I have all the tools I need so why can’t I change?

I realized the other day that if I really want to become healthier, I really have all the tools I need.  I have been working on this for long enough that I have developed a tool box full of tools like journaling, understanding my irrational thoughts and reframing them, calming myself down through self-talk, telling my inner mean-girl to shut the f*$& up (which works surprisingly well), distracting myself, etc.

Not only do I have to change my thoughts but I have to change my behaviors.  And I have enough information now to do it.  All it takes is commitment to myself to do it.  That’s the hard part. This is where I find myself running to the thing that makes me feel better immediately, which is not the best thing for me.

I am wondering if this stems from a learned helplessness.  This is “passive behavior produced by exposure to unavoidable aversive events”.  Sometimes I have this overwhelming feeling that absolutely nothing I do will help, no matter how many tools I have in my toolbox.  I think what’s happened is that I often was helpless and that tendency has followed me along in my life, even though I am no longer helpless.  It’s weird, I can almost feel my balloon deflate when I begin to feel helpless.

To take this even further I often attribute any setbacks to my personal flaws instead of situational factors.  That makes it even harder to muster up the energy to change my behavior because in my mind, I am feeling defeated and hateful toward myself because of my helplessness.  So it’s a secondary feeling, a feeling about my feeling.

It’s like a double whammy of self destruction.

So this is my challenge.  Recognize when I am feeling helpless, determine if that’s actually true, and act accordingly, and don’t beat myself up for having the desire and struggling with saying no to myself.  And if I am in fact helpless, then letting go.  But if I am not, then taking the appropriate action.

For example, am I helpless when I have the urge to go out and get myself a sugary Starbucks drink?  No I am not.  It’s also not some personal flaw in myself that causes me to want the Starbucks drink, there are lots of factors that are driving me to it.  However, I can dip into my toolbox and choose another avenue.  My goal is to keep trying things until I figure out what works best for me in each scenario.  This seems overwhelming but maybe best for another blog post 🙂


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