My plan for one of my client calls this week was to highlight what I thought would be smart for her to consider, as she moves forward from all that she’s accomplished in her 6-month coaching program, “Your Best Health Project.”
But I began our call with a review. It’s makes good sense in general, to contextualize where we’re going, with where we began, and why we made the choices we made in our work together.
I wanted to remind her of three perspectives that shaped our work together — That we learn in two ways, with one important caveat. We learn 1) from the socialization processes that shape who we become in life, from birth through roughly age seven, and 2) through the repetition of these lessons, and 3) through the equally important caveat, that we were in a state akin to hypnosis through most of this learning because we were so young.
I wanted to remind her of these points because the vortex of the modern lifestyle, immediate gratification and fast-food nation are so strong, that if we’re not mindful, we can all easily get pulled away from what we know makes us feel better.
Socialization and Repetition
The lessons of socialization from my days as a newbie high school teacher made a lasting impression on me, when I was offered the opportunity to launch the Sociology program for one of Boston’s esteemed exam schools. This is when I learned more indepthly, and simultaneously taught my students, that up until the age seven, we learn “what is right, and what is wrong,” by our families first, and then our peer groups, then our social institutions, like our schools and churches, and then the world at large, like our workplaces, government and even mass media.
While many revere childhood traditions and mainstream ways of doing things, my clients and I, however, intentionally set out to “scratch the CD” of what they learned early in life, by creating healthy habits to counter what’s caused them to suffer from chronic and acute health problems.
Think about it, how could I ever hope to help my clients create healthy lifestyle patterns if “This is the way our family has eaten for generations,” or “Everything in moderation,” or “Lighten up, go with the flow,” is on perpetual autoplay in the background of their lives uninterrupted… while plagued with chronic symptoms?
Healthy Habits and Routine
Herein lies my whole reasoning for pressing my clients to create ONE healthy habit at a time (depending on where the client is at when we begin). IF we can effectively replace one unhealthy habit with one healthy habit, and consistently, we not only build a new habit, establish a new routine and develop a stronger mindset, we build the muscle of change, as we scratch the CD that’s autoplaying “You should do it this way, NOT that way.” This is not necessarily easy for some, especially after a lifetime of cultural conditioning and social expectation to conform. But that I attract some of the most badass clients ever, we achieve some pretty astounding results together — results that even astound me!
The thing that’s super important to note about the socialization process we all go through is, we learned everything we think to be true as adults, while in a state similar to hypnosis, when we were children. Think about it, when you were 3-years old, did you voluntarily agree that ravioli tasted better for you than apples? Or when you were 6-years old, did you have the wherewithal to say, I prefer salad instead of fast-food? Of course not. You and I were both taught from infancy through age seven and onward, by our families, friends and the world around us what was best for us to eat, drink, think and do. We developed “our preferences” according to their ideas of what is best.
Sociologists call it socialization, but the formal definition of hypnosis says we learn in a state in which a person loses the power to voluntarily choose, and is highly responsive to the suggestions or directions of another. There’s no splitting hairs on this one, we didn’t voluntarily choose our preferences as 3-year olds.
And with the epidemic rates of chronic disease we’re facing today, and with the ginormous benefits my clients gain from the efforts they extend to put autoimmune disease in remission, reduce insulin, go off anti-depression medication, lose 40 pounds, and so much more, this conversation of “who really chooses what’s best for us” bears repeating over and over, to safeguard the goals my client’s have achieved.
As my client and I pressed on about what she most wants now, I also reminded her that we can often feel penalized and/or ostracized, or at the very least, misunderstood, when others don’t realize why we choose to do things differently. THIS point, from my vantage of professional objectivity, IS her work, is actually every client’s work, as it is your’s too, to remain vigilant in WHY you choose healthy for yourself. That first, above and beyond everything else, is to remember WHAT matters most to YOU and why, and to cultivate THAT — Connecting to our WHY in everything is our great stabilizer.
You and I were socialized to believe many things we might not agree with at all; attitudes, ideas, behaviors, traditions, and/or practices that don’t reflect who we know ourselves to be, which is why so many of us struggle with creating consistent healthy habits — Through repetition, the ideas of others were ingrained. These ideas that are not of our choosing become our default-mode. And because of this hypnosis-like-state we all learned within, as innocent, young children,
- Many will likely not understand why you choose to do things differently as an adult. They’ll want you to do things “the way they’ve always been done.” As an analogy, the fisherman knows to never puts just one crab in the bucket. It will climb out. He knows if he puts two crabs in one bucket, one crab will always pull the other down. — The one crab wants the other to stay in the bucket.
- Why you too may find it very difficult to break unhealthy habits, habits that you want to break more than anything, and why you find it very difficult to build healthy habits.
But fortunately, socialization and repetition work both ways. You can scratch the autoplay CD of messaging that holds you back, by developing and building one healthy habit at a time, to establish a healthy routine and even develop mastery over time, even if you slip and slide along the way. I’ve established a whole new quality of life based on this model of building one healthy habit, building a healthy lifestyle routine, and scratching the CD of messages that no longer work for me. I’ve watched client after client achieve what they really wanted, beyond healing of chronic symptoms, like dating again, like flying across country to attend events they would have never attended, if not for feeling so good, like waking up every day free of the panic that once plagued them.
On our near last call, my client and I accomplished what I most wanted her to gain — A review of an important perspective of our work together, to hold her steady as she plans her next steps in life.
What autoplay messaging do you need to scratch up, to get to what matters most to you? Consider these three perspectives. They’re potent.
Want to get your health game started? Your first steps to healthy begin here.