Thinking about the 4 levels of thinking

Level 1. What do I need? That is, how can I get the things I want? What’s in it for me? How does it affect me? Will I get caught or punished if I do not follow the rules?

Level 2. What do others think? That is, will they still like and approve of me? Will they still think that I am a good person? How do I fit in and avoid criticism? How will they feel if I tell them what I really think?

Level 3. What do I think? That is, am I maintaining and staying true to my own personal integrity, standards, and internal values? Am I achieving my goals and being guided by my ideals and values? How can I get them to subscribe to my belief system? Am I living, working and loving to the best of my ability and potential?

Level 4. What do we both need? That is, how can other people’s thinking and actions help me to develop and grow? How can I seek out information and opinions from others to help me modify my own ways of understanding? How can conflict and adversity be an opportunity to inform and shape my thinking? Where is the interconnectedness between us, and how can we best support each other as growing, learning human beings?

It turns out that our greatest adversities and most complex problems in life are best overcome when we look at them with the next level of thinking.

[Note: In my previous post, Why there is nothing wrong with being fat, I claimed, “There is zero scientific evidence that diet and exercise results in significant weight loss in the long-term.” In hindsight, this was an exaggeration of the evidence and it has been changed to, “There is minimal scientific evidence that diet results in substantial weight loss in the long-term (greater than 2 years).”]

2 ways to overcome a problem

One is to learn. The other is to grow.

We learn when we look at our problem with our existing perspective, but develop our knowledge and skills to overcome it.

“I want to lose weight for my wedding day, so I’m reading the newest detox diet book to find out how.”

We grow, on the other hand, when we reach an entirely new perspective in order for a better solution to be found.

“How much I weigh at my wedding will not actually influence my experience, as I see that, 1) I am so much more than my body, and 2) the possible judgements of others do not define who I am.”

Sometimes, of course, learning is exactly what is required.

But much of the time, the universe is full of wondrous things that are patiently waiting for our minds to grow, in order for us to see them.

7 questions to ask if you’re struggling with your weight

Q1. What would weight loss make more possible?

It might be body satisfaction, better health or more happiness. It is different for everyone, so list whatever it would truly make possible for you.

Q2. What would achieving these things make more possible?

It might be more confidence, more energy, or even being a better parent. Again, list whatever it would make possible for you.

Q3. What would achieving these things make more possible?

And keep on asking this same question until it no longer makes sense, you can’t answer it after considered thought, or you start repeating what you’ve already said. The purpose here is to thoroughly explore the energy that is sitting behind your weight loss goal.

Q4. Now, of all the things you’ve written (body satisfaction, more energy, being a better parent, etc, etc.) which is the deal-breaker or deal-breakers?

Which one or ones pull on your heart, and make you feel that you cannot live without? Be selective here. Which is truly most important to you?

Q5. For this chosen item or items, brainstorm: how else could you achieve this, if weight loss wasn’t an option?

What are all the other ways you can improve your body satisfaction, get more energy or be a better parent, for example, if you couldn’t lose weight?

Q6. Out of all of these new strategies, which one jumps out at you?

What new strategy excites you and really helps you to achieve what you selected?

Q7. What action steps are required to achieve this newly chosen strategy?

Be specific here, and put a timeline in place stating when you will complete it.

Then start.

When you have the willingness to turn your struggles upside down, you’ll likely discover a greater sense of purpose, motivation and hope. 

As all of a sudden, you see more clearly what it is that you are actually struggling with.

[PS. i) Yes, you can still have a weight loss goal, if it is helpful, as part of this new bigger picture. ii) You can also try asking these 7 questions for just about any other goal you’ve been struggling with. Their usefulness certainly exceed weight loss.]

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