Challenging Our Stories
If you haven’t read part one of this post, please do so before you continue with this one.
Now, if you’ve done any personal development work, you learned pretty fast that we can’t control our triggers – things that give us flashbacks or bring up something we aren’t quite sure what the heck is going on up there in our noggin’. No matter how many times I meditate on my body and send love to all these areas of my body I have been trained to hate by society’s standards, things still pop up – like the photo incident in Part 1. So when these feelings we aren’t quite sure about come out of the woodwork, what do you want to do? Instantly, you want to play Whack-A-Mole and beat all those feelings down with a mallet. Bam, Bam Bam!
I’ve played Whack-A-Mole so many times with my thoughts, I want to save you some mental and emotional exhaustion. Whack-A-Mole feels good but it does not last. The more you try not to think about something, the more it appears in the mind and the more frustrated you get with yourself and more Whack-A-Mole you play – and on and on it goes. It’s tempting to play Whack-A-Mole with our old thoughts.
“Ugh, get out of here! I love my body now, so scram! BAM!”
“Stupid anxiety, nothing like that is going to happen! Beat it!”
That works sometimes, as I wrote in a previous post about challenging my anxiety, and other times it might not. My anxiety is a continuous thing, but body positivity is something I thought I had conquered, which is why I’m writing about this more in-depth. It’s a reminder for me and for others that no matter how much work we do, things will still come up and when they do, we can’t give up. We redirect our effects to something more like this conversation:
You: Okay, I don’t like the way I was talking to myself – What am I feeling that triggered those old feelings?
Brain: You’re feeling disgust and frustration with yourself for not eating healthier and working out more. You just need to try harder.
You: Why do I need to try harder?
Brain: Because everyone is watching you, expecting you to be toned and thin. You know what you need to go to lose weight, you’re just too lazy.
You: Why do I need to lose weight? I am healthy, my blood work says so. Having extra skin doesn’t mean I less worthy. Why can I tell my friends they look good but not myself?
Brain: That’s different. They are your friends. You hold yourself to a higher standard. You really need to get back on the diet pills or maybe those wraps.
You: I may have used to hold myself to a higher, ridiculous standard but that’s not me anymore. You’re just an old story trying to come back. I see you. I don’t need diet pills anymore. I’m healthy and worthy just as I am on right now. I’m in a new chapter and those older stories aren’t welcome.
Brain: … okay fine, so what’s for dinner?
I know, I know, It sounds nuts to talk to yourself like this but honestly, you HAVE to challenge your thoughts. When you challenge, you start rewiring and recategorizing experiences in your brain. Read any book about someone’s recovery of addiction, anxiety, depression, etc. – they are still working on it, every day. It’s a daily committment to just challenge the BS – bit by bit.
It seems monotonous but it works and it’s worth it. Picture your thoughts like a bubble and you’re gently tapping on it, watching it burst and disappear. Will you be able to catch every thought? No, you can’t catch-all your negative thoughts at once. That’s just another exhausting version of Whack-A-Mole. Just when you notice it, gently challenge the thought with three questions to get the conversation going:
What is this I’m feeling?
Why am I feeling this?
What can I do to feel better about this?
See what comes up but remember it will probably say something ludicrous, embrace it, laugh it off and let it go. If it brings up some stuff you’re not sure how to handle – this is where reaching out to a friend or a therapist comes into play. Go to a professional if you need to, pretty please with a cherry on top.
Think how many times you have talked yourself out of something, say an expensive top you didn’t really need. That proves right there that you can challenge your thoughts and win. It’s a consistent battle, but once you start challenging it gets easier. Triggers still happen but if you can challenge your brain once, you can challenge it again and again – with compassion and openness.
Like I said earlier, sometimes the harsher words to yourself work but other times we need to give ourselves compassion and not berate ourselves when triggers show up out of nowhere and bring up stuff we thought we had conquered months or years ago.
Want another fun technique to call your brain out on its BS? Write it down. Ask yourself what you are feeling and why and just let your brain take over the pen and scribble it out onto paper. Once its all out of your head and onto paper, you can really see how ridiculous some of it is. Your brain gets thousands of tidbits of information every day and what you put in your brain is what you get out.
Input = Output. Negativity In = Negativity Out
I’m not saying you have to watch fluffy bunnies and rainbow shows all the time but be mindful of what you read, see and listen to – pay attention how you feel when you watch listen or do anything. Awareness is the beginning, once you’re aware of things going on inside your head, you’re breaking through and making change.
You will get tired – bone tired. No one says you have to go full speed on this. Go at your own pace with this. This is not a sprint. We all heal and grow differently.
Celebrate your progress – every teeny, tiny bit. Not up to dealing with your baggage? That’s okay, too, just know that it’s all connected (mind, body, soul) and if you want doors to open up in one area of your life, you may have to work through other areas of your life first before you move forward in other areas.
You deserve to move forward. You are not your thoughts. You can do this. You are not alone. I am with you. Let’s leave old stories behind in the new chapters we are writing.
If you would like to talk to me about this on a more personal level, I’m starting a new chapter that I’m excited to share. I am offering mindfulness coaching!
Basically, I will help you become more aware about what’s happening inside that beautiful brain of yours and help guide you in your personal development journey. Lets work together (we all need an accountability partner) to help you become more aware and grow!