Dealing with the attitude trap of thinking in imperatives

An imperative is a word that implies urgency or an authoritative command.

Imagine a teacher saying “You must ask for my permission before stepping out of the classroom.” She is using an imperative. Other imperative words include: “always”, “should” and “never”.

Most of us have vocabularies that are liberally sprinkled with imperatives. In your weight loss journey with Slim.in, be aware that imperative words could pave the path to trouble!

“I will never eat another pizza in my life.”

“I must never skip a single day at gym again.”

“I will always stay away from ice cream.”

“I will eat just soup for dinner for the next 3 months.”

Such thoughts can really mess up with your ability to control your behaviour. For example, if you exceed your slims on a Saturday, you could recover if you retain your control over your behaviour. But if you are in the habit of imperative-thinking, you can get deeply disappointed in yourself, and lose sight of your positive accomplishments.

The good news is that like any other habit, the habit of imperative thinking too can be changed.

How Ashok countered his imperative thinking

Seemingly simple resolutions

Ashok is a 42-year-old finance professional living in Bangalore with his wife and ten-year-old son. A keen cricketer in his college days, Ashok started gaining weight in his mid-thirties, as a result of a tough work schedule that resulted in missing out on his daily cricket practice session.

When he signed up for weight loss, Ashok made what he thought were 3 simple resolutions.

  1. “I love chocolate and this is a basis for my weight gain. I will not even look at a bar of chocolate until I lose my first fifteen kilos.”
  2. “I was a sportsperson, my body is already trained. So all I will do is to wake up every single morning and go for my jog without fail.”
  3. “Along with exercise, diet needs controlling. I will only have salad for lunch every day.”

Spot the imperatives?

Ashok’s weight loss plan was quite rigorous and it resulted in a significant weight loss of five kilos in the first two months. However, in these months, Ashok had missed his morning jog on several rainy days. He ate a few bars of chocolates and also had some heavy lunches.

Because of the way Ashok had articulated his goals, all these common problems really troubled him. While the truth was that Ashok was making significant strides in his weight loss journey, he started questioning the value of it all.

Re-stating the resolutions

If Ashok had attended slim.in, he would have learned to counter his imperative thinking:
1. “I love chocolate and this is a basis for my weight gain. I will try my best not to eat chocolates. If I do once in a while, so long as I stay within my slim.in allowance, I am still on track”
2. “I was a sportsperson, my body is already trained. I will wake up every morning and go for my jog. If for some reason I miss out, I will solve whatever problem kept me from going for my jog and try harder to go again the next day.”
3. “Along with exercise, diet needs controlling. I will try and keep a balanced diet and plan ahead to avoid going over my daily limit.”

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