#120: Proven Systems

Hello there. This is Bethanie Hansen, I’m here with you on the Mindset for Life podcast. And we’re going to talk today about proven systems.

Proven systems are things that we know work. There are certain kinds of proven systems that we have out there in the world. And one of those things just might be about the way we manage our thinking or the way we manage our brain. Now, that’s something we don’t talk very much about in daily life. But here on the Mindset for Life podcast, we talk about it all the time.

And I want to liken a weight loss system to the way that we can develop a system for managing our thinking and have a healthy relationship with ourselves and with other people.

Now, this podcast is for you, if you love, serve, and teach others, you want things to keep getting better. You want encouragement, and just one little idea today to get stronger in your life, your relationships, and your work. And I just want you to know that I do coaching, I help people take control of their situation, and have power to do what they need to do. One group I coach often is tech leaders and executives in that industry. And for these folks, I’m often a confidence coach. And for educators, especially online educators, I am a wellbeing coach, and I share tips and strategies to manage that kind of work.

Now if you want a little encouragement, today, we’re going to talk about proven systems. And I hope you’ll find this reassuring and encouraging. Now, the metaphor for proven systems is my diet plan. And I am almost 50 years old. But in the last seven years, I’ve finally cracked the code of how to lose weight for myself. Now, my system will not work for everybody. But it definitely works for me. And the one thing I can promise you is that when you create a system and follow it regularly and rigidly, you can believe it will work and it likely will work for you.

So, I’m going to tell you about my system just a little bit. And it’s kind of this metaphor for how we can use a system to manage our thinking. And by the way, in coaching other people, a lot of times it comes down to thinking.

It’s something like an automatic assumption or a perception that we have, that other people don’t have, that comes up in our mind that creates all this frustration. We think people are doing something mean to us, or maybe they’re trying to hurt us or out to get us or they just don’t like us. And a lot of times that just hinges on some little assumption that somebody has that was unspoken. And later, we may or may not figure out.

So, in my experience, my weight loss plan has been a proven system for me. Now it started out seven years ago, almost like this urgent feeling. I was an overweight adult for most of my over, over-20-year-old life. I got married when I was 24. And I was probably 185 pounds at that time. And for my body type and my frame, that was already overweight.

But eventually, over many years, I ended up weighing about 249 pounds. I just gained weight over time. I had a couple of children. And I looked around me at my genetic group, my family members, and thought, well, I have no choice. I thought, you know, my assumption was I have a destiny to be overweight because all my relatives are, and there’s just nothing we can do.

And I didn’t understand very much at the time, how much that line of thinking actually created more problems for me. True, there are genetic predispositions to, like, crave certain foods or eat in certain ways or benefit or not benefit from exercise and things like that.

And we can’t neglect the significance of how much surrounding ourselves with people who think all the same ways influences us. So, if I’m going to hang out with all my relatives, and we’re all going to be eating goodies or bread or things like that, that tends to really add to my weight problem. Then I’m going to keep having it. I’m probably going to want to feel part of that group as I always did, and I’m going to participate.

So, you might be thinking, well if you want to change that, why don’t you just change it?

And I would like to just say from my own experience that it’s difficult to do. You can change a lot of things and become more active and eat differently and skip desserts and eat smaller portions. And in my case, I could lose maybe 20 pounds, and then pretty quickly, it would just come right back on.

Now the proven system that I developed and kind of discovered about seven years ago has to do with a medically assisted weight loss plan that I participated in. I’m not going to go into detail about that, I’m not in the business of selling weight loss. And I’m not trying to convince you that you should use this plan. But one of the things that I learned about the plan when I first tried it was: if you don’t see the weight moving on the scale, use other measures to see if you are still moving forward.

One of those measures had to do with using a body fat percentage calculator. Now I know there’s a lot of controversy out there about whether or not these things work. But for me, that was a really helpful piece of data.

Other things I used for my data included measuring my waistline and other parts of my body to see where measurements were changing. If I was changing the measurements, then I could see even if the weight wasn’t budging, that I was still doing some good and some progress was happening.

Another thing that was more subjective, but I could kind of check in with on a daily basis was whether or not I had energy. If I was starting to feel sluggish and drained and fatigued, I either needed to drink more water, measure my portions more carefully, or get more sleep. But either way, I knew there was something in there that was happening, and the diet wasn’t going to work unless I was drinking enough water, measuring those portions, and getting enough sleep.

So, there were certain things about this diet plan that started to work for me. And I ended up losing 95 pounds in the beginning over about a seven- or nine-month period. And then in the six years since then, I’ve really worked to maintain that. I eventually lost five or eight more pounds. So, I could say that I hit the 100-pound weight loss goal. And right now, I’m just working on getting that fine-tuned and really hitting my goal weight and staying there. I’d love to do that for my own wellbeing. But it is discouraging. The path to any goal that we are trying to achieve is a difficult one, especially if the path is about hitting the endpoint.

When I first started losing weight, I thought about the endpoint as the goal. So as soon as I had lost 95 pounds, I was feeling amazing. And I thought it was okay to go back to my old eating habits. But instead, I’ve learned over time that it’s not about hitting the endpoint. It’s about becoming the kind of person who lives in the kind of way that can maintain that endpoint.

It’s about the process of getting there, not the destination. So, the proven system that works for me has to do with all those little measures that I might check in with. Areas where I can check to see if progress is happening, even if it’s not showing up where I want it to.

And then when things don’t work as I planned, I have some systems for that too. For example, I have certain ways that I can reset my diet if I find that I have veered in the wrong direction.

I also have some red flags that communicate to me when I notice something is off. For example, if I’m eating off my diet for very long, I notice inflammation. My face will be puffy. I’ll feel kind of like staying in bed. My rings on my fingers don’t fit right. And it’s just overall a very negative feeling for me.

So that’s part of my system.

And as I lay these things out for myself, when I feel that I need to get my weight in check, I can start at the top and say, “Okay, I’m going to follow my system. And I’m going to continue pressing forward, even when I think it’s not working.” Because I have seen this system be successful for me.

It’s worked for me in the past. So, I can work it again. And again. And I know it’s going to keep working.

And part of my system has to include what I will do when I notice it’s not working. What kind of data will I check? What kind of things will I say to myself to reassure myself and keep going?

And if I really blow it and totally go off the system and start to regress and get other behaviors going that are not going to serve me, or attitudes going that are not really going to help me, what am I going to do to reset, recharge and move forward again?

Now I have at this point, after seven years of pursuing this, I have all kinds of things in my personal system. I can list them out. I can talk to you about them, I can document them. And I know for a fact this system works for me.

In managing our mindset, we have to have a similar kind of system. For example, somebody says something unkind to us at work that feels really threatening. And all of a sudden, we think we have a crisis, something we have to solve, or something we have to manage.

Or maybe there’s a lady at church that seems like disconnected and sort of mean to us. Or maybe we feel disconnected from people generally. And we really want to get social again or get active again.

Maybe we’re working with a child, and we’re parenting, and we’re just hitting the wall. We’re having so much negative stuff happening between us and that child, we’re not really figuring it out.

Whatever it is in our relationships, it starts in the way we’re thinking about the situation. A proven system for us can begin with that mindset.

Mindset System Step One: Observe.

The first thing is awareness, to realize we’re in a space where we need to turn on our system. And use our system.

And that first step of awareness is to just notice.

  • Is there tension in the body?
  • Is there stress?
  • Are your shoulders tight?
  • Are you finding yourself just high strung a lot?
  • Starting to really get wrinkles in your forehead from furrowing your brow a lot during the day?

What is it for you that is going to be a red flag at the beginning of this system, to tell you that it’s time to turn it on?

Mindset System Step Two: Get Curious.

Second, question everything about that. So, in the situation where someone at work has said something unsavory, and now I’m in a panic, I’m going to start asking a whole series of questions. And I can use the same questions every time, I can still apply that same line of questioning, to my parenting situation, to my neighborhood, to my thoughts about myself and to my marriage. Some of those questions are things like Byron Katie’s ideas.

And one of those ideas is:

  • Is it true?
  • Is it 100% true?
  • Is it always true?
  • And who am I being when I think that idea?
  • What would I be like if I flipped it and thought the opposite?
  • What if I took responsibility for it and really owned what was happening instead of projecting it on the other person?

Mindset System Step Three: Act Within Your Locus of Control.

And then, I really love to go to step three of this system, which is to think about your locus of control.

Your locus of control is somewhat a small space. But it’s really that personal place you have that no one else can really take care of for you, where you can have the attitude of an owner about what you’re experiencing.

Like, I used to think a lot when I was a band teacher for 21 years, I used to think, what if I taught the kids to manage this room, or all our music activities, like they were the band director?

What kinds of things do they need to think and feel and talk about and behave like, for that to happen?

And then I would set my teaching goals around that.

And I would even tell them that that’s what I was doing. And pretty soon they would all be on board and behaving in a way where they were taking ownership, instead of just waiting to be led.

So, in that same way, this part of the proven system is thinking about my own locus of control, and you thinking about your own locus of control.

  • What is truly 100% within your control?
  • Well, for one thing, it’s within your control, whether you choose to stay at that company or at that school that you work for.
  • It’s within your control, whether you show up for work today, or whether you’re sick.
  • It’s within your control, whether you decide to engage in a conversation with someone else, or whether you excuse yourself and take a break.
  • It’s within your control whether you choose to show up for your marriage today, and purposely choose to be married. and own the fact that you’re choosing that person again. And again. Even if you’re frustrated at them or something they do annoys you, every single day, you get to choose again, to enjoy that marriage, to show up and to be all in.
  • You get to show up for your children and choose it, or you can hire a babysitter. You could do a lot of things to give yourself a break from that if you really need one, to clear your mind and come at it fresh.

There are so many places where we actually have choices. And as soon as we start to think we have no choices, we are really stuck.

So, this part of the mindset system that really works is recognizing where we do have control and choice.

And secondly, to accept those areas where we don’t have choice. And to understand that people are how they are, and it’s not our job to change them or fix them. We might be able to influence them or help them, but we can’t change them or fix them. That can’t be our goal, even when parenting our children.

Mindset System Step Four: Reflect.

And number four of this system, there’s a little bit more detail to it. But basically once we take action and think through and kind of act on our mindset is to reflect.

We can do couple types of reflection:

  • One way is to look backwards and think about what went well. That helps us become more predisposed to positivity and hope in the future. So, if we notice what went well, and we start to notice how we contributed to what went well, we begin to get an overall sense of power and personal contribution. And we get less and less of that victim attitude that makes us feel like everyone else in charge is responsible for us.
  • And then not only do we look back and think what went well, but we can reflect on how we’re seeing things right now, especially compared to who we were in the past. This can be painful if we have to do a little check in to adjust that. Or it can be celebratory when we notice how far we’ve come.

And it might be like a roller coaster ride where some days, we’re really pleased with our mindset and the way we’ve developed it. And some days, we’re kind of regressing, and we’ll catch ourselves and get back on the proven system to clean up the mindset and keep moving forward.

Now, as I close out this podcast today, I talked to you about my proven system for weight loss that works for me. And I’d like to call this system of mindset, awareness and action, a proven system of mindset change that can work for you.

And it’s worked for me over and over again.

It’s critical to check in on our mindset. Because when we are not thinking about our thinking, it starts to feel like stuff just happens to us. Like there’s no way we can change patterns that keep repeating themselves over time.

And we start to feel like there’s just no hope. Mindset, awareness, and change brings lots of hope. It brings happiness and possibility. And pretty soon the more you do it, the more you’ll find you do have options, and life starts to look rosier and become rosier. And there’s a lot you can do.

I’m excited for you being on this journey of thinking about your mindset. And I encourage you to find a coach.

Coaching is a beautiful profession that may not be something you’ve heard about. A professional coach is someone who’s just trained in helping you come to this kind of awareness and use these very tools I’ve talked about in this proven mindset system that I’ve shared and apply them in your daily work and your life to make real change, so you can have more satisfaction over time and make things happen for yourself the way you’d like them to.

I thank you for being here. And I hope that you will have a wonderful week ahead being the best version of you.

This season’s theme song is “Training Day,” by Infraction. Used with Permission.