I get so many questions from recovering people about how to replace the mean voices inside their heads with something kinder.
For many years I didn’t know how to answer this question. This, of course, was because the voices inside my own head were still quite mean.
Today, the voices in my head have gotten much kinder. Unfortunately, this does not mean I am any closer to answering those who ask me how it is done.
What I can say is – when the shift occurs, you will KNOW it.
Although, truthfully, you might not know it all at once – for me, significant changes like this often “sneak up” on me – like they are afraid I will run them off if they just show up with too little advance warning.
So I will never be one of those people you want to ask, “So what was the exact, precise, on-the-second moment when you knew such-and-so had changed?”
But I will tell you HOW I changed the positive self-talk in my head, and how you can know your own efforts are starting to work.
Over the years I have come to realize that making an effort is not something I really understand all that well.
In the meditation course I subscribe to, this thought recently arrived in my inbox:
There is no reason that what is meant by self-effort should be vague. It’s just a matter of doing it. If we don’t do anything, then no self-effort is being applied.
What I learned from this – initially – is that there are two different types of effort. I also learned that both are essential if I want to achieve my goals.
Setting a goal is the first type of effort. Doing the actual work required to achieve that goal is the second type of effort.
Truthfully, I am mostly already quite good at the former – goal clarification. I am even good at plotting out the steps towards achieving a goal. But I’m still not good at all at following my own plan by actually doing each of those steps.
In another installment of my meditation course, I received this additional insight on how to get better at goal achievement.
There is nothing like taking 43 years to figure this out.
But I will be honest – it wasn’t until just this month – and just a few days ago, in fact, that I finally convinced myself to stop worrying so much about whether who I am, how I act, what I prefer, and how I live is the “right” way to be.
Can you relate?
For 43 years, I have logged daily high quality time lecturing myself about how I need to do more of this, less of that, adjust my preferences or habits “or else”…..and yet after all those years of well-meaning and well-composed self-lectures, here I am.
I am still me. I am still the same me. I still act the way I act and think the way I think. I still have certain preferences and other aversions. I still live the way I live, and no amount of lecturing or motivational speeches or dire predictions can sway me from it.
Then it finally occurred to me – mid-way through this second month of my 43rd year – that maybe there is a reason for it.
This week marks the start of the National Eating Disorders Association‘s Annual NEDAwareness Week (Feb 23 – March 1, 2014).
This is a whole wonderful week designated to raise awareness, share education, and generate support for individuals who are affected by eating disorders.
As a person who has recovered from anorexia and bulimia, this is a personally significant week for me.
It is also a week when MentorCONNECT, a NEDA Network partner (MentorCONNECT is the eating disorders nonprofit I founded in 2009), comes together with NEDA to raise awareness and funds for our joint work to ease suffering and spread hope of recovery.
We do this through our “Virtual Walk,” a social media-based effort to get the word out that eating disorders are deadly and isolation kills. With support, with love, with treatment, people DO heal.
This is our 4th year of co-sponsoring the “Virtual Walk” – and we hope you will join in!
Oh, and participating is easy – oh, so easy! And you can participate even if you can’t donate money!
If you are able to make a donation: http://nedawalk.org/virtualwalk2014
You can also share the Virtual Walk link using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other favorite social media apps to invite friends and family to participate.
If you want to share the link with others: http://nedawalk.org/virtualwalk2014
And if you want to share a picture, feel free to grab the one displayed here and just link it to the walk page URL.
The National Eating Disorders Association and MentorCONNECT both benefit from your donations and your sharing – and we both thank you in advance for your support!
A friend sent me a fabulous article on Tiny Buddha called “What to Do When You Find it Hard to Do What’s Good for You.”
Of course I jumped right on it.
This is because I have that problem all the time, with all kinds of things.
I also have all kinds of (very good sounding) reasons for why I shouldn’t work harder to overcome the many obstacles in my life….especially the ones I sort of suspect I am putting in my own path.
Of course the author of the article talks about “big things” – obvious things – things like trying to quit smoking, trying to start eating better, trying to exercise for your health when you really just want to lay on the couch again – those sorts of things.
But I could easily see how the message relates to the smaller things too – the subtler things – things like talking rudely to yourself in your head, or letting fear creep up and tackle you yet again without even putting up a fight, or saying something mean about someone else because you just feel too lazy to restrain yourself.
The article’s author says that both the big things and the little things are a symptom of the same thing – a lack of self-respect.
I totally agree.
In my last post, I introduced you to a great book called “Made for Each Other: The Biology of the Human-Animal Bond” by Meg Daley Olmert.
Of course, this book addresses the mutual benefits to humans and non-humans of making and maintaining close-knit cooperative bonds.
What I did not expect to encounter within its pages was evidence to support that plants can achieve the same.
I love plants. However, the feeling has never seemed particularly mutual.
Even my highest best intentions has not produced any surefire way to keep the plants in my household either green or alive. So imagine my surprise when I read the following:
Susan Dudley and Amanda File of McMaster University in Ontario found that plants, like humans and animals, are capable of social recognition. Plants actually recognize other plants that are related to them, and when they see another plant as kin, they refrain from competing with it for root territory. It is not known whether plants can extend any sort of social recognition to the humans who care for them, but James Cahill of the University of Alberta and his colleagues found that they do respond to human touch.
I just finished another great book – “Made for Each Other: The Biology of the Human-Animal Bond” by Meg Daley Olmert.
Given that it is Valentine’s Day today, and my feathery sidekick and I are celebrating 13 (loud but) blissful years together, I thought the book would make for a perfect post.
The premise of “Made for Each Other” is simple: humans and animals have been bonded together for centuries – until now.
The last 100 years has dramatically changed our ability and need to be connected to our non-human helpmeets in practical ways (think farming, milking, construction).
As this bond slowly breaks down, it is changing us – and not for the better.
February is the “month of love” annually for many people.
Not for me.
And especially not this year.
A month before my birthday (in December) I lost someone who was like a second mom to me and had been slowly passing all during the last year. So….basically, an excruciating wait followed by an even more excruciating loss.
Two months after that (so in January), I went through the breakup of a long-term relationship….and by long-term, I’m talking a decade of not just romance but also true friendship.
It has been a challenging month.
To add insult to serious injury, the dreaded “grief cycle” (thanks but no thanks, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross) quickly returned – with enthusiasm – to “help” me through my twin losses.
What its help has looked like on a daily basis feels similar to what I imagine I might see if I was inside a blender as it was grinding up a few heaping cups of multi-colored Fruit Loops.
I’m almost done reading “Divorce Among the Gulls: An Uncommon Look at Human Nature” by William Jordan (I previously wrote about this fascinating book in “Finding Our Niche and Defending It“).
The book is as much about people as it is about animals….and as much about animals as it is about people…..which means it is holding my attention quite well overall (except for the part about cockroaches – my gag reflex required me to skip over that one).
But when I got to the chapter called “Distracting the Snake,” I took a long pause to contemplate. Reason being, this chapter introduces a very plausible biologically-based theory for why human beings hurt the ones we love the most with the greatest frequency and the most lethal intent.
This was a question I have very much wanted to know the answer to for a great many years. So I read each word very, very slowwwwwlllllyyyyy.
Apparently, in college author Jordan had a literal “snake charmer” for a roommate. This odd and interesting fellow could turn snakes into cool scaly puppies, lying across his arms and even allowing total strangers to pass them around in a circle like party favors.
After Jordan witnessed Farley (the roommate’s name) handling an eight-foot gopher snake in the middle of the steaming hot Mojave Desert, he just had to ask. “How do you do it? What’s the secret to handling snakes?”
I live in a neighborhood with lots of growing pains.
Because of this, I now know it takes two full days (if they start early on the morning of the 1st day) to tear a whole house down and cart it away.
Since they are hard at work putting up six new houses on my street alone, I will soon find out approximately how long it takes to build a new house where the old house used to be.
But what I already know is that it makes quite a racket while they are doing it!
There are the ground smoothers. And the concrete pourers. And the wood haulers. And the paint sprayers. And of course the loud (blaring) tunes from somebody’s boom box (apparently this is a required part of every “new home building” process).
While it is happening it is irritating, messy, lengthy, erratic, and seemingly endless.
But when the process finally does conclude, there is a beautiful shiny new HOME where a flimsy condemned shack used to stand.
Life is like this (or at least I think it is – usually I’m too busy complaining during the “growing pains” phases to really bookmark the actual specifics).
We endure the growing pains – somehow – and then, one day and just when we least expect it, voila!
Lovely, new, shining, and oh-so-proud – we behold ourselves.
Just like that, we have triumphed over even the worst of our own growing pains, and boy-oh-boy is it ever worth it!
Today’s Takeaway: What is your typical reaction during “growing pains” periods of your life? Do you complain (like I often do)? Do you make a conscious effort to step back and look at the bigger picture to see a transformation in process? Some other way? What helps you most to endure during the “tearing down” and then the “building process”?
p.s. This post is from January’s “Good News for Eating Disorders Recovery” ezine. To read the full edition click HERE
Home construction image available from Shutterstock.