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Challenging old, outdated beliefs about ourselves is useful, necessary work in and of itself.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!

Not. Easy.

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!

Be well.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I realize I'm about a year and a half behind, but I love this post. Honestly, reading your thoughts, it seems like I'm reading my own journal. You are reflective in a way that feels very familiar to me. I think I'm going to do some writing about my own strengths...something I've done in the past, but it's been way too long. I feel disconnected from the positive things about myself. Thank you so much for sharing this part of yourself!
    2014 days ago
    Don't feel ashamed of your thoughts and feelings. You're human! And you're amazing! emoticon
    2563 days ago
  • CHIFANG130
    I really enjoy reading your posts. You should definitely be a writer or a motivational speaker. I went back to read your previous posts and always find them very helpful. Thanks for taking the time to share. emoticon
    2601 days ago
    That is great stuff. Keep up the good work when you get home!

    2619 days ago
    A comment from your latest Spark Friend. I look forward to your future blogs!
    2619 days ago
    It takes alot to make me cry..something I havent done in a long time, and this post brought me to tears!!! I can relate to the negative self hate. You are truly an inspiration emoticon
    2628 days ago
    Great blog!
    2628 days ago
    beautiful. this is a wonderful post, i'm SO with you on so many levels. you are such a wonderful and smart woman!! love ya!
    2639 days ago
    I would LOVE to be able to do that!
    But it took courage and the ability to realize that's what you needed.
    Good for you!
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    2639 days ago
    A suggestion for the bodily-related things that the big meanie is still bugging you with.

    If you don't have them, invest in a bunch of mirrors. Put them in every room so that you are always catching sight of your tiny reflection. The more you see that you are no longer overweight, the sooner you will start to think of yourself as smaller.

    That and a few strategically placed pictures of the new you (like on your desk at work) should help you make the mind change from thinking you are fat and ugly to accepting what you look like now, which is a real hot cutie.

    I know that you will eventually succeed in changing your mindset.

    2641 days ago
    emoticon You know what you need to do and you're facing it and getting on with it!! You are strong and have found a great way to get at the root of a problem and work on it honestly. Great blog! You keep up the great work! Don't forget, you only have one you, so be nice! You deserve all the best!!! emoticon
    2641 days ago
    A lot of brutal honesty in that blog. I'm sure it was difficult to share. I'm glad you're making progress on the road to being kinder to yourself.

    2642 days ago
  • FREES1
    great post and great insights!

    how about adding that you are tenacious - you knew your goal and you've stuck with it until you achieved it... you find you still have some dissatisfactions and you are sticking with what it takes to become satisfied... (not perfect - totally unreal aspiration)

    and.......... do your parents rent??? ;-) sounds as though you found the as-close-to-perfect-as-possible retreat place!

    thanks for sharing
    2642 days ago
  • JENNYR0506
    Your thoughts on the 'physical' you really struck me.

    "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)."

    I came across a quote that I really love by CS Lewis. I use it on my signature line on Spark. "You don't have a Soul. You are a Soul. You have a body." Our core, our essence is our Soul. Our body is just a container for that Soul. Don't give the container more power than it deserves.

    Your Soul is telling you how wonderful you are, hence, the 5 positive things you are finding out about yourself. Keep listening to that positive voice inside you!

    Great blog!

    2643 days ago
  • KANOE10
    That was a wonderful post. You are right about needing time to focus on yourself and to work on positive goals. Losing 145 pounds is such an accomplishment! You are creating a new positive life!

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    2643 days ago
    Oh I so know what you mean about those voids that are left when we clean out the negative talk. If they aren't filled up with something good, the garbage slowly fills them back up. Good for you for taking some time for yourself and making a list of positives. That is really hard to do and is easily put off or not taken seriously enough. The body image thing is really really hard and is a constant battle. Be kind to yourself friend:) emoticon
    2643 days ago
    How awesome that you recognize you need your me time and then be able to take it. I am happy to hear it was positive experience and I appreciate you sharing that with us. Your blogs are always so uplifting. Thank you!
    2643 days ago
    Glad you got the chance to slip away for a bit of introspection. How much we grow both good and bad yet don't have time to recognize the changes as they occur. Hats off to you for having the courage to look within and to your husband for giving you the space to do so. Be well and tell yourself every day that you are just perfect the way you are.
    2643 days ago
    Kudos for you for just taking the time to get away and face these emotions head on. If I didn't already know that you are one brave chick, reading this blog is a resounding affirmation of that. You're an inspiration to me because you're so real with your thoughts. Not just cherries and smiles, but the nitty gritty things that most people want to sweep under the covers and lock the door and throw away the key. I know everyone has their own cross to carry and their own ways to deal with things but it always seems like you do it in a peaceful and loving way. Albeit whatever gets you to having to deal with these adverse feelings in the first place may not always seem like a peaceful road to you. But I'm thankful to always read your blogs because it reminds me that I'm not alone. Self deprecation is a terrible way to be and I say to myself, "schen get a grip and stop being so dramatic" but acting like it isn't a real emotion isn't much of a help either.

    I hope you and the pup had a lovely respite to get you through what ever curve ball life continues to throw. emoticon
    2643 days ago
    Your retreat sounds AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMazing!!! I need one. Can I go now too? lol!!!

    You're one awesome lady!!! Be well and enjoy seeing hubby after missing him so!
    2643 days ago
    That sounds AMAZING! I have been in a very similar funk...oh what I would give to find that kind of peace! I am working through it, but I too am a NASTY person when it comes to myself, and I can't ever imagine being that way to anyone else. It is hard to practice what I preach at times. I am happy for you. I think that it was wonderful that you were able to do that! I wish you the best as you continue to work through your thoughts and turn the positive corner! Thank you for sharing!
    2643 days ago
    That sounds wonderful. The internal work is so important. Good for you for taking the time to figure it out!
    2643 days ago
    This sounds like exactly what I need to do. Thank you for sharing!
    2643 days ago
  • KNH771
    Your retreat sounds wonderful! Maybe I need to copy you. Unfortunately, my work doesn't travel all that well. emoticon
    2643 days ago
    A wonderful post that really inspired me emoticon
    2643 days ago
    I think it's great that you were able to give yourself that gift of space and relaxation. (I'm sure that your dog loved it, too!) I'm really grateful for your blogs because I always come away from reading them feeling like I've learned something. In addition to being imaginative, you're a very insightful person. I admire your courage and honesty so much.

    And I couldn't agree more that a change in physical scenery is sometimes a fantastic way to change one's emotional scenery!

    2643 days ago
    It is important to know and be reminded that one struggles on through maintenance, and sometimes in different ways that can affect the original goal of weight-loss. You are amazing and know that what you are doing is exactly what you should be doing to get through this and build a better person- inside and out, for yourself. Looking forward to hearing more about your maintenance journey :)

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    2643 days ago
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