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Access or Ability?


When we are attempting change, seeking improvement and wanting to be better, there is a tendency to review everything in the here and now. We are all guilty of it, "I'm just not good enough" in the context of that moment; you may be right. The reality is that many of us fall short of our lofty expectations, and creating the space to deal with that high expectation and the perceived loss is a valuable skill. 


One of the questions I often pose in this conversation is: do you think you don't have the ability, or is it more a question of access to that ability at this point? Now I'm not talking about me at my height becoming an NBA player; I'm talking about real changes you want to make in your own life to improve its quality. Most of these conversations centre themselves around body image the eating experience, so let's use that as an example. 


Meet Alana; Alana is a young medical professional, competent and capable in her work which is very important in her life. The sort of person you want in your team of health professionals, she cares, is confident and capable, and has a great sense of humour. Alana recently finished up a maternity leave cover position in a department she loved! Having to go back to her old role that Alana wasn't a massive fan of and as timing would have it, her relationship that has probably been on the rocks for many years now has also come to an end. Given the context and the background, you can see this has been a period of change forced upon Alana but feeling pretty low and isolated; food became a comfort. With a relatively warped sense of reality, Alana's eating habits led her to think 'how much weight I have put on', 'how unattractive I have become', 'how far have I regressed' the 'I'm not good enough to get through this story' has grown horns! In all that emotion, we rarely get any logical air, no real perspective. The reality was that the weight gain, if any, were the same as her regular menstrual cycle fluctuations; clothes may have felt a bit tighter, but Alana was still rocking the designer labels she was before. The spring in her step and that sense of humour had quietened, though; she didn't feel like herself. Sometimes this stuff happens, and it can feel like all at once, the story we often tell ourselves is one of the half-truths and Chinese whispers. The story of her career regressing and her relationship ending had suddenly combined into a negative self-evaluation that didn't seem to end without the intervention cold rock via uber eats! But then the guilt of the act...OMG, the guilt!!!! 


Conclusions We have draw without realising it, assumptions we have made and evaluations we have rubber-stamped. The reality is at this particular point of Alana's life, with the environment she was in, Alana couldn't access her abilities that have enabled her success in the past. That sense of humour gave her that bandwidth to deal with the heavy stuff, the compassion for others in her professional work she couldn't extend to herself. It was all getting lost in this cycle of feel, eat, guilt, evaluate, repeat. To her credit, Alana has always been willing to do the work. As a coach, it's our job to align the next step with that person's current capacity, whether taking your fitness to the next level or reprioritising your health in amongst the chaos. Our job is defining and creating the space for the next step and supporting you as you step. Alana's next step in this instance: 

Instead of comparing Instagram stories and concerning herself about the future; Let's shift our gaze. Prioritise some decent rest, change nothing about your eating habits in the next seven days, complete a food/ thought diary alongside that eating. We then reviewed the thoughts that went alongside the eating experience and, importantly, started to provide her access to her abilities beyond the emotion.  


Perhaps the question to answer at the end of this one is: are your current habits a reflection of your ability? If not, how can we access that ability to change those habits? 


Yours in health,


Sean Cornish


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