a person has assigned "bad" to eating this food at all. That's created an emotional response. The habit is to then soothe that emotional response by soothing with food. Which creates guilt, another emotional response.......

A similar issue happens with yoyo dieting. Diets are not going to make you feel better about yourself. Realise there is a difference between a diet, which makes you change to an extreme eating plan with rigid rules, and a healthy lifestyle, which will gradually involve exercising, focusing on sleeping patterns, managing your family life, social life, workload, and also gradually changing food patterns to improve your overall lifestyle long-term. This is what happens with diets:
- Person goes on diet
- Person feels pressured by sudden habit change
- Person breaks rigid diet rules once or twice
- "Oh, well, that's the end of that then, I might as well eat this too!"
I'm not just assuming here. I've lived with this lifestyle with a few people I love dearly through most of my life.  I've also read up and done huge essays on it. I see the same things. The result is that a large amount of weight is lost in an unhealthy manner (in a short time), then weight is gained back, then a large amount of weight is lost again, but not quite as much as last time, then gained back. So basically, the person slowly gains weight in a way that bounces their diet and body around in a way that makes them feel sick and makes them feel like shit emotionally. So how do you get around it?

I have no idea how to talk one-on-one about this stuff yet to affect change. I wish I did. I read more and try more every time I see someone that I care about upset about their health or their emotions regarding weight. But I do know good habits. Food in the world I live in isn't about hunger. It's about emotion. Hunger is dizziness after not eating for three days. Food is about that awesome smell coming from the kitchen; the burger on the drive-through menu when I've been running around for the past hour and I'm poor on time and it looks amazing; the chocolate and the popcorn to go with my movie because it's the weekend!

Realise you're seeking pleasure and do something about it. If you feel like shit, go outside, or do some exercise. Do both and do it with a friend and you'll definitely be happier! I'm not saying that in a derogatory way, I'm saying it because it will change your hormonal levels almost right away, which will give you that happy feeling you're looking for. There's a paper on it here:
http://www.peopleandparks.org/projects/resource-centre/50-reports/69-feel-blue-report.html. I've spoken to some of the researchers on this, and it basically shows that being in nature just generally makes people happier. Team that with a friend and some exercise and your body will be pumping you full of happy hormones. Use these sort of things as distractions. And if you really need to eat something, see if you're still hungry if you cut up an apple instead. If so, go nuts. Cut up some nice fruit and eat that with your movie. Make some popcorn at home without all the crap in it and give yourself a portion to enjoy.

Portion sizing is important too. When you're eating something, remember your stomach is the size of your fist.  Decide how much you're going to eat, put that on your bowl, and don't go back for more afterwards. You already decided. Don't put much more thought into it though, and if you find yourself worrying over it, break out another distraction. As above, or maybe a hobby or a game.

The other thing to think about is fluid intake. Studies have shown that thirst is often mistaken for hunger. Give that a shot and see if you feel better for it, before going for something sweet or salty. If not, your worst-case scenario is that you had more water than usual today, which is good for you. Be aware as well that sweet drinks are a really easy way of loading yourself with sugar that becomes fat, and it's done in a way where it's easy not to think about it. Not to mention all the chemicals in soft drinks are kinda gross usually. Even the sugar-free ones. Fizzy mineral water and juice mixed together tastes nice and is way better for you if you want something like that.

That's the big thing really. Don't beat yourself up. Especially don't beat yourself up over setbacks. If you cave and eat a whole bunch of crap, then you caved and ate a whole bunch of crap. Tomorrow will be a better day. Each day is a step from where you were to where you want to be. That means there will be setbacks, that's NORMAL and OKAY. You're still committed to working on this and there's no reason to ever feel bad about that. I come from a family where obesity is an ongoing issue for the majority. I love people that battle this every day, so I hope this helps. I really do. I'm still working on a way to talk about and work through this stuff with my loved ones in a way which gives them control and doesn't make them feel sucky.

Here's something else that might help anyone wanting to better understand how change works: http://www.uri.edu/research/cprc/TTM/detailedoverview.htmOtherwise just google the Transtheoretical Model of Change and see what you can turn up with your own resources.

Locus of Control

Changing any sort of habit or feeling is going to have a similar sort of path in at least some way. This is where the locus of control comes in. The Locus of control is about where or not you believe control of your life is your own (internal) or due to some outward source (external). You might tend toward one or the other, and you may have a different locus of control in different circumstances.

It's part of why religion can make you feel okay about life (It's spaghetti monster's will, it's not my fault, things will get better etc.). And why too many different types of mayonnaise to choose from at a store can make you feel you could've done better with something ultimately fairly insignificant. Well, that last part was vague, and also related to choice paradoxes (see video):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VO6XEQIsCoMLocus of control in relationship breakups and diet is kind-of a double-edged sword. You can have an external locus of control "the world sucks, men/women suck, I'm addicted I can't help it, I'm just doomed to be a shit person", or you can have an internal locus of control and assume a level of responsibility yourself. In these sort of scenarios, an external locus is going to superficially protect you emotionally in the short-term by stopping you from experiencing change, which usually feels pretty scary even if you are in a crappy situation that needs changing.

An internal locus of control is more stressful and feels riskier. It means you're the one in charge. That's different from it being "your fault, therefore hopeless", by-the-way. That comes under external, it's a form of situational blame that is change-averse. Internal locus of control means you have power, but you also have responsibility if things f*ck up. But it gives you the power to change things. Locus of control isn't a concrete thing. It's something you form in your head based on a whole host of things, like experience and personality. And it can be changed. If you can take on board that the ball is in your court, you can then look at your next move. That's what people need to do to get through things rather than stuck in them. Here's some stuff on locus of control, in case I've made no sense at all: http://psychcentral.com/encyclopedia/2009/locus-of-control/.

So this was a huge entry. I'll summarise. I care a lot about a few people who are not happy with their lives right now for various reasons. I'm sick of being that pain-in-the-arse who gets frustrated without being useful. I want to see these people happier about their lives. I want to see them succeed. I have a bunch of various information from my own shitty experiences, positive experiences, and from my studies. I'm trying to share that.
  • Own how you feel, embrace it, then move on to something that makes you happy.
  • Distractions that put you in the direction of where you want to be are your friend.
  • Control is a complicated game that you play with yourself.
  • Emotionally punishing yourself for an undesired habit tends to perpetuate that habit.

See you next time.

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