44. Stop Taking Yourself for Granted
Welcome to episode 44 of the Mindful Weight Loss Podcast. I am your host and your coach, Emily Erekuff and today I am talking about why you absolutely, 100%, without a doubt need to stop taking yourself for granted if you want to lose weight.
And now what does taking something for granted really mean. Google provides me with two definitions. The first is failing to appreciate someone or something especially as a result of overfamiliarity, and the second is to assume that something is true without questioning it.
And I find the interplay and overlap of these definitions to be so interesting.
Let's take a look at the first definition first: failing to appreciate something especially as a result of overfamiliarity. This is how we commonly use the phrase being taken for granted. When we feel taken for granted, we feel under-appreciated, undervalued.
And I don't mean to throw so many definitions at you, but appreciate also has two main definitions. The first is to recognize the value of something and the second is to fully understand the implications of something. And how these relate is so telling because when you don't appreciate something, not only are you undervaluing that thing, you are not fully understanding it. In fact it is precisely because you don't fully understand it, that you undervalue it.
And isn't this exactly what we do with ourselves and our lives. We fail to fully understand or recognize the miracles that we are, that life is. And so we don't fully value ourselves or the life we're living.
And I think this is really beautiful because it seems to point to our inherent worth and our very own ability to recognize it or even increase it. The implication is that if you did fully understand yourself, you would also fully value yourself.
And so, the more you seek to understand yourself, i.e. the more attention you give yourself and the more you invest in creating a relationship with you, the more you are able to value yourself.
And so literally appreciation leads to appreciation. Investing in yourself leads to you value yourself more.
And when I phrase it like that it sounds like something obvious. Like when you invest money in your bank account, the account grows in value. That's clear. And though it works the very same way with ourselves, we are very bad at carrying that logic over to ourselves.
We are taught to diminish ourselves and sacrifice ourselves. We are taught to put ourselves last. And then we wonder why we don't think we are all that valuable. And the vicious cycle continues. We don't think we're valuable and so we don't invest in ourselves and as a result we don't think we're valuable. And so on and so on.
And because we don't see this relationship between investing in ourselves and appreciating ourselves, we don't take action. We sit and wait for a light bulb to go on to tell us that we're valuable or for someone else to tell us that we are. We wait for something external and outside of our control to show us that we are worthy. We sit and we wait. And it doesn't happen. Because truly the only way for you to become worthy in your own eyes is for you to begin investing in yourself. The recognition of your own worth can come from no one but you.
And what does it mean to invest in yourself. The specific actions may look different for everyone, but the foundation begins with recognizing that you have a relationship with yourself and making a point to give that relationship attention.
And how we do that is actually a great segue into the second definition of taking something for granted. That second definition is to assume that something is true without questioning it. And this is what we do with our thoughts. We walk around thinking things like "I can't" or "I should" or "I shouldn't" or "It's too hard" or "It's not fair" or "I'm not good enough"and so on and so forth and we just assume they are true. And why do we do that? Going back to definition 1, it's often because of our familiarity with these thoughts. A belief is just a thought you keep thinking. The more you say something, the more you think it's true.
And the more comfortable you are with it. There's a psychological phenomenon called the mere exposure effect wherein the more you are exposed to something the greater preference you have for that thing. Repeated exposure to something makes it more familiar and thus more attractive. But as we've seen this familiarity, this comfort also causes us to take these things for granted. We assume that we know the full story and though we've let our guard down, we've also lost our curiosity and our excitement.
And that, I believe is the antidote to taking ourselves for granted. It's getting curious about ourselves and our lives and perhaps most importantly our thoughts. When you stop taking your thoughts for granted and you look at them, evaluate them and fully understand their implications, two things happen. The first is that you create space to experience and really know that you are not your thoughts. And the second is that you realize that most aren't of your thoughts aren't true and that focusing on them, repeating them, and believing them is entirely optional.
And when you experience that, you naturally build more curiosity. You start to wonder, "What can I believe instead? What other negative assumptions can I get rid of? And if I can think differently what else am I capable of doing differently? What else am I capable of doing in this life?"
And it's funny because in my own life, the more I have questioned the truth, the more I have come to realize that less and less is actually true. And that might sound tenuous or unsafe, but really it's a wonderful place to be because then so much is possible. Truth limits possibility. And the crazy thing is that we attribute truth to so many things that are neither true nor false and thereby limit what's possible in our own lives. "I'll never lose weight." If that statement is true, then you're screwed. But if it's not true or false, then it's up to you to create the truth you want to experience.
And so practically what I see from clients and from those who sign up for consults with me again and again are people who take themselves for granted as in they don't care for themselves and the reason they do this is because they take their thoughts for granted. They think they don't have time. They think they can't for reason a, b, c, or d. They think that life is just hard. And they think they are victims of circumstance. And they take these thoughts for granted. They assume they are true and don't bother to question them; they don't bother to challenge them; they don't bother to try to create different because they don't see that different is even a possibility.
And if you recognize yourself in any of that or if you have an inkling that you are taking yourself for granted, if you were my client, most likely we wouldn't be taking about losing weight. From the outsider perspective it's really interesting to see women, mostly mothers with full time jobs and so much on their plates. They are overwhelmed and they believe they have zero time to care for themselves and yet they want to lose weight. And they see weight loss as this independent activity; it's this thing to be done; it's another task to add to their already overwhelming to-do list. And, no wonder then it feels impossible.
And they completely miss the connection between weight loss and self care. They fail to see that instead of adding another item to their to-do list, they need to address the overwhelm and not in the external world, but in their minds. Overwhelm creates stress which causes fat storage and cravings and certainly doesn't help you feed yourself balanced meals or carve out time for movement or rest. And so if you want to lose weight, you need to get rid of the overwhelm. If you want to lose weight you have to stop taking yourself for granted and take really good care of yourself. When you feed yourself and you feel really good, overeating is a lot less tempting.
A belief or thought that I find helpful with this is to think of yourself as the CEO of your life, or as Elizabeth Gilbert puts it more gently, as the steward of your being. The bottom line is that you are in charge and a good CEO steward would not allow themselves to be run ragged. They value themselves too much and they know that they will perform better if they are taking care of themselves. They can't afford to under-appreciate themselves or take themselves for granted, and neither can you.
You must invest the time to question your beliefs about what is possible and you must invest the time to care for yourself and you must invest the time to create a positive relationship with yourself. Nothing less will do and nothing else will produce lasting weight loss. Nothing else will create the kind of identity change you need to create and sustain new habits and new ways of thinking and being.
And you can't let practicality get in the way. You can always find numerous excuses for anything. My husband and I have been working through this very thing. We both need and want to spend more quality time with each other but we work and have young kids and dogs and family and social obligations and we're tired and ... it's so easy for us to let all that practicality get in the way of what we want.
And coming from a more personal perspective, I told him recently after a long vacation seeing his family and feeling very disconnected from him that I felt taken for granted. And we had a good conversation about it and the next morning my coach brain started working. Notice, I got curious about it! And I thought to myself, ok, how am I creating this. If I'm feeling taken for granted, that's ultimately on me. And so I asked myself how I was taking myself for granted. And the solution was so simple it was almost stupid, as in I felt stupid for not seeing it before. I was the one not making time to be with my husband. And that's not to say that he was and that I was rebuffing his attempts. It's merely that I have the as much opportunity to create connection with him as he does with me.
I was taking myself for granted in that I was waiting for him to meet my needs for me. I assumed - i.e. took for granted - that I needed to wait for him to make time with me. And it's easy to fall into that thinking trap because he's the social one, the one who likes activities and adventures. But he's also not great at planning those things. That's where my strength comes in. And so finally this past weekend I did something that I've been wanting to do for a while. I acted as the steward or CEO of my life and I held a meeting with him. We got iced coffees from my favorite place nearby and sat on our porch and planned out future dates and projects that we can do together.
The old me wouldn't have made this happen because of practicality, because our neighbor came over for a visit when we were about to get started or because our kids interrupted too much. And the old me would have told myself that I was forcing my husband to do this; that I was forcing him to hang out with me.
But the new me is the CEO of my life and knows that I can't let practicality get in the way of my need to feel connected with my partner. The new me knows that my husband might gush or get excited about planning like I do, but that's about the planning and not about me. The new me knows that the meeting is a great way to plan and get on the same page. The new me knows that it's ok for me to step up and take charge, even though I'm a woman; even though I haven't done it before on this issue. The new me knows that getting my needs met is my most important priority, because when that happens everything else runs more smoothly. When I am cared for I can care for others. When I give to myself I can give more to others. When I feel good, others feel better when they are around me. When I know my value and invest in and appreciate myself, everything around me flourishes. And I know, without a doubt, that the same holds true for you.
I hope you enjoyed this episode and that you make a point to address some of the ways you might be taking yourself for granted. Take care and I will see you next week.