The book “Switch” addressed the idea of change and how it can be accomplished in a variety of situations and examples. They pared change down to the relationship between a metaphorical:
- elephant (the emotional part of ourselves)
- rider (our thinking, analytical selves) and,
- the path (the environment and situation we find ourselves, aka life)
We, as thinking and analytical beings, tend to think that we are in control and basically smarter than we really are (the riders). In reality we tend to be much more emotionally driven, reactionary beings going off thousands of years of survival reflects (the elephants).
So no matter how much or how hard the rider might pull on the elephant to steer clear of danger or unproductive actions the elephant is too powerful and will eventually rampage in whatever direction it wants to go. Unless we shape the path to make it impossible for the elephant!
So, for us with IBD, if we happen to know that a certain food might trigger a negative response we simply do not have that food in the house. If ice cream makes us regret eating it, shape that path and do not have it in your house. Your elephant no longer has to practice crazy amounts of self-control with the rider frantically pulling on the reins to avoid eating the offending lactose-laced sweet. You simply shaped the path that made eating that ice cream virtually impossible in that moment.
This can work in a more positive focus as well. If you desire to start being more active shape that path. Make it virtually impossible to get out of bed or leave the house without doing some form of exercise.
You do not have to rely on willpower or constant self-monitoring. Just find a way to make it as easy as possible to do more of what you want to do. Give yourself the chance to go on auto-pilot with your daily healthy routine.
Watch this Youtube video called “Video Review for Switch by Chip and Dan Heath” about change. How could you help your elephant?