I started working with the nutritionist Chris Sandel 18 months ago for a variety of reasons, ranging from my lack of energy to how I felt about my body. When starting our 6 month program together, a couple outcomes I hoped for were: making it into the evening without feeling like I was hit by a bus by the time I dragged myself through the door at night; and not obsessing over food for the rest of my life.
However, I did not anticipate that the most important outcome would be his profound impact on my mental state. Yes, some of it had to do with food, body image, etc. But the equally important part has been about setting intentional beliefs - something I to be applied at home and work.
Although I no longer have the pleasure of working with him on a 1:1 basis, he continues to impact me through his blog and podcast. I recently heard him say something that has really resonated with my work-self during a challenging professional year:
If we're really self-honest, how true is this!? As humans, we do it all. the. time. In the case of his November podcast with Summer Innamen, he was talking about body image. But think about all the other places this applies: when writing a business case, you look for supportive data to sell the idea you want. When you feel like you're an outsider at work, you tell your spouse stories about not being included in that day's water-cooler chat. When you're pessimistic (or optimistic!), you use good and bad moments to overgeneralize about the future state of your entire life.
Here are a few very personal examples of my current beliefs; they may be true (or not), but the point is: I admit that I seek data to support them:
- Londoners are unfriendly.
- My fiancé doesn’t listen to me.
- Women are treated with bias in my industry.
And don't get me wrong; I am not suggesting that we ignore data and stats. If collected correctly, these are objective truths. However, what is subjective is the story - or belief - that we create, which is based on them. This is similar to what I've said about Pro / Con lists: They're a set of facts. Depending on what you want the outcome to be, you apply your preference to sway these objective facts into the 'pro' or 'con' category. It's self-marketing.
So what would happen if I looked for examples that countered my beliefs, like: That time the local barista chatted me up (as opposed to the time another one aggressively scolded me for taking the wrong drink - still scarred!). How 5 years ago, my fiancé heard one tiny comment I made in passing and turned it into my Christmas present that year. How many people - women and men have approached me to say: I want to help your career. What can I do for you?
If I simply turn my focus to a different set of facts and give their importance equal weighting, can I shift my beliefs and change the future outcome?
After all, if Phoebe did it, I probably should too.