As children, we are often told "Don't do this... Don't drop your food on the table....Don't go over there.... You can't do this or that". However, as you have probably witnessed with your own attempts at behavioural change, it is often when we tell ourselves that we cannot do something or don't have too much of something that we end up doing exactly the thing we told ourselves not to. Then what happens? We punish ourselves, just like we were punished as children.
The reason is, when we are told 'don't eat another bliss ball' a lot of the time we only register and direct our focus to the content of 'eat another bliss ball'. I can think of two examples of this... The other day one of the Woman I work with walked up to a customer and said 'Let me take those items from you, I don't want you to drop them', so she took them off the customer and what happened? She dropped them straight away! In my own experience, I know if I have made a big batch of raw vegan deliciousness (bliss balls, slices e.t.c.) and placed them in the fridge, when I go into the kitchen I have said to myself, 'Don't have another bliss ball' or 'You can't have another one'... and what happens? I walk straight to the fridge, have one and then stand there complexed as to 'What just happened?' haha.
Not only are we doing what we tell ourselves not to, we then punish ourselves and use further disempowering language, 'I am bad', 'What did I do that for', 'I am stupid', 'I am unworthy'... just like some of us experienced when we were children. Studies have shown that punishment is actually a very ineffective form of behavioural change and actually reinforces negative cyclic patterns, the more we use disempowering/restrictive language such as 'don't, can't, and the more we punish ourselves, 'I am bad, I am unworthy', the more we are reinforcing a pattern that will present itself again and again.
We are far better off empowering ourselves, celebrating our wins, practicing self-compassion, inclusion over exclusion and reinforcing behaviours that empower us and elevate us to be the best versions of ourselves. In my experience, and struggle with disordered eating, in order to distance myself from that little negative voice that enters my mind, instead of saying 'Don't listen to that voice, don't do this, you can't do that'... I know say 'Do listen to your eating disorder and then Do the opposite!'.
This also applies in the language of manifestation, instead of saying what you don't want, say and visualise and deeply feel what it is that you DO want and place your intention and attention on exactly that!
Much love xx
Em Bronte Anderson