The Full Mind Weigh® to Lifelong Weight Management, a program of the Institute for Lifelong Weight Management – teaching you the skills you need to keep the weight off forever!
Many of us know someone who simply seems to resist the idea of change:
- the bright, skilled employee who supports their company’s mission statement and seems committed to the company’s goals but fails to cooperate with team projects and timelines
- the friend who says they truly want to find a life partner but puts in 80 hours a week at work and has no energy left for themselves, never mind for dating
- the family member who says they desperately want to lose weight, feel better, and maybe be able to get off some of their medications, but somehow never manages to change their eating habits
- the spouse who agrees to work with you to save enough money to buy a house, yet somehow doesn’t change their spending habits
What’s going on here?
Researchers have used the term “immunity to change” to describe a phenomenon whereby even while expressing a sincere commitment to change, many people are unconsciously using much of their energy in the service of a hidden “competing commitment”.
For example, the talented employee may fear being unable to complete tougher assignments in the future if they succeed too well with the task at hand, and so they avoid fully engaging with it. They are committed to avoiding those tougher assignments and the assumed failure experiences which could come along with them.
Your overworking friend may fear losing her individual identity if she finds herself in a relationship, and so she lives to work and avoids that risk. She is committed to protecting her identity even if it means being alone.
Your family member may fear the social attention that could come with successful long-term weight management, because of a painful relationship history, and so continues their unhealthy lifestyle habits. He or she is committed to avoiding disappointment, emotional pain and loss.
Your spouse may fear the lifestyle changes which could accompany home ownership (perhaps having less discretionary income, at least for a while) and so chooses to continue the habits which make home ownership impossible. He or she is committed to avoiding change, or avoiding giving up some of his or her everyday pleasures and pursuits.
My coaching client Emma’s goal was to establish a regular exercise program that she could easily follow. She really wanted to improve her strength, stamina and endurance, but something kept getting in the way of her ability to get to the gym on a regular basis. In fact, when we first spoke she hadn’t been there in over 2 months.
I asked her what she’d have to do in order to make her goals stick, and she said, “I’d have to go to the gym straight after work, instead of coming home first. Once I come home, I get settled or distracted with the kids and I never seem to get out the door again”. Emma was a single parent of Eva (14) and James (15).
I explored with Emma what was the worry that caused her to come home first, knowing that she wouldn’t leave for the gym that evening. She said, “Well, I miss my kids and I don’t want them to think I don’t miss them. I’m afraid of them thinking I’m a bad mom. I don’t want them to think of me the way I thought of my mom”. Emma’s mom, also a single parent, was emotionally abusive as well as neglectful.
Emma was often left alone at home while her mom was out with a series of different boyfriends. She was assuming that taking care of herself for an hour each day would result in her kids thinking that she was a “bad” parent. The competing commitment which resulted in this (untested) assumption was the desire to be a different kind of mom than the one who raised her.
We established a simple test that would allow Emma to evaluate whether or not her (untested) assumption held water. She set up a time to have a talk with her kids, and explored their feelings about her going to the gym after work instead of coming straight home first. To her surprise, Emma learned not only that her kids supported her exercise program, but that they wanted to go to the gym with her and exercise as a family! Emma was thrilled to bits with this outcome. She wouldn’t have to have time away from her kids after work, they’d become a healthier family together, and they’d keep each other accountable when it came to following through with their commitment to engage in regular exercise.
All it took was a simple test, just a little discussion.
How about you? If you’re feeling stuck, it could be due to underlying (untested) assumptions and competing commitments. Coaching can help move you forward. If you’re interested in getting unstuck, check out my time-limited 1:1 customized individual coaching offer here:
With your continued health in mind,
Doreen Lerner, Ph.D.
Director, Institute for Lifelong Weight Management
Creator, The Full Mind Weigh® to Lifelong Weight Management
The Institute for Lifelong Weight Management provides education and training. The Full Mind Weigh® is strictly an educational program and is not a substitute for medical or psychological evaluation or treatment. If you think you may be suffering from an eating disorder, please consult with a qualified mental health professional who is trained to evaluate and treat eating disorders.