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Q:

I want to lose weight, quit smoking and get fit but I find it hard. I don’t feel well because of my bad habits and it is just no fun. What do you suggest?

A:

Pushing through obstacles and making change is a mind-set. We, as a modern culture, tend to moan and grumble about not getting our way or the difficulties we face. Two centuries ago there seemed to be a lot less griping though times were tougher. There was little time for fun, pleasure and personal fulfillment. Either you tended your fields when necessary or you and your family starved. Life fell squarely on your shoulders.

In modern times however, our reaction to disappointment and dissatisfaction most often comes across as, “Poor me. My life should be the way I expect it to be, easy and effortless.  It’s awful when it is not. I must do everything in my power to avoid difficulties, unpleasantness and discomfort because I couldn’t stand it otherwise.”

Remember the humorous quip, “God give me patience. But, HURRY!”

Not having sufficient patience in life often leads to fast and usually thoughtless behavior. People often react by striking out (anger) or withdrawing (anxiety and depression).

One way to take constructive action when things go badly is not to consult your feelings. This may sound odd at first, but it is something you do a thousand times a day. You don’t consult your feelings when you brush your hair, put on underwear or tie your shoes. You just do it.

Anytime someone starts off with, “That’s so hard” or “That’s too hard” or “I don’t feel like it,” you can bet that it’s the whine of self-pity that’s taking hold.

The action needed may be hard. So what? Either you do it or you don’t. You get a different outcome either way. The outcome doesn’t care, but you do.

Do not consult your feelings when you have difficult things to do that you know are good, healthy or appropriate. As Nikeä says, “Just do it!” It is easier and more enjoyable if you are not consumed with whining and complaining about the way the world is.

Work on making your time more pleasurable. Focus on the benefits of the outcome or the satisfaction you will feel later. Do not get stuck in self-pity.

Trust that you can do it. You will survive and flourish. Enjoyment, fun and fulfillment will increase as you develop tolerance to problems and displeasure.

You are not pitiful and poor. You can soar.
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Daniel Rutley
Daniel Rutley, Psy.D. is a Clinical Psychotherapist in private practice in Mississauga. He is also the best-selling author of Escaping Emotional Entrapment: Freedom from negative thinking and unhealthy emotions. He specializes in depression, anxiety, anger, habit control and relationship issues.