Thanks for all your well-wishes for our trip : ) Unfortunately, it’s been kind of a rough go of it so far, but no worries — tomorrow is a new day, and I’m going to try and change my attitude from Debbie Downer Frustrated Hungry to –> Whatevs. I’ll get there. Also, sorry for being behind on comments! Our internet situation has been in.sane. I will get to them tomorrow ASAP! In the meantime, here is my fabulous bloggie friend, Erin, with a guest post for the Think This, Not That series! That will definitely turn my frown upside down. Thanks Erin! xoxo
Hi Nourishing Flourishers! I’m Erin and I write a health blog called Big Girl Feats. When Katie began writing Think This, Not That, it was as if she stole the words right out of my mouth – and put them to hilarious photoshopped pictures of Will Farrell as Mugatu. Genius? I think so.
I really connected to TTNT (it’s the new TGIF) because I, like many others, have struggled with negative self-talk, negative body image and negative thoughts for many years. I was an active child but puberty really screwed with my head, and thus, my body. I spent many years after that sedentary, sad and surly. “Why couldn’t I just be like “everyone else?” Why do I suck? Why couldn’t I be skinny? Why am I going to be like this forever??”
It wasn’t until college that I changed my eating and exercise habits, something I discussed recently on my blog. Honestly, losing 40 pounds and learning to love exercise was much easier than changing my brain. Shocker, I know. I’ve spent the last 5 years figuring out how I can remove the body bashing and negative thoughts and replace them with a positive perspective. In late 2010, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had even more reason to practice these strategies. I truly believe what you think is just as (if not MORE) important than what you eat, drink and how you move your body. Learning this has been my greatest feat. (See what I did there?).
Being the practical person that I am, I want “tips” or ways to begin to change your mind. And not Martha Stewart (love you, girl) type tips where you have to quit your job and go to beekeeping school in order to create the perfect centerpiece. These are things that I do or have done that I found extremely helpful in changing my brain to Think This, Not That. As always, do what works best for you.
1. Reading and Learning.
I started out reading books specific to my issues with food and emotional eating – people like Geneen Roth (Breaking Free From Emotional Eating) and Evelyn Tribole (Intuitive Eating). After discovering the issues were deeper, I started reading about mindfulness through Tara Brach (Radical Acceptance), Pema Chodron (Start Where You Are) And this year, Brene Brown, who talks about shame and authenticity and perfectionism, Kris Carr, Deepak Chopra and more. Hearing from experts or professionals really helped me to learn I wasn’t the only one who struggled with these things, and gave me resources for a new way of thinking. I’m also lucky to have a fabuuulous book club. We read non-fiction, professional development sort of books. Sounds lame, but it’s amazing for personal growth. I’ve found that I can pull out tidbits from so many books that relate to emotional healing and positive perspectives.
1a. I’m cheating here, but my book club made me think about something super important: Support! If we’re trying to change our minds, it’s so important to connect with others who are doing the same. That might be in person, but it can also be on a website, forum, or blog (so convenient, right?).
2. Name Her (Or Him).
I can’t recall where I read or learned this, but when you start to recognize that negative voice – name it. Literally, name the voice. By naming the voice, you recognize that it’s not actually the real you. It’s the judgemental self, the scared self, the self that’s trying to keep you from achieving your goals. Over time, you will recognize when that voice starts to pipe up.
My negative voice is named Scarlett O’Hara. That’s right.
Sometimes she’s a serious whiner. I step in front of the mirror, and Scarlett pips up. “Your thighs look HUGE! Look at those zits? Ugh! And your hair? Blech. You are definitely not ready for that presentation. And you’re not that smart anyway, so why even bother?”
I catch Scarlett and stop. I pause. I smile into the mirror. I recognize her and say “Thanks, Scarlett. But I don’t need your opinions and input right now. I’m ready. I look great. I’m smart. Love you, goodbye.” Scarlett needs to know I’m in charge and that she can’t talk to me like that. Generally I do this in my head, but if she’s REALLY persistent that day, I do it out loud. (I try to do it in the bathroom or my car; not a public location where people might wonder why I’m talking to a 1930′s fictional movie character.)
3. Snap Out Of It.
Along with naming your negative voice, I also learned a technique (from my Dad when we were trying to stop biting our nails!) that helps to recognize the voice when you start doing it. Often, we want to make changes, but we don’t even know what or when we start the negative chatter because it’s such an ingrained behavior. Wear a rubber band (or hair tie) around your wrist and snap the band when you notice you’re starting to begin negative self-talk. I’m not talking about leaving red welts on your arms that alert people you need professional help – just a little snap. This causes your mind to realize “Woah, I started doing it again. Snap. Okay. Pause.” Once you’ve recognized you were talking negatively or harshly, you can insert something positive or an affirmation in that space.
4. Identify Your Triggers.
For me, many of my triggers are food. Specifically, sugar and sweets. (Katie just posted an article about sugar in her Mix Tape [Post] of Awesomeness that is so interesting!) Ironic, because these things are foods that I gravitate towards to make myself feel better. Are we starting to see the pattern here?? I feel bad, I eat the food, I feel worse, and Scarlett O’Hara comes flying out of left field in her ginormous petticoats and Southern drawl. Over the years, I have noticed that when I eat too much sugar (not just one cookie) I literally morph right in front of my eyes. My brain changes. I become The Hulk. I’m angry, snap at people, throw the dishes into the dishwasher, and stomp around. No wonder I spent 15 years of my life, sedentary, sad and surly!?
After a few minutes, it’s gone – but it’s an incredible example as to what the sugar does to my body – and my brain. I try to avoid it as much as possible. If I overindulge, I try to do better the next meal or the next day. If you haven’t started to do so, try noticing how you feel after specific foods you eat. Or things you do (clothes shopping, comparing yourself to others, talking to a specific person). Keep a journal or note it on your blog. Pretty soon you’ll notice a pattern and those things might convince you to make some changes.
This is a big one – perhaps the biggest thing I’ve learned. My negativity, anxiety and stress forms a ball in the middle of my chest. I can bring about it’s existence with just a few negative thoughts or feelings – or, you know, a visit to the radiologist while undergoing cancer treatments. Those feelings and thoughts snowball, and pretty soon I have convinced myself I’m never going to succeed, never going to survive, and will always be (x, y or z). I have learned, through yoga, meditation, and counseling, that if I breathe into that space, I can figure out what the cause of that stress ball is. I sit and close my eyes and breathe. The initial negativity always leads me to a deeper cause; the root of why I’m really feeling that way. Plus, my body gets a boost of energy, life and renewal that it needs to keep going. Breathing never fails to change my body and my mind.
If you begin to notice, you can begin to change. Get rid of the idea of perfectionism – it doesn’t exist. Baby steps. Maybe you go from one day of no nasty self-talk to two, to three and so on. Maybe you can’t go 5 minutes yet – be patient. You will get there. I hope some of these tips are helpful in getting you to Think This, Not That. It’s worth it, and so are you!
I do declare.