I always ask women why they want to lose weight.
This list usually includes things like: being more confident, meeting their dream partner, wearing different clothes, no longer obsessing over whether she ate too much or too little etc.
This wanting promises us a life that we dream of. When I was obsessed with getting leaner, I would imagine myself feeling invisible and irresistible. If I only had abs, life would be so much easier.
This pursuit of happiness becomes something compelling that we chase after by trying new diets, continually tweaking our habits, exercise or supplement regimes or other tactics to alter our appearance.
This ‘wanting’ lights up the same place in our brain that is responsible for our other cravings and desires. The cravings we have for peanut butter brownies after a stressful day or a greasy pizza slice with garlic dipping sauce after too many Margaritas. The desire that we have for winning the lottery and being on a perma-vacation.
But, it’s the wanting that we chase after. Not the having or liking. Are you addicted to wanting?
It’s the anticipation for a better life, more attention, greater popularity and wearing different clothes that keeps us hooked on this want. Not the reality of actually having those things. In the same way that walking by a bakery with fresh baked peanut butter brownies makes us drool, our fantasies about this life we’ll have with a different body keep us hooked on dieting and obsessing over food or our appearance.
Much like the brownie, when you actually obtain the sought after reward (a better body), the pleasure may last for a short period of time, but then you are back to wanting more.
We become fixated on the anticipation. We recognize that there is a possibility to feel good and we get hooked on chasing after that. It’s the same reason we go crazy inside outlet malls and buy everything that seems like a steal, yet we get home and wonder why the hell we needed 3 Michael Kors bags. It’s the rush of wanting.
We mistake this wanting for happiness and fulfillment. The promise of a better life is so powerful that we continue to do things to ourselves – like restrict and deprive and tweak and obsess – that distract us from actually living in the moment and appreciating what’s already in front of us.
This wanting doesn’t have an end.
This is why you can become so hooked on tweaking your diet or exercise or styling your hair differently, yet still feel unsatisfied. You look for the next new thing to try to satisfy this desire that is impossible to fulfill.
You can change this.
By slowing down and thinking about the outcome – based on past experiences or by visualizing it – you can give yourself a reality check and adjust your expectations.
If you change your body because you desire to be more confident, wear different clothes or not think about food all the time, then ask yourself, what would my life look like if I had those things? Really sit with that.
You’ll realize that it’s probably not going to be that different than it is now. You’ll still need to pay the bills, deal with an A-hole boss, get dumped on dates, have raging hormones and need to skip yoga to tend to your child’s lice problem (or in my case, clean my bulldog’s bum).
And if you believe that your life would look different, then I challenge you to have those things in the body you have today. Stop wanting and start acting. Start appreciating and taking in what you already have.
This is not to say that wanting is bad. It can be a very healthy way to feel inspired. However, you need to ask yourself if you are hooked on the wanting more than the having.
When you free yourself from this, you start to realize that the thing you were seeking happiness from (dieting, restricting, tweaking, obsessing), was really the main source of your misery.
Are you hooked on wanting? Share your wants in the comments below…I want to know!