Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lesson 7: Talking back to negative thoughts

Who has NEVER had negative thoughts? It can be a vicious cycle - bad thoughts lead to eating and non-activity, which leads to more bad thoughts. AHHH! Sometimes, we are not even aware we are having them! Trouble.

Here are common negative patterns:
1. Good vs bad. When everything tends to be divided into good or bad, success or failure, on or off a program.
2. Excuses or rationalizations. We all have these - there are always reason why we do (or don't do) something - and they are usually not our fault. It is like we have no power to control situations. Or life is just so busy there is no way we can fit a healthy lifestyle into out lives.
3. Should thoughts. These thoughts expect perfection and set us up for disappointment. These assume someone is standing over use forcing use to do things we don't want to do. e.g. I should have eaten less - or I should NOT have had that...
4. Not as good as thoughts. These thoughts compare ourselves to others and blame us for not measuring up. e.g. So and so lost 5 pounds and I have only lost 2.
5. Give up thoughts. These defeat ourselves. They often follow the other kinds of negative thoughts. e.g. This is too hard; I might as well give up.

How to talk back to negative thoughts.
1. First, catch yourself.  Is this thought moving me forward or bringing me down? As soon as you are aware of the thought - take responsibility for it. 'I am doing this to myself.'
2. Imagine yourself yelling STOP. If you are somewhere appropriate - go ahead and yell at yourself.
3. Talk back with a positive thought.

Example responses to negative thoughts.
1. Good vs bad: Talk back with 'work towards balance.'
  • Don't expect perfection, but don't indulge yourself either. Work towards a balance.
2. Excuses: Talk back with 'it's worth a try.'
  •  Instead of looking for something or someone else to blame, give yourself a chance. Try SOMETHING. You just might surprise yourself and succeed!
3. Should: Talk back with 'It's my choice.'
  • Take responsibility for your actions. You, and you alone, are in charge of what you eat and how you exercise. No one else has expectations for you. This is for you, your health and well being.
4. Not as good as: Talk back with 'everyone is different.'
  • How many times do we tell our children - it doesn't matter what others are doing, it only matters that you are trying your hardest to be a good person and to achieve your best in school/sports/etc. Hmm, maybe we should listen to ourselves! We are to be happy for other people successes and work our hardest on our own goals. (MAN, I need to remember this one!)
5. Give up: Talk back with 'One step at a time.'
  • Problem solving is a process. It takes time to make changes. Learn from what doesn't work and keep moving forward. Learning is always a success.
I always try to remember: it took years to develop these habits, it will take time to undo them too!
Good luck!

What is your strongest negative thought?

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