How A Group Can Help You Help Yourself
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A recent read of mine called How We Change by Katy Milkman has captured an idea that I’ve been trying to articulate but couldn’t quite figure out how to convey that describes what I think of as a force multiplier in my group coaching program, Fit By Bit.
By force multiplier I mean something that, while at first glance doesn’t seem to have any special properties (in this case, a group), but in reality has effects that multiply the beneficial effect of those in the group.
And because of Katy Milkman, I now know why.
Also, before you stop reading and switch over to Instagram thinking this is a promotional post for my group, this isn’t just about my group coaching, it’s the effect of many successful group coaching programs. So even if you’re not even remotely curious about Fit By Bit, the following ideas still hold true for any group you join (health related or not).
Before I get to what I’ve been noticing on the inside of my group, I need to explain the concept from How We Change by Katy Milkman.
It’s called ‘saying-is-believing’ and is an actual psychological phenomenon that occurs “when tailoring a message to suit an audience influences a communicator’s subsequent memories and impressions about the communication topic.”
In this case, that’s psychological jargon for when you’re giving advice to someone (tailoring a message to suit an audience), you’d then feel like a hypocrite if you didn’t follow your own advice (influences a communicator’s subsequent memories and impressions about the topic).
For example, let’s say your friend asks you for advice on how you’d handle a situation at school for your child, so you tell her what you think you’d do if it were your child.
And then, it happens to your child, and you recall the advice you gave your friend, you’d likely be partial to the advice you gave her because it’d make you feel like a hypocrite if you didn’t do the thing you advised her to do.
It goes back to the broader concept of cognitive dissonance (I know there’s a lot of psychological mambo-jumbo in this post, but I promise, it’s all coming together). Cognitive dissonance is where you’re having trouble reconciling the thoughts you’re having because they’re not in alignment with who you think you are. So feeling like a hypocrite is a prime example of cognitive dissonance.
So back to the saying-is-believing part … When you give someone else advice on what you’d do in a similar situation, you’re essentially laying the groundwork for how to solve your own problem – either now or in the future.
Help Them, Help You
By sharing your advice with others, you’re essentially solving your own problem because as you give advice, your brain will be simultaneously taking your own advice.
The problems you have with getting and staying healthy aren’t because you don’t KNOW the things you need to do. I mean, let’s be real… you KNOW what eating clean looks like, you KNOW moving your body everyday is ideal, and you KNOW getting more sleep, taking better care of yourself, et cetera, et cetera are the things that will get and keep you feeling great.
So it’s not about knowing. You know.
It’s about DOING.
Which is why, when someone else asks you for advice on how to do it, you’ve got all kinds of solutions! You’re chalk full of them.
And then you realize that your struggle is because you’re likely not following your own advice (cognitive dissonance) which then prompts you to do the things you advise your friend to do.
All that is to say that when you’re helping someone with a problem that you also find yourself struggling with, you’re also (in a roundabout way) helping yourself!
Which is exactly the force multiplying effect of a group program that I’ve been having such difficulty putting into words.
Giving other people advice on a problem we’re trying to fix ourselves actually HELPS us fix it ourselves.
So when you’re in a group of people who are all trying to accomplish a similar goal or who are all on the same journey, just by weighing in to help them, you’re helping yourself. Not only do you get support FROM the others in the group, but by supporting them, you’re also further supporting yourself in your efforts.
And this is why it’s a force multiplier – it’s one act of support helping BOTH parties, multiplying the effect of the support and making it doubly powerful.
This is exactly the effect I’ve seen in my group over and over, as members chime in on a Facebook comment in support of the original poster. It has the force multiplier effect of one original post being able to help every member who contributes to the post, highlighting why having group support isn’t just beneficial when you’re asking support, but it’s also beneficial when you’re offering support as well.
Even when you think you’re helping someone else, you’re also helping yourself. And it exemplifies the reasons why having a group for support on your health journey can be a game changer.
Whatever you do, however you do it, find your people to do it with. If you’re in need of people, Fit By Bit is open for membership all year round and we’ll be here if/when you’re ready.
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