Welcome back to the Running Mind Blog!
I hope everyone has been enjoying this beautiful summer season thus far. In my last blog post, I talked about spring intentions. I hope everyone has kept those in mind and is having success or progress this summer! This month, we will dive into some deeper stuff and learn about re-training the thoughts that are ailing us.
This month’s post is a lot more personal and honest than usual, but I think it may be relatable, and thus helpful for some of my readers. This spring, leading into summer, was a little rockier than expected. I lost quite a bit of clientele due to summer vacations, and began to really stress about my finances. This journey has been so enlightening, leaving the federal government, to pursue my passion in helping others through yoga therapy, but it comes with great challenges. Although I have the love and support of my entire family and fiancé, I still let my mind run all over the place about how I am never going to make it in this industry, and constantly fearing failure. I started using a scarcity mindset, convincing myself that I did not have enough, that I was not enough. This lead to mental stress which led to physical stress and I started having gastrointestinal issues as a result. Boy, is that brain powerful (and living in my stomach LOL)! In addition to stomach issues, I also had vertigo for a straight two weeks, every day. Instead of accepting it right away, I stressed about it and feared for my health and well-being, which kept it coming back each day.
Once I made a few doctors’ visits and learned, once again, there is nothing wrong with me, I knew the culprit. I take my stress on physically and it needed to end (this was not the first time)! Each time I felt pain in my stomach or vertigo behind my eyes and noticed myself starting to get tense, I would stop and accept it. By accepting the pain, I mean to say that I resisted the urge to question it and focus on it. It is a really hard task when you are in discomfort, but it helps if you come up with a little mantra or saying. I came up with one that is really helpful for me, and that I still use:
“I accept the things that I cannot change, and I let go of the things that are not serving me.”
So what about when those questions about the future pop up? I’m still low on work and that anxiety doesn’t just disappear. I had to re-train my thoughts around how I think about it. The usual conversation with myself would go something like this:
“I only had x amount of clients this week, I am not enough, I will never be enough. What will happen next week?”
Instead of torturing myself with this negative self-talk, I started talking back to it. These are called counter statements. You have to first become aware of how you are speaking to yourself; this alone can take a few weeks. Once you are tuned in and noticing the negative self talk, you can begin to construct counter statements to prove those statements wrong. My therapist always referred to this as, “putting your thoughts on trial.” So, to my statement above, I may say something back like, “I am doing all I can and I am enough.” Another thing that has really helped me with these types of “uncertainty” thoughts is allowing myself to have a question mark there. I am allowing myself to not know what will happen in a few weeks and to be okay with it for now. Uncertainty is a HUGE fear for most people with anxiety. So, a good exercise for these types of thoughts is trying to allow and permit uncertainty, and learning it is not going to kill you. It will probably make you stronger. You can also ask yourself, “What will happen if I do not know the answer today? Will I survive and make it to next week? What about next month?” The answer most likely YES, you will make it to next year even if you don’t have these answers right now.
Another area that these counter statements are super helpful, is with body image. I have had some form of body dysmorphia my whole young adult life. When I am stressed, I will start to pick on myself a little and be much more critical. Self-love has always been my biggest lesson, and I know to be a great yoga therapist, I must really love myself first. When I tuned in to how I was talking to my body during this stressful time, I realized it was so ugly. I began catching myself saying something unpleasant about my stomach and would write it down and then write a counter statement. These counter statements do not have to be overly positive, in fact they can simply be neutral. But, each time you shift the thought, you are re-training your brain. I will continue to work with these for a while, but over the past few months, I have noticed that my relationship to my body has really improved. I no longer let myself get away with saying anything nasty about my body. Even if I say it, I will quickly respond with, “that is not true.” This simple switch to acknowledging something as untrue goes a long way. The body really does hear everything the brain says, and being ugly to yourself will not help your body change, but will probably keep it from getting healthier. The mind-body connect is so strong! This is the first time in my life where I have actually felt confident, all around, about my body. I always knew I was strong, could run far, and lift heavy things, but for the first time in probably 15 years, I love my body.
I want to make an important distinction between loving my body and being attached to it. My shape is going to shift over the years, and if I am attached, I will suffer (like I did for so long). I am instead, attached to the unchanging parts of myself, that help me stay healthy and free. These past few months have helped me realize that self-love and patience are virtues I need to continuously be working towards. Life has some powerful lessons, if you are listening, you can hear them!
In the photo to the left, I was pretty anxious, suffering with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and totally at war with my body. The photo on the right was taken yesterday. In my own personal experience, when my mental state is good, my body feels good, too. We are not our bodies, but we should be nice to them, no matter what shape they are.
I encourage anyone experiencing negative self-talk to start using counter statements! Write them down at first, it keeps you accountable. After you write the statement down, decide how true it feels (scale of 1-10). Next, create a counter statement that dismisses the original thought. Lastly, how much do you believe the original negative thought now (scale of 1-10)? Over time, you will automatically be able to counter the negative thoughts without writing them down, and that my friends, is re-training your brain. Powerful stuff!
Feel free to connect with me if you have any questions/ comments! I also recently launched a professional website for my services, check it out!
FB: Namastay Fit