“Do you go to the gym because you hate your body? Or do you go to the gym because you love your body?” Lisa, a registered dietitian and the founder of The Well Necessities, recently asked this question; I was intrigued. On the surface, as long as I am going to the gym, who cares why I go to the gym. But, emotionally and psychologically the answer to this question changes my experience and my relationship with fitness and healthy living. I can head to the gym with excitement, passion, and joy, or feel like I am being pushed or dragged toward the gym door.
This question applies to many areas of our life, particularly in romantic relationships. We need to ask ourselves; why do we do what we do? Is it to avoid a consequence? Or are we driven by self-love?
We spend much of our life making decisions based on avoiding consequences. Can you stop and ask yourself “Why do I (fill in the blank)?”
Do you buy flowers because you love your wife/husband and the two of you as a couple?
Do you buy flowers because you know she/he will be upset?
Are you going to therapy to heal from your sexual transgressions because your relationship is important to you?
Are you going to therapy to heal from a sexual transgression because you can’t stand the guilt you’re living with?
Are you spending time with your kids because you cherish them?
Are you spending time with your kids because you do not want to be a bad father/mother?
The behavioral outcomes (i.e. you bought flowers) are the same, yet the emotional experience is vastly different. If we make decisions and do things because we are avoiding consequences, we never truly connect to the emotional benefits of our actions. Making a choice out of willingness - rather than avoidance - allows us to be immersed in the experience. Most importantly, the choice will feel natural and effortless.
Sara Schapiro-Halberstam, LMHC is a licensed mental health counselor in NYC, where she provides individual counseling and intimacy counseling. You can contact Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org and read more blog posts at www.mwr.nyc