Read: James 5:12; 3:1-12
• The same thing that causes you to show up for others (even when you don't feel like it) also causes you to not show up for yourself.
• OWNING it is a daily practice, like strengthening a muscle.
Has someone ever asked you to do something, like bake cookies or meet for coffee on a really busy week, and you automatically agree without thinking… only to regret it later?
But instead of backing out or not showing up, you do what you said you would (even if you resent it).
Our passage from James today perfectly illustrates the power our words have over our entire bodies. When we control one, we can control the other.
I can hear you now, “But wait, Gerilyn, I say I’m going to exercise and eat better ALL THE TIME. But I never do. What about that?!”
There’s a game going on all around you that, when you know the rules, you can play to your advantage. The same rule that causes you to show up for other people, can also keep you from showing up for yourself.
It’s not some crazy thing that some people have, but others don’t.
It’s a skill you can learn. And practice every single day with something you’re already doing - talking.
It’s called The Consistency Principle
The consistency principle drives you to follow-through on your external commitments, even when you don’t want to, but it’s also what causes you to not follow-through and/or give up on your goals and intentions when it comes to eating well, exercising, and doing what’s good for you.
Let me explain.
As humans created in the “likeness of God” we are relational at our core. We need other people, family, groups, and community in order to thrive. We need to belong. Belonging is built on trust. And trust is built on consistency.
When our words match our actions, we are seen as honest strong women of integrity. But when we say one thing, but do another it breeds mistrust, confusion, and doubt. We might be called “two-faced” and not given more responsibility. No society can function well with too much inconsistency.
Politicians are great examples. They say one thing, do another, and I dare you to name one person you know who has faith and trust in the government.
Consistency also makes decision-making simpler. Instead of considering each new choice, opportunity, or request each day with the same amount of attention, thought, and consideration, we automatically go with what we’ve chosen in the past. Eerily like habits. 😉
Consistency is what gets you out of bed to go to church on Sundays after a late, late night.
Consistency is why you always arrive early (or late).
Consistency is what drives you to fulfill your work, social, and service responsibilities.
But the same thing that makes life easier is also what makes change so freakin’ hard.
Because consistency is also why you always eat the chocolate in the house.
Consistency is why you hit the couch instead of the gym.
Consistency is why you check out on Facebook instead of check in with your needs.
And if you have a precedent of saying you “should” exercise, eat well, and sleep more …
If you have a history of planning out the perfect goals, but not following-through …
If you have a habit of starting well, but falling off quickly …
If you have a practice of deceiving yourself…
… That’s consistency too.
Don’t worry. We ALL do it. You’re not bad, less than, or not enough for following the wrong consistency train in a few areas of your life.
You’re just on the wrong track and need to switch.
Get on the right consistency train by practicing your ‘yes’.
You can start building consistency in the right direction today by taking a stand to let your ‘yes’ be yes, especially with yourself.
Often we attempt to change our behaviors without changing the way we talk to ourselves, but James clearly shows how our words are like rudders that direct huge ships. Our efforts to change our actions without also changing our language is like standing on the deck of a sail boat going steadily east, but trying to use our breath to blow into a sail to change go west.
It's never gonna happen.
All week has been about OWNING your circumstances, your mindset, and your words. Now it’s time to put it into practice. You’re probably wondering, “how can I practically do this?”
Three simple things
- OWN your choices, even if it’s eating dessert, even if it’s choosing to take a nap, even if it’s exercising for 3 minutes but not 30.
Use the phrase, “I choose to __________ (engage in whatever behavior).” And then do it.
If you need to swap some things in your schedule and/or eliminate them, use the phrase, “I know I committed to going to the gym today at this time, but working on this project is more important to me right now so I’m choosing not to go. I plan to (fit in some bodyweight exercises here and here, go tomorrow at 11A, or skip today but not the next scheduled time).”
Owning your choices allows you to experience the consequences. And naked-truth consequences are self-motivating. Either you realize you never cared about whatever it was in the first place or you realize you desperately loathe the current situation and will do whatever it takes to change it. Face it to erase it.
- Commit to what you KNOW you’ll do and stop committing to what you won’t.
The reason why we’ve failed to follow-through in the past is usually because we overcommit in the beginning, and so never start, because what we’ve committed to feels like too much. You don’t have time. You’re too tired. You have too much to do. Instead start SMALL, tiny even.
This is why we start teensy weensie with our #holyhabits. To build the consistency.
Use this phrase, “I’d like to have 4 varieties of veggies in the fridge all the time, but I hate spending hours in the kitchen. This week I commit to buying pre-cut veggies or chopping 1 stalk of celery."
-Make it public. When you publicly announce a commitment towards a certain goal or practice, especially to people whose approval you want, you will take action. There's no question about it.
But your willingness to do this also can reveal how important _____ is to you.
If you are nervous, but willing to put your goals, habits, intentions out there in a big way, then you are ready to get after it.
If you're thinking, "I could never do that," then it may be time to face the reality that ______ isn't a priority for you. (And that's okay!)
You can make it public in different ways:
- An email to your closest friends and colleagues
- A post on Facebook with regular accountability checks
- With your accountability buddy
- To your boss, therapist, coach, etc.
Here's a hint: if it scares you a little bit, you should probably consider doing it.
The consistency principle is the foundation of healthy relationships, communities, and society. It’s what makes us follow-through on commitments we’d rather not, but also what keeps us digging deeper into the same ruts. When you understand the rules of consistency, however, and leverage them to your advantage, you can quickly get unstuck and move forward in your health and fitness goals.