One practice I have mastered over my years in recovery is "thought-stopping." Here are the steps as I walked them through my morning:
1. Triggering event (caught a glimpse of my naked self stepping into the shower)
2. Recognized my first negative thought of the day (had to do with age and gravity)
3. Did a quick validity test: Is it kind? Is it true? Is it helpful? (no, no, and hell no)
4. Remembered a quote from AA "the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind rather than in his body."
5. Focused my attention on my true life purpose (to be of maximum service to God and the people around me.)
6. Gratefully received 25 positive thoughts (and future blog topics) before breakfast.
That carried me all day until I was standing in line at the airport behind a woman who has what I want (youth, beauty, size next-to-nothing, and a terrific sense of fashion.)
Caught myself comparing and critiquing everything from her perfect pedicure to her dyed roots. (God, I hate admitting I still do that sometimes.)
So what was my solution?
Steps 1-5 above. It works every time!
I would like to introduce you to my "Committee" - the internal dialog that handles daily operations for Kim, Inc.
Some people call it Monkey Mind - that thing that makes meditation so damn hard.
The Committee runs in the background most of the time, autonomously and without challenge. Research suggests that the human brain has roughly 70,000 thoughts per day. If you are anxious or depressed, it's more than that.
80% of those thoughts are negative. Whoa. Guess that answers the question I was going to ask you today. Do you think life is a problem to be solved or an adventure to be experienced?
Every once in awhile, my "Committee" breaks into my consciousness with a particularly harsh observation or self-criticism that is designed to keep me small. Insignificant. Self-absorbed. Ineffective.
It's all about control, you see. And the Committee knows my vulnerabilities better than anyone.
Today I erased 27 books from my Kindle. Everything that remotely suggested I'm not good enough unless I do it the author's way.
Self-help is a lie. The only reason we try to do it alone is because we're carrying shame. We beat ourselves up with perfectionistic demands that neither attainable nor sustainable.
I know from experience that the way to break shame is by breaking silence. Please join me in compiling an exhausive list of Committee complaints so those who follow may not be so burdened.
"You're not ____________ enough."
Nothing is ever enough when you're empty inside.
It takes more energy to suppress an emotion than it does to feel it. Stored emotions keep us stuck.
Number 13 in our series of 25 tips is: talk it out. We break shame by breaking silence. We may have written about things that have been buried for a very long time. But keeping it to ourselves means it keeps bouncing around in our brain.
I’m always surprised at how hard it is to just tell the truth about myself. To God, to myself, and to another human being. Without tweaking it so I look good.
We need a witness to our journey, to our triumphs and our failure. That’s where a trusted friend becomes so critical.
One guideline for selecting a safe person is to pick someone who will understand your story, but will be unaffected by what you have to say. Often times that’s why people use 12-step sponsors or paid counselors rather than family members of their safe person.
Who do you trust?
I've said before that I was as addicted to diets as I am to food. (We'll tackle the subject of what we say after "I am" another day.)
So today, I decided to sweep the diet mentality out of my mind as surely as if I were cleaning my kitchen of all the forbidden foods before a diet - so I wouldn't be tempted.
I am stunned by how many diet triggers I have willingly placed in my world. Just look at what I deleted from my Iphone while cleaning the kitchen of my mind. And that's just the apps...you should see the books I pulled from Kindle!
1. Virtual Gastric Band Hypnosis
3. Instant Fitness
4. Heart Rate Monitor
5. Charity Miles
6. Red Robin Customizer
7. Hybrid Plan X
8. Juicer, the Juicing App
9. 101 Juice-Fast Recipes
10. Simply Yoga
11. Situps Coach
12. Weight Watchers Mobile
14. Pedometer GPS
15. Habit Maker, Breaker
16. Meal Logger
17. Fit Day Mobile
18. Paul McKenna - I Can Make You Thin
20. Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker
21. Customizable Hypnosis
22. Weight Loss Hypnosis
23. Body Media FIT
24. Hundred Pushups
27. Gym Buddy
28. Happy Weight
29. Walk 'n Play
30. Diet & Food Tracker by SparkPeople
31. Cardio Workout Music
32. Nike Training Club
33. Lose It
34. IPump Workout
35. BeatBurn Treadmill
36. Daily Count
And the one I'm having withdrawal from today:
37. My Fitness Pal - where I have religiously logged everything that has gone into my body for way too long, calculating every calorie, carb and fat gram.
Today, I practiced prayerful presence. Every time a diet thought came through (list to follow later this week, I'm sure) I consciously replaced it with this phrase, "That's how a dieter thinks/talks/acts. I am not a dieter. I am free of that."
For all of your reading along with me, welcome to my inner sanctum where "the Committee" apparently is still alive and well. Please share your thoughts as we go, there is absolutely strength in numbers.
I am leading a retreat in late summer for compulsive overeaters. The topic is "Live Your Dreams Without Drama."
As I was prayerfully considering how to be of maximum service to this group and allow the Spirit to move through me to touch the most lives, a course began to reveal itself.
The thing most addicts try to cover and hide from view is shame. Another word for that is vulnerability. We hate to be vulnerable.
The life motto of every HFA (highly functioning addict or alcoholic) I know is "Never let 'em see you sweat." I would add, "Never let 'em see you cry."
They say people teach what they most need to learn. My saying "yes" to every opportunity has taught me a lot.
I'm on a 90-day adventure to vulnerability. We're going to be talking about feelings, conforming, diet mentality, simple steps, and transformation.
Who's with me?
We are all story tellers. Our minds are wired to make sense of what we see, feel and experience around us. Every event is run through the filter of our own particular set of beliefs to draw a conclusion that makes sense to us.
Do you see yourself as hero or villian? Or victim? Listen to the conversation inside your head - what kinds of things do you tell yourself about who you are, how life works, and who is in control?
Write about what’s bugging you. Write about what you’ve already tried. Write about what worked and what didn’t work. Write about why it did or didn’t work. That should get you started.
Writing seems to bypass the story and allows us to bridge that 12-inch gap between our head
and our heart. Between what we believe and how we feel. Today let's think about the story we've created and what is true about our life.
Kim Halsey is a human resource professional and executive coach who helps people overcome life damaging habits, restore important relationships, and live their dreams without drama.
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