Pink sings a song with the phrase “change the voices in your head, make them like you instead”… I LOVE that song because it reminds me how powerful thoughts are. It reminds me that at any given moment, I can choose my thoughts. I can’t always pick my circumstances and I have difficulty controlling my emotions once they get started but I CAN control my thoughts.
Step 1 is to start hearing the inner dialog. Don’t judge it and don’t even try to change it at first, just listen and observe it.
Step 2 is to start identifying what prompted those thoughts and decide if you want to keep them or not.
Step 3 is to re-frame the ones you want to rid yourself from into something you want to think.
In ANY circumstance, there is ALWAYS more than one way to look at it. Please understand that I’m not suggesting practicing living in denial, pretending everything is fine and glorious when it’s absolutely not. What I’m suggesting is to embrace those difficult times as a chance to grow, because they are!
Here are some demons in my head (a life coach of mine called some of them “the shame tyrant”) that pop up from time to time and the way I re-frame them (sometimes in the form of asking myself a question):
I’m not as good at ____ as her/him
My best is enough
I am enough
I have value
I messed up! (and that is TOTALLY the end of the world!!!!!!!)
I will make mistakes as I’m learning.
I HAVE to…
What does loving myself look like in this situation?
I can by…
I’m beautiful (see “I feel pretty” blog post from last year and other posts under “body image” for more on this one)
You are too fat to eat that
I am worth reaching my goals
I am loved (I have found this one to be particularly amazing because as I told myself I am loved, more people started loving me (crying happy tears as I write this))
I can’t stand _______
What is the lesson I can learn from this experience?
Running is a GREAT opportunity to practice re-framing. When working up to greater and greater distances, it shows how much time and experience change perception. I remember when 3 miles was a REALLY long ways! Now, seriously, 3 miles is a warm up (unless it’s speed work and even then, it’s a short run). I’ve run 10-11 miles the past couple of Saturdays and it feels like 5-6 used to. I’m getting stronger. In the dark moments when my joints are starting to ache and my muscles are burning a bit, I like to practice using positive thoughts to move through those times. I say things to myself like: I move with ease. I am whole. I am complete. Run like the wind, Bullseye! My legs are on fire (as a GOOD thing). I’m gliding through the air. I’m doing this. I got this! Go, girl! Look how far you’ve come! Sometimes I think about stretching out with my roller and drinking my post-workout protein shake.
Sometimes there isn’t a way to re-frame it but it’s a thought that does me no good so I envision the thought as text written in the air and imagine it floating away and dissipating. If it comes again, it dissipates as quickly as it came in. I have no use for it, so it leaves. I don’t judge that it came up, I just dismiss it. It’s not even worth thinking about the fact I thought it… goodbye…
The bible is full of stories of people who royally messed up, didn’t wait for God’s direction when they were “supposed to” and God used them anyway. Jesus came to free us of sin. We all have our burdens to bare from things outside our control, no need to add to them! If you want to feel miserable and it’s working for you, great. But know that you do not have to punish yourself. You do not have to carry a dark cloud of pain and suffering. You can take it off and let it go.
The scary part about letting go of former belief patterns is there’s a period of lost identity as you leave behind an old way and move forward in a new way. Challenges larger than ever faced before tend to show up at those times. Use them as opportunities to practice your new skills, your new thought patterns. It’s the tested quality of our faith that leads to endurance.(James 1:3)
From my heart to yours,
Thanks for reading