The third secret of lasting change in my 5 part series on the five serest of change (if you missed the previous secrets, you can find them here) is that you need to be empowered: there has to be some room for you to modify or adjust the process to fit your own needs and life. Research shows that you need to have some control over the steps you are taking or you just won’t stick with it.

Any time someone tells you what to do, what happens? We innately and intuitively rebel. We don’t want to do it, because we want control over our own choices. It’s human nature.

My sister is a physician and she is working in Abu Dhabi and where she is, there is no pork allowed. Every time she comes home, she eats all the pork she can. She will say that before going there, pork was not even on her radar screen: she was never a big fan of pork and could live without bacon. Now when she comes home, she cannot get enough and looks to have pork any time she can!

That’s often how it works with diets when we are told we cannot have something, we just want it more. It has nothing to do with willpower or the lack of it. It’s not about weakness. If we are told we can’t have or do something, invariably, that’s all we think about. It’s called thought suppression theory and it’s been proven over and over again. If we are told not to think about something, it becomes impossible to NOT think about it.

The question was first posed by Dostoyevsky in 1863: how do you stop thinking about a white bear? People told not to think about a white bear while thinking out loud will mention it about once a minute. Now in your normal conversations, how often would you talk about a white bear? But once the idea is planted, the mind attaches to it and we can’t stop thinking about the white bear or the ice cream or the new shoes on sale.

Since Dostoyevsky, there have been many studies on this phenomenon. One of the initial studies by four scientists, Wegner, Schneider, Carter and White in 1987 revealed that when we try to stop a simple thought or task and we succumb to that impulse to stop, a snowballing effect begins. We try and fail and try and fail and the thought becomes increasingly persistent. In fact, studies show that suppression may be the beginning of obsession instead of the other way around. Instead of not doing something it becomes something we cannot stop thinking about.

In my forthcoming course, Finally Make It Happen, we look at how you can make change while staying empowered. So there are no rules, no fixed or mandatory steps. You retain control over the specific actions steps you take and the pace at which you decide to make change so that you never feel that you lack control or decision authority over your own life.

I’ve learned, as I bet you have too, that grapefruit diets or forcing yourself to stop doing something, or even to reverse it and to do something, that isn’t what you want to do, feels hard or doesn’t fit in your lifestyle, is not going to work long-term. Only YOU know the best steps to take and the order and speed with which to take them. So in my course, I help you to identify the right steps for YOU and put a plan in place to keep moving forward and making progress at your own pace. Only you know what’s right and best for you and so you need to be empowered to create the right course of action for YOU.

But you don’t have to wait to take my course to put this secret into action. Any program, process, diet or plan you pursue can be tweaked or modified to fit your lifestyle and your habits. Be empowered to modify any program to fit YOU. If most of it works but one part doesn’t, follow the parts that align with you and either wait to take on the other part until you’ve had some success, or modify it: skip it or do it 3 times a week or every other day instead of every day.

Start with something that feels doable for you and let it evolve over time as you feel ready. It may take some time, but you didn’t get to where you are over night, so why should you think you can undo it that way? Just keep moving forward and it won’t be long until you Finally Make It Happen.

To your wellness and health: your true wealth!


Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal. Learn more about Inger and receive her free bestselling ebook What Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You.

Article Photo: courtesy of Salvatore Vuono |

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