People like to lie to themselves. We all do it in different ways, but the result is usually the same. It takes us off the course of our goals and distracting our attention.
We lie to ourselves that we’re too tired to go to the gym. If there was a thousand dollar check waiting at the end of the workout, it’s incredible how quickly we would find the energy.
We lie to ourselves it’s just one cookie…ten times. If we had to watch ourselves on a video camera eating ten of them, we’d be a lot less able to ignore reality and we will pay better attention to the pyramid effect.
We lie to ourselves about why we avoid things that scare us, and those lies only trap us deeper into our problems.
We do this because lies excuse our failures. It allows us to diminish responsibility, and to put the blame on outside factors, instead of our own bad choices. It allows us to waste the most precious resource we have, time. Once we stop the self-delusions, we can finally deal with what really matters in life.
In Krav Maga, we say the only wrong action is to not deal with the problem at all. We can choose good and we can often do better, and not every technique works the same for everyone. You need to find what works for you. Here’s one process to get you started. If you’re improving by working through this in a different way, please write and share your process. I’m interested in learning from the personal journey of my students.
Step One: Be real with yourself. When we are real with something, we look at it rationally
Exercise: Write down what goals you want to achieve and what you are doing that is in the way of those goals?
• A: I want to improve my diet. I am still bringing in unhealthy food into the house.
• B: I want to get P2 in Krav Maga. I am skipping training and not exercising overall.
• C: I want to be organized in my home but I still allow everything to fall into chaos and it looks like a hurricane hit it.
Step Two: Understand honestly why you are doing this or not doing this. Without being judgmental and cruel, ask yourself what is your truth and why you are hiding from it. It doesn’t make you a bad person to admit you are struggling. Everyone fails a lot, including me.
Many times, people have valid reasons that stem from pain and fear. I find that one of the most common fears my students experience is the one of not being as good as others or learning slower than their fellow practitioners, comparison can be used for good or bad, it can motivate you or take you down. It’s important to be compassionate with yourself, while not making yourself into a victim and remember that it is your personal journey. By going on this process, you are already showing yourself to be a victor. You are strong enough to overcome if you commit to it. That is the way for you to make the errors, assessments and then corrections until you get to your desired results which you set to yourself.
Exercise: Write down what makes you deviate from your chosen path?
• A: I am still bringing in unhealthy food into the house because I am not concentrating on what I’m eating, because I know I shouldn’t be eating this food, but I really want it. So I just try not to think about what I’m buying and then once it is in the house, I eat it.
• B: I am skipping training and not exercising overall because I don’t feel I’ll ever be good enough to test. I am struggling with kicks and I’m scared I’ll never get it right.
• C: I am still leaving clothing all over the floor because my house is a huge mess and it feels overwhelming to even try to clean it. I don’t know where to start and I feel frustrated.
Step Three: Create manageable and tangible goals with minimum standards. One way these self-delusions can manifest is by trying to make the project too big to handle. Everything starts with small, simple and sustainable goals. As long as you start somewhere, you’re starting the process and that’s already a success. Set minimum standards of success and try to surpass them.
Exercise: Make a plan for your goals, the more specific the better.
• A: I am disciplined. I will no longer bring in unhealthy food into the house. When I shop, I will go shopping with a list. At a minimum, I will make sure I do not buy ice cream or cheesecake because those are my biggest weaknesses.
• B: I trust my journey. I will work at my own pace and talk to my instructors about how I can improve. I will commit to a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise a day in the morning when I have the most time, and at least two classes a week.
• C: I am organized. I will commit to dividing my house into zones and cleaning one zone at a time. At a minimum, I must make my bed every morning, and pick my clothes up off the floor and into the laundry basket before bed.
Step Four: Commit to the mission, through success and failure. Nothing in life is perfect. The better we do, the more we want to improve and make ourselves even better. And sometimes, we make mistakes. Making mistakes is human (although try to make as few as possible) and failure is a needed ingredient to success, as long as you see it as a temporary setback and not get into a victim mentality that you are defining yourself as a failure. Instead of beating yourself up and returning to the self-delusions of failure, go back to step two to find the mistake and then step three to fix the mistake, and then recommit to the mission. One helpful hint is planning and scheduling your improvements to make sure they get done.
Fun fact: Google has a special division which their main goal is to fail. https://www.inc.com/justin-bariso/meet-postmortem-googles-brilliant-process-tool-for-learning-from-failure.html
Exercise: Access a mistake specifically, honestly, and constructively
• A: When I ordered dinner last night, the grilled chicken breast came with french fries. Instead of throwing it out, I ate it because I didn’t “want it to go to waste.” In reality, it was in front of me and I wanted it. In the future, I will limit ordering in and cook for myself. When I do have to order in, I will make sure to clarify my orders and make sure no hidden surprises come up.
• B: I skipped exercise three times this week and only attended one class. I didn’t allocate time for it. Starting today, I will block out time and make sure I have no other obligations at that time.
• C: I’ve been so busy at work, I have neglected cleaning and the house is a mess. So I’m going to make a list of what needs to get done and do some every day. Today, I will allocate time to just picking up clothing off the floor and hanging up the towels.
Step Five: Step it up.
Once you have started to see success and achieve consistency, don’t see it as an end but as a new beginning. Now is the time where self-delusion gives you a really cruel lie, that you are done with the work, and can relax. In life, there is no pause. We are either regressing or progressing. Once you let your guard of self awareness down, your bad habits can sneak right back inside. Try to consistently access and improve on your old goal, as well as restart the process on another goal in a part of your life. Remember, you are a much more accomplished and capable person for doing this process and you can handle much more than you think you can.
Exercise: Evaluate yourself. Where do you go from here?
• A: I have been really consistent with my diet, bringing home healthy foods. Now, I would like to improve on my portions sizes and also begin taking a walk every day.
• B: I have consistently achieved 30 minutes of exercise a day, and at least two classes a week. Now, I’d like to add strength training.
• C: My house is acceptably clean. Maintain the schedule and now it’s time to clean my car.
Best of luck!