In January 2011, I was laid off from a job that I had been with for eight years. I was employed as an online personal trainer for a diet web site. The company was a complete financial mess and laid off a large number of employees. Not only did this news come just after Christmas, but employees were also told there would be no severance packages. Nice way to open up 2011 –mega stress. I knew it was coming, but no matter what, I still felt that limbo sensation for a few weeks afterwards. I decided to become the captain of my own ship by creating a web site, writing a book (in process), and creating my life, my way.
That sounds profound and philosophical, but the reality of the situation is that during the midst of my building process I got hit with something that most people think I never experience. There was a day when I was in Starbucks and I had an overwhelming feeling about what I was undertaking. In came tiny whispers from my emotions — “What if it doesn’t work? What about the mortgage?” While this is going through my head I’m staring at my personal kryptonite through a glass case – delicious and mouth watering cookies and muffins. I swear those cookies were calling my name with a nice huge grin. My urge was strong, but what bothered me was that it had nothing to with hunger and nothing to do with just wanting a treat. This had to do with trying to alleviate stress. It was a trick manufactured by my emotions. A trick I didn’t fall for.
The layoff was not an invitation for me to wallow in despair. It was not a license to stop working out. It was not a license to eat haphazardly. If anything, this made my workouts, nutritious foods and overall consistency even more vital. The quickest way to increase stress in your life is to completely cave-in to stressful situations, and then allow your physical body to become damaged. When your physical body becomes damaged from pig-out food fests, lack of exercise and worry, it means you’re spiraling out of control –and when you’re spiraling out of control the end result is self-loathing. Self-loathing is one of the most damaging emotions a person can feel.
I’ve come to the point where I can ask myself why I’m doing something and then visualize how I’ll feel afterwards based on which decision I make. That visualization, which involves clearly seeing and feeling the outcome, is what helps me every time. That’s what I want you to have. I’m not perfect and I’m not trying to be. It’s simply a technique that works and I can teach you to do this.
But what if you don’t know it’s a trick? What if you’re not even aware of what’s happening at the moment? The answer lies in being brutally aware of your thoughts. In those moments, you’ll tell yourself things like “I deserve this,” “I really need this,” or even “I just don’t care.” It’s a trick. You may truly believe in that moment that you don’t care, but you WILL care later.
The first step is recognizing this tendency/urge. Before you can overcome it, you have to become aware it’s happening, then you can learn to talk yourself through it. This process won’t happen overnight, and it won’t be easy at first. Any worthwhile endeavor will have difficult moments at the start. It doesn’t all become better because you blame stress and then go on a cookie-eating fest. It doesn’t all become better because you blame your upbringing or your failed marriage or your kids. You are responsible and accountable. You make that choice every moment.
These kryptonite moments come in many disguises: work stress, family issues, financial struggles, even health concerns. And they arrive for everyone. Be aware, and always come back to the question, “is this choice in my best interest?”
The most difficult thing is doing the right thing at your weakest emotional moment because in these moments, no one will come to save you, you have to save yourself.
What triggers your kryptonite moments?