Many times in my life I’ve sought to make a “change” only to wind back where I began. However, there was one time I truly did change. I remember it so well.
When I was a kid, by grade six I was pretty overweight. I know why… I love food! I remember going to Victoria Market and being sized up for a pair of blue jeans. As I stood in the busy isle, the merchant took out a tape measure and putting it around my waist, proclaimed “he’s a big boy”. But apart from that, in grade six, it really didn’t matter so much.
Moving along, I got to year eight and things were heating up. We were all “growing up” a bit. I had been catching the bus for much of my school life and quite a few girls from our sister school at the time got on it. Now, I was a happy guy, so I’d chat to many girls and that was going great, on the surface at least. Often as they would be getting off the bus, they’d hand me a letter, in an envelope and say “pass this on to Chris” or “Floyd, can you give this to Leigh”. It started to dawn on me what was happening – I was becoming the permanent wingman and I had enough of it.
So at the end of year eight, when it was the summer holidays, I started running. Leigh, a good friend of mine, would come with me. He was fit from playing lots of football. At first, I ran slowly and just made sure of one thing – I never stopped. Then I found myself rather naturally picking up the pace. Most nights, we’d run for 45 minutes. Of course, all our evening freedoms to roam the streets unrestrained, we eventually had to abuse so we started stopping off at the local pinball arcade and played Street Fighter, getting good at that along the way. Good times.
When school reopened for year nine, other classmates could barely recognise me. I was swimming in my school uniform. That included my school sports tracksuit. It had always stuck out, being mum’s own creation from a fabric that somehow positively seemed to glisten compared to everyone else’s. This, despite so many trips together to Spotlight. Tough times.
But life was looking up and my “wingman” badge seemed to have fallen off. Wohoo! The benefits of being a “runner” expanded far and wide. In fact, by year ten, I ran second in school cross country and life was on fire. At some point around then, I said to myself “I’m never going back to being overweight,” and I never have.
And that’s the way it goes with change, some things you do, some things, despite your best effort, you don’t.
So what is the X factor for change?
Actually, like anything in life, there’s no silver bullet, but there is one thing I reckon that matters a lot – your own internal thermostat. That is, what you subconsciously consider “normal” for yourself.
Like many a person trying to improve oneself, at one stage right at the beginning, I did listen to a Tony Robbins CD set and there were many things mentioned on it. One that represented a lightbulb moment for me was just this – that I have my own internal thermostat. The point being, if something inside me told me “Floyd, you were born to be overweight and you ain’t a runner,” then all my efforts that summer of year eight would have eventually been dashed. But I relished the new me so much, and more to the point, I felt that I owned that new me more than the old me. And so, my internal thermostat had been reset. I found a new normal.
Without this occurring for any change in your life that you wish to make truly sustainable, it won’t happen. It’s about more than simply self-belief. You will always gravitate to your own internal story of the “normal” you. You may bounce around here and there, but you’ll return. So be aware of what you have accepted along your journey, to be the “normal” you. If there are things there you want to change, consider how to change your normal – it is your ultimate guide.
Dr Floyd Gomes