When I first started coaching, I was 75 pounds overweight and desperate to lose it. I assumed that my work with my life coach, Lauren Zander would be about my body. Not so. Lauren told me I had to change my personality first, because that was what was impacting my body.
What did my personality consist of? Good and bad traits.
During one of my first sessions, Lauren asked me to list all of my parents’ positive and negative personality traits. I felt I knew my parents fairly well and didn’t get why we were talking about them at all. A little miffed, I told her so.
“You come from your parents,” she explained. “And there isn’t one trait that your parents have that you don’t have. Some exactly the same. Some different.”
Her statement threw me and I immediately got defensive. “What? That’s crazy. I’m nothing like my parents.” I snapped.
“You are a mix of your mom and dad, a version of them. It’s not bad. It’s just the truth.”
I looked at the computer and scanned my parents’ negative traits. One of the first I listed was “defensive.” Hmph. I listened anyway.
Then we reviewed my parents’ positive traits. Turned out, I shared (and readily admitted sharing) all of those traits with them: playful, easygoing, spiritual, intelligent and nice. Okay, she’d begun to make her point, I thought. So how could this help me?
She asked me to find the negative trait that was my biggest obstacle to weight loss. That was easy: my Procrastinator trait. I get it from my Dad.
For years, I had talked about losing weight, attempting many times to get thin, but always failing or falling short. I was armed with excuses for why it wasn’t the right time to lose weight. But I knew right then, that if I was serious about losing weight now, and once and for all, I was going to need to face my “Procrastinator” trait and significantly change who I was.
“Your personality impacts every area of your life, but your personality is not permanent,” Lauren explained. “You can change who you are by understanding and ‘leashing’ your traits. Leashing your traits evolves who you are and gives you the ability to design your life,” she told me. This was a brand new approach to weight loss that I hadn’t tried. It turned out I enjoyed getting to know myself deeply. Only when I understood myself, owned all the tricks I pulled and excuses I made for why I couldn’t have what I wanted, did I begin to believe that I could have what I wanted.
The Handel Method® has a step-by-step process for this, called designing your personality. Though it sounds daunting, it is the EXACT work you must do to significantly shift your mind in order to align with your highest ideals (read, achieve your dreams and get happy).
Today I am giving you the steps to identify and understand your traits.
Make a list of your parents’ positive and negative traits. List at least five negative and five positive for each parent.
Identify how they show up in them, and in your life. Ask yourself what your version of your mom/dad’s trait is. For example, my dad procrastinated about cleaning his office/den for more than 20 years. He talked about organizing it for years, but never did it. Even after he retired it was on his ‘to do’ list. It took my parents selling the house for him to finally deal with going through all his things and cleaning it up. Just like my Dad, I procrastinated losing weight for many years.
Circle the ones that are getting in the way of your dreams and write down why. For example, my Procrastinator trait especially impacted me with writing and my body. I would procrastinate writing, leaving it until my deadlines, which caused me lots of anxiety. I also put off dealing with my body, my eating and exercise. I stayed overweight and “feeling bad” about my body for more than 15 years.
Log the thoughts from those traits. Pick one or two of the traits you circled as impeding you most. Keep a daily log of each trait for two weeks. Be on the lookout for it. Write down every thought that comes from it. Observe what triggers it.
Come back next time, when I will show you how I put my Procrastinator on a leash. I will give you the steps to takedown the traits that are stopping you, too. Remember this: Your thoughts are always exactly “what’s in your way” to having the life you want. Figure out what you’re thinking and why, by studying your traits.
One of the most important steps to changing my life and my body, was to know myself. Ultimately, I did “leash” my Procrastinator and succeeded in having the body I wanted. But it was about more than just shaping my body; it was about knowing I could also shape my personality.