Thoughts and Reflections on Changing My Mind
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
January was a bumpy start to the year! I spent most of it sick and also struggling--struggling against some old tapes, old habits, beliefs about myself that haven't been updated, mucking through some challenging relationships and interactions, and just generally beating myself up for not doing anything perfectly enough. Man, I can be a meanie (to me) when I want to be!
So here, nearing the end of February, I found myself desperately needing a break--so I took one! I have the luxury of work that can travel with me and the luxury of a set of parents who have a second home--a cabin in the woods on the border between PA and NY, so that's where I took myself (and the dog!) for a little retreat. It was just what I/we needed.
I've worked, yes. But I've also read through magazines, finished a bunch of books I'd started and not completed, gone for both long and short runs, hiked, taken long walks with the dog, laughed at mindless sitcoms, meditated, done hours of yoga, and I've written out some thoughts and feelings that needed a little space and air.
Challenging old, outdated beliefs about ourselves is useful, necessary work in and of itself. But what I'm finding is that if I don't at least TRY to come up with new, positive ways to think or believe about myself, then I'm just left with empty spaces--empty spaces that those negative beliefs eventually creep back in and fill up. To really clear out that heavy, dark, problematic negative gunk I've wasted too much time carrying around, I've got to start picking up some positive stuff instead!
Yes, granted. But I'm working on it. Or working THROUGH it. When I first tried to think of some believable positive things, I felt corny, cheesy. Then I felt like I might throw up. When I've tried in the past and felt this way, I've given up. I've waited it out this time. Turns out, much like detoxing, when you get through the initial discomfort, everything feels a little clearer and... well, more positive.
Here are some positive things I'm learning to believe about myself:
1) I am imaginative. My imagination helps me creatively approach my work, helps me keep the mundane fresh and interesting, helps me to be a good cook, and keeps me playful. Good stuff.
2) I am strong. I can carry a lot--emotionally and physically--and I DO.
3) I am a hard worker. Every degree program and every job I've ever done--whether professional or personal--I've devoted 100% of my effort to it. I don't give less than all that I've got.
4) I am brave. I step outside of my comfort zone and try new things. This bravery has helped me leave jobs and relationships that were draining, helped me to lose 145+ pounds, and has allowed me to know myself in an increasingly deeper way.
5) I am capable of deep love and love well. I let people in, risk being hurt to experience true intimacy, and care for people from a true and genuine place.
Still working on those bodily-related ones. The big meanie inside still wants to tell me I'm fat and ugly and miserably awful (and I'm ashamed about that since there is some rational part of me that knows that's not 100% true and because I would NEVER be so harsh about ANYONE ELSE's body--EVER). But thinking of myself in any sort of positive capacity is a helpful, healthful start for me, and I know the other stuff will come. I'm committed to keep working on it, especially because it has dawned on me that changing my thinking will take just as much intention and legwork as changing my physical body took--why would it be any other way?
So tomorrow I wrap up my time on my self-designed retreat, pack up the dog and the car and head us on home. I miss my husband and will be grateful to see him. The missing itself feels like a gift. Grateful to have the time and space--and the courage--to give myself what I need. A change in physical scenery is sometimes the best way to get a change in emotional scenery!