Why Do I Do What I Do Not Want To Do?

Have you ever found yourself doing the exact thing you don’t want to do? Like gaining weight when trying to lose it. For me, I’ve spent the last 10 years trying to lose 20 pounds and managed to gain 50 instead. I’ve often wondered why I can achieve complex things that I set my mind to and fail at a task as simple as choosing what I put in my mouth. Time passes. Nothing changes. In fact, the more time passes, the more defeated I feel.

When it comes to dieting or changing any type of behavior for that matter, we each have an internal battle going on inside our heads. Our conscious and subconscious are fighting it out. Trying to ignore a craving or exerting our will power over it rarely works. Science tells us the more we repress a thought the harder it is to escape. I’m going to try a new approach. Care to join me?

  • Separate yourself and become an observer watching this strange battle between your conscious and subconscious mind.
  • Recognize that your subconscious mind can produce strong ideas, but it can’t make you take an action. It’s your conscious mind that decides whether to give in to temptation.
  • No matter how much willpower you start the day with, come dinner time it’s pretty much gone. As long as there are two competing ideas you will expend energy trying to resist subconscious messages using conscious logic.
  • Resolve the cognitive dissonance and be of one mind about your choices and willpower is no longer required.
    • Write down a few facts about the situation that you know are true. For example: I can go to the restaurant and have fun with my friends without eating dessert. I can relax without alcohol. The truth is that alcohol makes me anxious and depressed the next day. Shopping will not make me feel happy when my checkbook is overdrawn.
    • Keep this list handy and whenever you are relying on willpower to get you through a situation and you feel like you are about to give in to your subconscious. Pull out the list and read it.

Calming the dissonance in your mind will do more than trying to grit your way through the situation. Remember, you have a choice. Just like a whining child, the more times you DON’T give in to your subconscious, the faster it will get the message that “no means no.”

 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

Romans 7:15-20 (NIV)

It Is Never Too Late

Something sad happened—my 94-year-old father died. Something wonderful happened too—he taught me a final lesson.

When Dad first moved into the nursing home, I was troubled. I pictured long lonely days ahead for him. But I soon realized I was wrong. He spent time with the other residents and took a particular interest in the lives of the staff. They’d come in and ask him if they could do something for him and before they knew it—with his quirky sense of humor—he was giving them advise—whether they wanted it our not. He thanked them for their care, told them to take care of themselves and to keep looking up.

The day my father died, I stood in his small room with my brothers and sister. The sun shone in the window and cascaded across his bed. The chaplain was there to say a few words before the funeral home picked up the body and ready it for burial.

As we stood waiting for the small bedside service to begin, a group of strangers gathered and easily filled his room. The crowd continued through the corridor and down the hallway. They began to share.

“You know, I always thought I was his favorite,” one said. “He treated me as if I was the most important person in the world. The more I got to know him, I realized, Roger treated everyone that way.”When Dad moved into that nursing home, his life wasn’t over, as I had feared. He embraced the change. He cared for the staff, just as much as they cared for him. This was clear by the long line of visitors with tears in their eyes that came to say goodbye to their friend Roger. It’s never to late to finalize your brand. Thanks for the lesson Dad. Now, that’s strong personal branding.

Inside Out

Personal branding is the idea of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. Success comes from self-packaging.

You probably have a LinkedIn profile that highlights your education and professional accomplishments—your favorite life moments posted on Facebook. But, I’m not asking about your online presence—I’m talking about you. The person who IS the brand— inside—are you content? Or, privately, do you wish you felt less unsettled—more relaxed. Less driven to be perfect, succeed or find love.

What do you think of yourself?

Asking what adjectives you use to describe yourself is a great starting point for understanding your own personal brand. Start by listing out adjectives you feel represent you. Be honest with yourself. This is not who you want to be, this is how you see yourself right now. Write down the things you tell yourself about yourself everyday.

What is your personal brand identity? 

In other words, how do you want others to perceive you? This is different than brand image (what others really think of you.) Much like a logo and key messages are for a business, this is how you want to be identified by others. This can include physical attributes, character traits, values, passions, motivations, etc. Make a second list of the adjectives that describe who you want to be.

Does your inside match your outside?Now, compare the two lists and identify areas that are different?  When your self-impression matches how you want others to perceive you, you’ve become more genuine with your personal brand and taken a big step in the development of your image.

3 Things You Can Do When Your Self Impression Doesn’t Match Your Personal Brand.

There are a lot of great resources that help professionals learn how to build a powerful brand that they can use as their competitive edge while searching for a job, advancing at work or with their own businesses. But what about when your self impression doesn’t match how you want others to see you?

Here are three things you can do to help yourself become more genuine with your personal brand.

  • Change your behavior. Is there factual basis for your belief? If so, is this something you can change? Write down a goal related to creating that change in your life. It doesn’t matter if you want to do it or believe you can pursue that goal or not. (That is a topic for another day.) Just right the goal so you know a concrete step to take. Write down what obstacles might be standing in your way of achieving that goal. Now right goals related to overcoming those obstacles. Continue until you have no obstacles.
  • Change your perspective.If you honestly cannot change the item on your list determine how you can use the “flaw” for good. We all have imperfections or things we mistakenly consider one, and often our greatest achievements come as a result. Write this in the form of a goal. (ie: if you see being short as a hindrance to being a leader, run for President of Short People of America.”
  • Change your belief.If there is no factual basis for the belief, what is the truth of the matter? Why do you think you believe something that is not true? Take some time to think it through. What is the source of your belief? Is it a random thought that you started to believe? Is it because someone else has that opinion of you? Is it because of past failure or guilt? Take time to identify the lies related to your belief and make a list, then write the truth next to it. Refer to this list to remind yourself to tell yourself the truth.

When your self-impression matches how you want others to perceive you, you’ve taken a big step in the development of an authentic brand image.

How To Recognize Identity Theft

Have you ever tried to work in a job that doesn’t fit? I have. I would bet that just like me, you were miserable. Your caught in the cycle of trying to please others and feeling like you just don’t measure up. You know that pit in your stomach on Sunday night when you thought about facing another week at work? Depressed. Anxious. Need I go on? Don’t let a “bad” job discourage you. There’s nothing wrong with you and there’s probably nothing wrong with the job or your colleagues. You don’t need to find someone or something to blame in order to feel better about yourself. It’s okay. It’s just not your purpose.

The crime is committed if you allow yourself to stay trapped in that job. It will steal your identity and rob you from discovering your passion and purpose. The good part in all of this? These “bad” experiences help you to find your true identity. Sometimes discovering what you are NOT is critical to figuring out who you ARE as an individual. So, as it is with those people in your life that you admire, learn from the experience and move on. There is probably a good reason you had to go through this experience. Maybe you are in the role to learn a new skill or make life better for someone else. Do your best in all circumstances and don’t waste time in regrets or discouragement. There is a plan for your life and you are being equipped for that purpose. Move on and keep searching for your true identity. You will find it.

Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information and uses it without your permission. It’s a serious crime that can create chaos with finances, credit history, and reputation—and can take time, money and patience to resolve.

“Self-identity” theft happens when our personal worth is stolen and can result in frustration and feelings of failure or even hopelessness and despair. It is a crime that can create chaos in every aspect of our lives. We think a job, financial security or the perfect mate is the answer.

Self-identity theft is not always an obvious or dramatic crime. For some, the pain and destruction can go on for years before the crime is even detected. Recognizing the signs is one of the first steps to finding your true identity.

  • The illusion of perfection:Self-identity theft and the need to control. If we are insecure in who we are we will naturally find ourselves competing with those who we see as successful. We will try to control the world around us and create an image.
  • I hate myself:Self-identity theft and the need to self-destruct. I’m not worth anything—substance abuse, eating disorders and promiscuity.
  • I can’t stop myself:Self-identity theft and loss of self-control. Believing there is nothing I can do to control my own actions such as dieting or how I treat others.
  • It always happens to me: Self-identity theft and the victim mentality. Why does everything always go wrong?  It’s their fault. I can’t help it. Believing I am being punished for something and can’t escape.
  • I am right: Self-identity and self-righteousness. If they were only as good as me then things would be better. I need to handle it. I’m the only one who knows how to do it right.

Here are some practical steps to protect your self-identity and live a more secure and successful life.

  • Know where your identity lies. God made you and placed you on this earth for a reason. You are unique—finding and understanding your strengths is a great way to find that purpose and your identity.
  • Tell yourself the truth. Other people can convince us to believe things that aren’t true about ourselves. This can “brand” us with a self image that isn’t accurate—affecting our self confidence and preventing us from fulfilling our purpose. Learn to identify when that happens and tell yourself the truth. You determine who you are or what you will become. No other person can do that for you.
  • Ask yourself, do I unknowingly put myself at risk? Sometimes we sabotage our own efforts because of fear of change: fear of risk or we want to feel comfortable.
  • Ask forgiveness, forgive yourself & others.Everyone makes mistakes. It’s part of being human. Acknowledging those mistakes and dealing with them will put those obstacles behind you and help you move forward.
  • Don’t be discouraged and never give up. Even if you’ve lost your identity or it’s been destroyed. Life is full of second chances.—believe that and you will find your true identity.

Walk In Your Strength

Building your personal brand is not about copying someone else’s brand. It is about figuring out who you are as a unique individual, discovering your passion and believing you have something to offer the world. It’s about identifying your strengths, acknowledging weak areas and being okay with not doing everything perfect. Think for a minute about those people in your life you admire—leaders, parents, family and friends. Most likely each of these people has taken their own path. Yes. They’ve made mistakes, but they’ve learned from the past and built on those lessons to create a life that is better for themselves and others. They’ve discovered and walked in their strengths.

Relax. It Is Not About You.

In marketing, brand image is the impression of a product held by current or perspective customers. It is the picture created in the consumer’s mind whether real or imaginary of qualities and shortcomings. It is formed over time and is authenticated through the consumer’s direct experience. Similarly, your personal brand image will be the impression you give through your interpersonal relationships.

Think about what are you communicating. Be intentional with your actions and words. I’m not talking manipulation, flattery or insincerity. Greed says, what’s in it for me. I’m talking about being the kind of person who thinks of others and is authentic—the same on the outside as the inside. Think about your brand image. Do others benefit from the experience of interacting with you? If so, they’ll probably be a little more willing to overlook your shortcomings. People often form an impression based on how an interaction makes them feel more than how a person presents. Relax. You don’t have to be perfect to have a strong brand image.

So with this idea that a person is like a product, as a “brand,” I can influence others. Unfortunately, I have no real control over what image others form. However, I do have control over me. Here in lies the secret of building a strong brand. Repeat after me. “It’s not about me.”

When building your personal brand. Encourage. Give credit where credit is due. Appreciate others and tell them. Acknowledge their talents. Hear their concerns. Listen more than you talk. Don’t lose sight of the fact that there is something good in everyone. Even the most ornery coworker has a redeeming quality. Find it and encourage them in their strength. Don’t defend—listen. Be authentic. Keep it real.Keep in mind how your “product” can benefit your “customer.” It’s not always easy, but when you are successful your personal brand will be remembered long after your LinkedIn profile has left this earth. This is authentic personal branding.