Monday, May 12, 2014

Avoid the Militant Mindset

What's more enjoyable:  doing something because you want to do it, or doing something because you're forced into it?

For many of us, it's more satisfying to do things when we feel like doing them. Yet, in life and in health it's easy to develop a militant mindset in which we become overly strict and focused on rules that we impose on ourselves. Not only does a militant frame of mind make us overly critical of ourselves and our lifestyle, it also takes us farther away from what we truly want. A lot of times, this mindset can block you from asking yourself what you want altogether.

Being healthy in life doesn't have to involve pain and suffering. The image comes to mind of clocking five days a week at the gym, drinking green-colored smoothies every morning, tolerating handfuls of supplements, keeping up with fear-based research on what food is healthy versus not, and nervously eying the weight scale. Is this a picture of health in your mind, and is this how you want to live?

Ask yourself where in your life you're excessively militant toward yourself. We can all benefit by easing back from rigid and forceful approaches in life. Let yourself have some leeway throughout your days, and see what you can learn about yourself and your health in the process. You may find that the militant approach is stemming from your fears rather than your true inclinations. This mindset often gives us the false impression that we're in control of everything when we're actually nervous about uncertainties in life. Fears and worries still bubble underneath the militant mindset, no matter how much we're convinced we're doing everything "right."

It's easy to spring to the "have to's" and "musts" first thing in the morning. Try a different approach once in a while so you can practice avoiding the militant mindset. Ask yourself what you want to do for a change. Doing things when you feel like doing them, whenever possible, sparks real energy behind your actions and puts a natural spring in your step. This practice also helps you to be less critical and judgmental toward yourself, as well as less punishing about "not doing the right thing." Consider that if you're doing what you want, then it is the right thing and perhaps the best thing for your health. 

This week, challenge yourself to step away from the militant mindset, and see how much more you can enjoy yourself and health in the process.

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