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Speech of the Week: Catch yourself in the act

Ever been outside at night, maybe camping, and you hear some rustling nearby? 

If you’re anything like me, you whip out your high-powered flashlight and shine it in that direction because you want to see what it is! Maybe it’s a bat and you’ll chase it away.  Maybe it’s a raccoon and it will just stare at you belligerently then you’ll have to chase it off with various debris. [Last summer during a field exercise I was speaking late at night with one of my officers and one of our Sergeants charged over with a red face and a wild glint in his eye “pardon me gentlemen, there’s a raccoon getting away with an MRE!” then just as quickly charged off after it.]

Unwanted behaviors, on the other hand, are sneakier and definitely more damaging than wild animals.  And they're definitely out there sneaking around and stealing and sabotaging your precious health, progress, and overall ability. 


In fact, they could be completely crippling you

If you’re human, you’ve most likely tried and failed to change before. 

So here’s one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal: Catch Yourself in the Act!  


It starts with an open-mind.  Your current state is your result. 


Only YOU are responsible for where you are. 


So something needs to be adjusted and it might not be what you think it is.  It might even be way outside of what your currently established ruleset is.   (Believe it or not, there are people out there, morbidly obese, dreadfully out of shape, who think that they’re doing everything correctly.  Everything except the result.  So it’s no surprise that skinny-fat or just average-average people can fall into this mental trap too). 


Chances are there are sneaky small behaviors and mentalities that you’re barely aware of.  If you can accept that then you’re ready to… 

Be on the lookout. 

Yeah it might take some training and some talking to a solid coach to figure out what to look out for.  What we’re interested in are poor choices that happen when you’re tired, stressed, frustrated, depressed, in transition times.  

You just got home from a long day at work. What snack are you reaching for?  


You pushed past that initial sleepiness and it’s between 10:30pm-1am.  What are you browsing for in the kitchen?


You just had an aggravating conversation.  How are you dealing with it? 


You’re around a group of people that make you feel like...how does that impact what you eat? 


You’re traveling for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th time this month.  Who are you eating out with and what are you choosing?  


Catching yourself “in the act” is a lightbulb moment that is almost magical. 


When it happens all of a sudden you realize that “this just happened and I’m doing this and this is why.”  When the lightbulb moment You realize is an amazing tool.  Sometimes it’s strong enough to stop a behavior in it’s tracks because you see what’s happening, everything is clear, and you know how to avoid it.  “The trap is laid in vain for the bird that is watching”.  

Sometimes it’s not that easy.  But when the light gets shined on the problem at least you know what you’re up against.   


Next time, you’ll be presented with a conscious choice: “this is about to happen, I clearly see it.  I can choose to do x, y, z, and feel like crap, or I can avoid it and build strength in a new habit."


While the light bulb moment is amazing, if needed, we can dig deeper and “farm/mine/forensic analysis our way into awareness.  This involves journaling.  This doesn’t have to be overkill and it could take a few different forms.  The important thing is to take quick action and get the relevant notes down immediately. 


The #1 goal of journaling in this case is awareness. 


(The #2 goal is reference data which is completely bonus status and not required so we’re not going to get hung-up on that now)


In this case, after “getting off”, ask yourself a few questions. 

-Who was I with? 

-What were we doing?

-How was I feeling? 

-What was I thinking?  


This method is like setting an “awareness trap” for the next situation. 


You’ll begin to recognize the same pattern taking shape (with a predictable result) and you’ll have the opportunity to divert the situation or at least insulate yourself from the worst effects. 


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