How are you? Did you practice self-love and gratitude from the last podcast? If you haven’t listened to episode 28, I highly encourage you to go listen to that first. (and a quick pause here to ask you to rate and review this podcast! Share it with one friend. Let’s get the word out! What are you waiting for?) Last week we were building the foundation for sustainable change, which is love. And specifically love of yourself. And if that felt more challenging to reach, then using gratitude. Both love and gratitude are great places from which to make change. Here we are in part 2 of the 4 part series in creating sustainable change: how to make long term change in your life with kindness.
Today we are going to talk about a piece that you may have noticed was a part of self-love: the thoughts that we have or the conversation we have in the head. This is the HOW to change not only the self-love portion, but also what you are believing (even if it isn’t critical of yourself).
If you’ve listened to my podcast at all, this probably won’t be a big surprise to you that I’m talking about the conversation in your head as a major part of change. One of the biggest changes I find that my clients need to make in moving towards health and wellness is not just the food they are eating but the conversations they are having in their head. When you change the conversation in your head to be of kindness, you change your emotions, which change the actions you take each day.
If you are wanting to make lasting change, what you say to yourself (thoughts, beliefs) is a foundational piece. So last week we were saying it starts with love. And part of love are the words that we repeat to ourselves over and over. If we think that we will be worthy is if we reach the manufactured goal (the size of the clothes we wear or the number on the scale) then that is conditional love. And this is where the challenge lies. If you have conditional love for yourself, then the conversation is different. “When you get the new job/relationship/exercise an hour a day/reach that new weight then I will love you. Then you are worthy”.
Do you see the problem here? This sets up the constant striving and the never-good-enough perfectionism that many women experience. Men have this too. It’s rampant in our society, but men’s usually isn’t about a certain clothing size, or number on a scale. Different metrics, but the SAME PROCESS.
Ok, so here we know that there is a voice in our head that says critical things. You may be saying so what? Well, this is actually what is going to help you make change. If you want to make change, you have to be telling yourself a different story, one that is rooted in kindness. You can call this flip the script, or rewriting your narrative, or self-coaching. So let’s get started.
Step 1: first you need to know what stories your mind is telling you. It might be: This is going to be hard. I’ll never be healthy. I’ve never succeeded before. If you don’t know what the stories are, I recommend getting a piece of paper and just start writing down without much thought: the things I say to myself about change (or health). It might even be things I say about myself in general. I always fail. I’m a loser. I have bad genes. It’s just part of getting old. These are the stories that we tell ourselves.
Now, you may not notice them because you think they are TRUE and therefore don’t count as stories. “I have bad genes” is a great example of this. The belief is that if my mother had heart disease/auto-immune condition/arthritis that surely I’ll have (fill in the blank) condition too. But the reality is maybe, but maybe not. You don’t know. You have to bring mindfulness and awareness to your thoughts. Write it down so you can get just that tiny bit of distance from that voice.
You might notice the voice coming in at various times during the day saying things to you that are creating or fabricating a picture. If the voice says, “It’s going to be so hard,” notice how it feels in your body when you think that. Does it feel heavy or stuck? That’s the power of thoughts. You might recognize how this tape loop is playing in your head over and over. This is all good to notice. It’s the first step to making change is noticing what is currently going on.
Step 2: Now that you have all these thoughts that you’ve written down, just pick one or maybe two that you are going to focus on. Start small. If you are like me you want to do ALL THE THINGS AT ONCE. My experience is then I get overwhelmed, forget, and I’m back to square 1. Now, take that thought and change the thought into something that is a better feeling thought that isn’t so heavy in the body.
For example, if your thought was “It’s going to be so hard,” your better feeling THOUGHT might be “I’m learning new skills“ or “I love learning new things”. “I’m willing to do something new to get a different result.” You wouldn’t go all the way to “This will be easy” because my guess is that doesn’t feel true to you. So make it something that is believable. It’s like moving one step up from where you were, but not all the way to your goal. Notice how it feels in your body. Does it feel lighter? That’s the sign that you’ve found a thought that is a better feeling thought.
Step 3: you have to practice this thought over and over again. This part sounds easy, but it is usually where my clients fall short. One thing I usually recommend is to set reminders for yourself, put a Post-it note on your bathroom mirror, or make it the lock screen on your phone. Sounds easy, but honestly this is the challenging part.
I’ve found that the more I can pair it with a habit that I already have, the more I can fold it into my daily life with ease. The more that you practice it, the stronger neural connections it makes in your brain, which means then it gets EASIER. And that’s what making a new conversation is about: creating a new conversational habit. One that is positive and supportive of you and what you want to create in your life.
Remember, this series is about creating change and setting up a life of health and wellness. It’s a new way of being: becoming a person that nourishes themselves, who listens to that still small voice that wants you to be living a vibrantly healthy life. This is all about upgrading your life. t’s a whole body upgrade. This what this series is all about; making sustainable change in your life. Small changes, big results.