“Each year I commit to getting healthier, but after a few weeks I make excuses about why I can’t go to the gym today or I give in to comfort food again. I just don’t understand why I’m so weak. I can be decisive – at work, for example – but not with this.”
I hear this lament from clients frequently. Does this happen to you, too?
Crumbling intentions are such a common experience, so rest assured you are not alone. It’s perplexing when sincere intentions run out of steam after such a short while. We think we must be weak if we can’t stick to our plans.
What isn’t generally recognised is that our brain may also be working against itself. We set longterm intentions with our rational brain, which can plan, make decisions and employ will power to keep us on track despite temptations.
But immediate decisions are often made at an emotional level, through the secondary brain system found in the gut (hence ‘gut feeling’).
For many of us, the emotional brain is stronger than the rational brain, especially when it comes to sticking to personal wellbeing goals. It’s focused on what it wants now and cannot balance this against future consequences.
This is how we end up sabotaging good intentions through so-called ‘weak moments’.
Fortunately, the rational brain can be strengthened (just like using the gym to strengthen muscles) so that it is better able to hold its own.