27 July 2014
As well as our genetic inheritance, our early life experiences have an enormous influence in who we become as adults. However, they do not determine our future entirely, and the decisions we make every day matter.
I have seen this in my own life over the last year, as I decided to change from being fat person to being thin. I made this the theme for my twentieth "Thought for the Week" on BBC Radio Manchester this morning. You can read it below. My key message is:
Ask yourself two questions.
There is a famous saying from the Jesuit religious order. “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man.”
I can see this in my own life. I still remember a bit of what I was like at the age of seven. I still have many of the behaviours I had at seven, both good and bad.
However if that was all there was, life would be very depressing. The idea that you are fixed in stone at the age of seven is horrible. The good news is that all of us can change.
Sometimes the change is very dramatic. Most of us know the story of Saul of Tarsus. He saw a vision of Jesus while he was on the road to Damascus. Instantly he changed from someone who persecuted Christians into a man who spent the rest of his life spreading the Gospel of Jesus.
We can change in smaller ways, but almost as dramatically. Let me share something that happened to me a year ago.
Almost all my life I have been overweight. Sometimes I was plump. At other times I was just plain fat. For decades, I pretended to diet, while my weight went up, quite slowly but also quite steadily. A year ago, for the first time, my annual medical found elevated blood glucose. Suddenly the risk of diabetes wasn’t theoretical. It was staring me in the face.
Instantly, I decided to lose a serious amount of weight. I set a firm target of the exact weight I wanted to get to. I counted calories rigorously. I weighed myself every day. Month by month, my weight has dropped. Last week I reached my target.
I know I will never go back to being fat, because I like being thin. When I visualise myself now, I see myself as thin.
Nobody has to be a prisoner of the Jesuit saying. If you want to change, just ask yourself two questions.