Positive Mindset and Reframing our Thoughts

May 15, 2017 in Uncategorized

All I’ve done for quite awhile is focus on where I’ve failed.  All the things I’ve done wrong.  It’s been way too long since I’ve felt that I accomplished any of the goals I set for myself in the area of health.   I think we all know in extensive detail where I’ve screwed up along the way.  I’ve analyzed it to a nauseating level both in my own head and on this blog.

Analysis can be helpful but it’s getting me nowhere.

Sometimes the more you analyze a situation, the further away you get from any real solution.

My mother used to call it “analysis paralysis”!

I have, however, done two things in the past month which have helped me a great deal.   Number One?  I got back on antidepressants.  The black cloud permanently resting over my head just wouldn’t go away.  I couldn’t think it away or pray it away.  It was becoming a permanent fixture.

But for the first time in awhile I feel a shift in that realm.  THANK GOD!

 Secondly, I went back to counseling.  Sometimes you just hit a mental wall and it helps to get a different perspective.  Working with a counselor who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy has made a big difference.   I have always found the tools and techniques of CBT (when applied) to be effective in creating shifts in my thinking.  Putting them into action can still feel difficult sometimes.

 We developed a game plan and it consists of two things.  First, stop focusing on all the things I’m doing wrong.   The majority of my posts on here over the past year or more have roughly been nothing more than a rehash of each and every way I’ve failed with my health goals.   My writing in that way is merely a reflection of what’s really going on in my head every day.  Tapes playing over and over again in a loop.  Negative self talk and condemnation.   So yeah..goal #1. STOP THAT!  Amazing advice, isn’t it?

I’m tired of cycling in and out of various scripts which I play again and again in my head.  The litany of blame and guilt that I lay at my feet every day.  I’ve screwed up.  I’ve failed countless times.  And I constantly slip into bouts of self-hate that are helping no one.    Accepting responsibility for where you fail or mess up in life is not a bad thing if it leads to positive change.   Bashing yourself every day and telling yourself repeatedly what a piece of crap you are? That leads to nothing more than depression.   It definitely doesn’t promote positive thinking! It doesn’t make you feel capable of making good decisions.  If anything, it leads you right back into bad habits.

I’m ready to move on.   But in order to do that, I have to take control of my thoughts.   And that takes effort.

 Self care and positive self talk is an important skill but if you’ve been failing at it for awhile–it’s time to fire yourself as your ‘counselor’ and hire someone who can do the job!  I have discovered myself to be poorly qualified for the task!!  I’m the worst therapist that ever existed when it comes to counseling myself!  While I have a high level of compassion for others, I seem to have very little for myself.  If anything, I’m often my own worst enemy.

I used to monitor my thoughts carefully making a concerted effort to not fall into negative thinking.  For a long time, though, I’ve utterly failed at this task choosing instead to fall headfirst into a depressive mindset.   Often I feel like someone who has the GPS in hand with a full tank of gas but can’t get out of the driveway to save my life.   When I was a kid, we would play Pin the Tail on the Donkey.  In Texas, we use a pinata.   You’re blindfolded and then spun around. Once you’re disoriented, you blindly start swinging in the air and see if you can make the hit.  It’s hard to do when you’re dizzy and blindfolded.  And that’s basically how I’ve been feeling about life.

Sometimes you need someone to help you see straight.   You’ve been spun around so many times with the blindfold on that without help you won’t find your way.  It doesn’t matter if I’ve read every self help book that’s been written.  It doesn’t even matter if I wrote the book myself.    I’ve been trying to ‘self-help’ myself so long that I’ve done nothing but dig the hole deeper.   The harder I try, the deeper I get.   I think I’m making things better but I’m just digging a deeper hole.

I spent the entire first few counseling sessions doing almost exactly what I do on this blog.  Detailing everywhere I’ve gone wrong and all the ways in which I’ve screwed up.  Litany of regrets.  Monologue of dismays.  Dig, dig, dig! Every time I cycle through all these things, the hole gets deeper.

Apparently, I really did need someone to forcibly remove the shovel from my hand.  

I’m not good at forgiveness.  At least not when applied to myself.  As a Christian, I’ve found it almost impossible to get myself out of the confessional.  It’s like I want to walk in there and lock the door.  But I can’t seem to move beyond it.   I continue to beat myself up about things.  Relive mistakes or all the things that haven’t gone my way.   If I set a food plan and fail at it,  I beat myself up.  If I try to detox off sugar and don’t accomplish it, I decide that I never will.  My thoughts whether random or intentional work against me.   So I have to control my thoughts.   In order to do that, it takes effort.  And as it turns out…some medication and a good therapist!

I’m not sure exactly how or why I fell under this black cloud in the first place.  I just know I’ve been here so long I can’t remember anything else.  I believe I’ve been in a state of clinical depression for probably a few years.  I just didn’t realize it until now.  I thought I was just having a really looooong bad day!  When we fall into depression, our thoughts are often lacking hope.  And HOPE is my tagline!

Never lose hope!  Isn’t that what I always said?? But where has that hope been lately?  My brother used to always tell me “Hope is power in the present”.  He often tells me that “Hope is the transformative power that gets you through the door of change“.   When I lost hope in myself, I lost everything.   There is nothing worse than feeling hopeless.  And I’ve felt that way more often than not in the past few years. I wanted so badly to accomplish my goals and instead I went backwards and regained weight.  I wanted more than anything to kick food addiction and instead I found myself falling into alcohol addiction! At every turn, I began to feel as if hope really was not there anymore.  Just more problems! More obstacles!

We must expect hurdles.  We must expect problems.  I knew when I set out to lose this weight that it would be difficult.  I just never realized where it would lead.  Just because I’ve been surprised by the twists and turns doesn’t have to mean that it’s hopeless.  It just means I must become adaptable.  I must accept everything that has happened and view it through the lens of hope.  In order to do that, I must change the way I think.   Every action starts in the mind first.  Before you do it, you think it.

As a man thinks, so is he–Proverbs 23:7

It’s funny because so much of what I’ve spoken about with my counselor are things I already know.  She will suggest something and I’ll say…” Yes I know this…I know this…”  I’ve already told MYSELF that a million times but she will remind me —it’s not what we know that matters.  It’s what we put into practice. Knowledge isn’t power until we put it into action.  You can know what to do.  But then you must do it!  When you fall into a state of hopeless depression, your thoughts get caught in a loop.  A spiral downwards that seems to gain speed.  We have to interrupt the tailspin if we want to turn things around.

I’ve been trying to interrupt that tailspin for longer than I’d care to admit.  For the first time in awhile, I think I might be making progress.  And THAT, my friends, is the beginning of hope once again!

In order to move in the right direction, I have to once again set manageable goals.  It doesn’t matter if I can physically walk 3 miles.  If I won’t do it then it’s not a manageable goal.  Once upon a time, walking to the mailbox was my goal.  And it wasn’t even the FIRST goal. I had to make it out of the chair first.  And then to the door.  Getting to the mailbox was a victory because my physical limitations didn’t allow for more!

Today my goal once again is to make it to the mailbox.  Not because physical limitations won’t let me do more but because my mental limitations are in the way.  I’m not motivated to do anything consistently and without consistency nothing will change long term.  I’ve decided to accept that any limitation is acceptable when setting my goals.  In the past, I viewed modifying my exercise goals due to physical limitations as acceptable.  But modifying them due to mental limitations? A mental block?  My personal laziness?? A lack of motivation? To me that wasn’t acceptable.  Even if I set a small goal, I would bash myself for it.

You’re only going to walk 10 minutes? Well you can physically do more so you should.  This isn’t enough.  

It doesn’t really matter if the reason I can’t walk 3 miles is due to a physical limitation or a mental one.  Either way, it’s not getting done.  I’ve decided to go back to the beginning.  Small goals that I can achieve.  Small goals that I’m WILLING to achieve.

 And yes–I’ve done this before.  But just because I’ve tried to set small goals and still found myself failing at them is no reason to give up hope that I won’t succeed in the future.  Failing at something a thousand times is still no predictor of future success.  Babe Ruth struck out more than any other player in Major League Baseball.  He also hit the most home runs.

The lesson?

Keep swinging.

Believe it or not I’ve managed to lose 10 pounds (again).   It’s the same 10 pounds I’ve been putting down and picking up for a few years but that’s ok.  Progress is progress.  Can we go for 15?!!  I’ve spent two weeks walking consistently.  Not far but consistently.  And consistency is right now what I’m going for.

I’ve felt hopeless many times in the past few years but I’m reminded today of this simple fact:

Anyone who is among the living has hope. Ecclesiastes 9:4

And since I”m still breathing,  I guess God isn’t finished with me yet!

You may remember I used to often listen to Mandisa in the beginning.  When I first started walking, I had her album on replay.  I loved all of her songs because they spoke of hope.  Of reaching for your dreams.  Of never giving up.  ‘Overcomer’ was one of my favorite songs.  It got me from one mailbox to the next.  It helped me make it around the block.  And then around once again.

Mandisa disappeared from the scene for quite awhile.  I always wondered where she went as her songs were so instrumental for me in not giving up.

Then like a gift out of nowhere–this month, she released a new album!!

And it’s titled “Out of the Dark”.  Perfect timing!

I read an interview last week where she said for the past 3 years she suffered from severe depression.  She fell into despair.  She had at one time lost 120 pounds but as it turned out—she gained all of it back.  The quote reads:

“I truly believe that God is going to use all of the mistakes that I’ve made in the past three years. I wish that I could redo it, but the fact that our God is able to even use those things that’s meant to harm us for our good is what makes me know that even when we don’t understand the ways of God, He’s still good,”–Christian Post
The verse she held onto speaks to me as well:

“He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along“–Psalm 40:2

Mandisa was a singer whose music really helped me at one of the lowest times in my life.  I was fighting my way out of a 417 pound prison and every morning I would walk in the dark or the rain listening to her songs of hope.   There were times I thought I just can’t go another step but her album “What If We Were Real” became the  soundtrack for my life.  It kept me going literally when I couldn’t muster up the motivation any other way!

 

She fell off the map for a long time and in many ways so have I.   It’s taken me a long time to find an inch of hope.  When I heard she had come out with a new album and that it spoke to the same pit of despair and weight regain that I have felt too–I just have to say it seemed ironic!

 

Maybe the irony is only in my head.  The way I often believe that it’s just me that goes through these things! Woe is me! I’m all alone!! No one could ever have it as rough!  The truth is we all have our own obstacles to overcome.  And the only way we can overcome them is to have hope.  Band together.  And keep swinging!

 

Mandisa’s new song is titled “Unfinished”.   But for a long while, I thought I was.  I guess many times we all feel that way. That somewhere along the way, we just stopped moving forward.  Picked up the shovel and dug ourselves back into a hole.  I’m finding it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been on the sidelines.  How far you got off the trail.  How deep the hole you dug this time might be.   All that really matters is that you start heading back in the right direction.  Even if it’s at a turtle’s pace 🙂

We’re only finished if we decide to be.  And until then–w’ere not.
 

 

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

lynne May 15, 2017 at 4:05 pm

In the same boat of regaining all I lost; and losing my mojo – that dreaded depression – and trying and trying and…

I love that word unfinished… It puts that “before and after” photo montage to rest… We are always “unfinished”.

I love that you are considering your mental state as a physical state. How are we ever going to undo the stigma of mental illness if we can’t accept our own limitations as genuine?

Thanks for giving me a lot to think about today.

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Kiera May 15, 2017 at 7:01 pm

!! I think Mandisa wrote this song just for you (and me, and all of us). Wow.

Okay Monday, let’s do this!
Kiera recently posted..Travelling to a New PlaceMy Profile

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Kathleen May 15, 2017 at 7:50 pm

I always believed in you, even when you lost faith in yourself. My prayer for you is for you to let the people in your life that want to support you. It takes a lot of trust, and that’s hard when the world and the people around you have let you down. Sometimes when we believe we know that answers, and no one has anything new to tell us, we can miss out on some golden oppourtunities. When we isolate we tend to thing we are so original that no one could possibly relate. But the reality is, we are all more alike than we think. I pray for you everyday, I have been for months. Please feel free to call or contact me anytime. I’m rooting for you! Blessings!

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Mickie Gibbs May 15, 2017 at 9:56 pm

The change in you is evident in the tone of your writing. I’m so glad you’ve taken these positive steps, and I think walking to the mailbox is a fine goal! Continuing to root for you, and can’t wait for your next post!

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Dennise May 15, 2017 at 10:25 pm

Hi Holly!!!

I liked this post a lot, it gives us hope of getting back on track and it helps to know that we are not alone. As you write here, consistency is key for reaching our goals. I think changing old habits even at our mental level, habits like negative thinking and beating us up for what we do wrong, is the first step to a huge change in our lives. I read this article that helped me on changing some old habits that I couldn’t get rid off: https://www.hospitalcer.com/change-old-habits/
I hope this could be helpful for anyone who is trying as well to be their best version of themselves.

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16blessingsmom May 16, 2017 at 12:04 am

Holly, I am so glad to hear from you!!! I happened to have decided to just do what I know is right whether I feel like it or not, which will mostly be NOT, because I am a comfy chair person. I am a comfy chair/bowl of popcorn person actually, but that’s a whole ‘nother story. I decided last night that I am done wearing all my excuses in my muffin top, done huffing and puffing in terrible shape because of all my really excellent reasons why today’s not a good day for a walk…so from now on, I am just going to do it anyway. Nike has it right, just do it. Yesterday is in the past, and today, I am going to do it.
Della

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Katie May 16, 2017 at 1:54 am

I literally whooped out loud when I read you had decided to go back on medication (I live alone, I’m allowed to talk to my computer). The level of anxiety you have described in other posts seems to go beyond what the avantage person experiences so I’m not surprised you have found it so difficult to conquer your food issues. That said, I remain in awe of your determination perserverance (is that spelled correctly?!?). I will continue to send you positive thoughts and I hope that things continue to move in a possitive direction!

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LHA May 16, 2017 at 2:22 am

Holly, I was thrilled to see your post! It might surprise you to know that I think of you often even though we do not know each other. You have made quite an impression on many of us through your writing, and speaking for myself, you have been a very positive influence. Your struggle with regain has been instructive to me in my own life…very instructive! After a 100 pound loss over a period of about two years, I got tripped up at Christmas and have struggled through the first few months of this year. My actions were similar to yours, with on-off-on eating well and regaining some pounds in spite of my sputtering efforts. Because of reading what you have written, I thought of you and the battle you have been waging and took determination from your refusal to give up in spite of all you are dealing with. So, I must say thank you for the inspiration that is saving me from sliding down that slippery slope! It is just thrilling to see that you are feeling positive again and I wish you the very best of luck going forward. Thank you so much for your blog!

(By the way, I also have found antidepressants and therapy to be a lifesaver. I’m so glad you mentioned it in your post, as it helps to fight stigma and encourages others to seek help.)

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Dee May 16, 2017 at 5:39 am

Holly I am so full of hope for you! Come on lady, you’ve got this 🙂
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Bonnie May 16, 2017 at 2:00 pm

“I’ve already told MYSELF that a million times but she will remind me —it’s not what we know that matters. It’s what we put into practice.” Wow. That really hit me. And the Mandisa song is perfect! Thanks for sharing it. I hadn’t heard it yet.

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Barbara Bennett May 16, 2017 at 3:30 pm

Yayyy, Holly! I love reading your posts, up or down, happy or sad. I see so much of me in your thoughts and words. I’ve been taking the stairs at work to the 3rd floor each morning for a year or so–66 steps. I also walk down them each night despite the fact that it hurts after sitting on my butt all day. I hold on to the railing for dear life! The doctors/dieticians tell us ‘just make a simple change in your routine. That simple change leads to another’ . . . my brain tells me it’s not nearly enough–my brain also tells me it’s better than nothing! Keep on keeping on . . .

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Kellie May 17, 2017 at 3:02 pm

It’s the perfectionist within us that tells us what we are doing isn’t enough. Do more when you can and when you want to. Sometimes, we need to force ourselves to do that which we are hesitant to do and sometimes we just need to get back into the swing of things so that which we are hesitant to do, becomes that which we want to do.

Progress is progress, no matter how small.

CBT has helped me a ton as well! I love your mom’s saying “analysis paralysis” because that’s exactly what it is!

You got this, girl!

It’s so easy for us all to get caught up in this cycle of hating on ourselves. We learn to treat ourselves the way others treat us when we are young and dealing with weight issues when you are younger has an impact on how you see yourself when you get older. I wish I knew then what I know now.

I so enjoy reading your blog and I am so happy for you that you are figuring stuff out and getting back on track! ((((HUGS))))
Kellie recently posted..Keto & Off-Plan MomentsMy Profile

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Heather c May 17, 2017 at 3:15 pm

I always look forward to hearing from you Holly. Mandisa is one of my favorite singers, too. If you do your workouts in the morning you can also start out with “it’s a good morning.” I’m sure you know the song I am referring to. Happy to hear that you were on the right track, but know that even if you were on the fast train to 417,’ I have still be here for you Onward!

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Punit kumar@ bariatric surgery May 19, 2017 at 11:12 am

When you think and talk about what you want and how to get it, you feel happier and in greater control of your life. When you think about something that makes you happy, your brain actually releases endorphins, which give you a generalized feeling of well-being. As a result, you develop a positive attitude.

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