‘And the truth shall set you free,’ John 8:32
This quote has been used so often that many people don’t even know it is from the Bible. We say it jokingly and sometimes seriously, but what does it really mean? I’m not scholar, but I have had some experience with freedom, and my take on this from a practical application is that it’s all about breaking the chains of denial and rationalization. Rationalization, as I see it, is a process of telling yourself a story (okay, a lie…see how easy it is?) about something to make you feel better about that something. The purpose of rationalization is to keep yourself from taking the scary step towards change. Truth, on the other hand often catapults you to change, ready or not!
Here is an easy example. Suppose you are overweight, have trouble moving around easily and can’t find clothes to fit you. Rationalization says “I’m just genetically built this way and besides, some scientists say now that it’s not so bad to be overweight.” This has the effect of making you feel better about your health and no effort is required of you. Yay, rationalization!
On the other hand, truth says “Maybe I’m not genetically wired to be skinny, but I know I’m not healthy and I know it’s because I don’t eat the right foods and I never exercise. If I want to feel better there are things I can do.” This can be SO hard to do, because once you do, you don’t feel happy and comfortable. You feel like you have a great big to-do list. And yet, once you accept this to-do list, there is also hope. Because change is possible. So not quite the warm fuzzies that rationalization gives, but a chance for real change.
We are not wired to seek out effort and change. Don’t know why, we’re just not. But if you can tell yourself the truth about your health, here are 5 amazing things that will happen:
1) You will become aware of the things you are doing to prevent your goal.
Once I accepted that all the candy I was sneaking at work DID count, and that it wasn’t going to be possible for me to get to my desired weight and still eat it, then I became aware that I was sneaking a LOT more than I was acknowledging, even to myself.
2) You will become a powerful decision maker in your life, and not a victim. You know what? You may decide that you would rather eat bread and not exercise than be healthy and live longer. My grandfather made a decision in his sixties that he’d rather die than live without whiskey and cigarettes (and he did die, but probably not the way he envisioned. That’s another story). Anyway, you get to choose and acceptance is the vehicle to choice.
3) You get to have hope.
If you have ever experienced the nagging solace that rationalization provides (because at some level, you do know that you’re lying to yourself, so you have to keep reassuring yourself which gets tiring) versus the excitement that hope brings, you know the value of hope. I would have to say that hope is now my drug of choice.
4) You get to make peace with yourself.
If you have been sabotaging yourself, or doing things to undermine your progress, it’s possible that on some level you feel guilt or even shame about this. It might not be something you’d ever admit to another person, but it’s there. By pulling off the band-aid (OUCH!!) you get to heal and move on.
5) You get to have change.
And that’s the best part. Once you have let go of your ‘stories’, you get to stop old behavior and start something new. It happened to me, and it can happen for you.
So ask yourself if there’s an area of your health and fitness where you are telling yourself stories and ask, what would it be like to be set free?