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.
She always motivates me to give my very best – and then to give even more.
10 years ago this month, Jenni accomplished a huge personal goal when she published the now-bestselling book Life Without Ed: how one woman declared independence from her eating disorder and you can too.
This month, “Life Without Ed” celebrates its 10th anniversary, and we celebrate Jenni, her recovery, and all she has done for others who are still struggling to recover.
On Wednesday, February 12th, Jenni will speak about her work and her recovery in a FREE MentorCONNECT teleconference.
This event is a part of our plans to raise awareness of eating disorders during NEDAwareness Week 2014.
==> You can RSVP for the free live teleconference (call in) event HERE.
==> If you can’t attend the live event, you can listen to the free podcast (once it is posted) HERE (or in iTunes).
==> You can participate in NEDA & MentorCONNECT’s 4th Annual Virtual Walk for eating disorders awareness by offering a donation or sharing this link with your social media networks (or both)!
You can also enter to win a free book right now, today – it is simple to enter!
To enter the giveaway, all you need to do is CLICK HERE TO READ Jenni’s “DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE FROM ED.”
Then post a comment stating your commitment to declare your own independence from your eating disorder.
Two books – both signed anniversary editions of “Life Without Ed” – will be given away and winners will be chosen at random (using a random number generator Jenni suggested- this will be a real first for me!)
==> CLICK HERE TO READ Jenni’s “Declaration of Independence from ED,” post your commitment in a comment below, and enter to win a …
In my last post, I shared about a fascinating new book I’m reading called “The Body Has a Mind of Its Own” by Sandra & Matthew Blakeslee.
One of the reasons I got the book was because of a chapter called “Dueling Body Maps, or Why You Still Feel Fat After Losing Weight.” I really, really, really wanted to know the answer to this question!
I still remember reading singer Jennifer Hudson‘s confession that, even after her dramatic weight loss, she still felt the same size on the inside. I thought she was very brave to admit this….and I could totally relate.
Given my own lengthy (although happily now concluded) battle with an eating disorder, I too have been many different sizes over the years, and it has always seemed that no matter what size I am (or how healthy I am at that size) when I go to shop for clothes I can’t ever figure out what size I actually am. What is oddest, however, is that often I’ve found when I get larger, I still pick out smaller-sized clothes, and when I get smaller, I still pick out larger-sized clothes.
In these moments, it almost feels as if my mind is playing catch-up – it is slow to adjust to my body’s alterations. And as it turns out, this is EXACTLY the phenomenon that is addressed in this chapter of the book!
The Blakeslees explain that the scientific reason for why this happens is due to the presence of two body maps – a body schema and body image. The book provides these helpful definitions for each map.
Body schema: a felt sense based on physical properties of your body.
Body image: stems from learned attitudes about your body.
The word “flow” first came into my life a year or so ago during a walk at the park.
A friend and I were talking about happiness – how to find it, how to know you have found it, how to make it stay.
He mentioned that for him, getting totally wrapped up in an activity – whether it is one he particularly thought he would enjoy or not – often feels so exhilarating it is indistinguishable from any other kind of happiness.
He said the name for this state is “flow.”
As I mentioned in my last post, I have been reading a new book called “Sheepish.” When I started reading the book, I expected to learn a lot about sheep…and wool….and sheep farmers.
I did not expect to learn about the originator of “flow” too.
So imagine my happy surprise when I flipped the page and read these words by author Catherine Friend:
If I start doing more things with my hands, whether that’s woodworking or gardening or knitting or baking cookies, I might fall into the condition made famous by the psychologist with the impossible name, Mihaly Csikszentmihaly. That condition is “flow.” It means becoming completely involved in an activity not for the sake of the outcome but for the sheer joy of it. It means feeling alive when we are fully in the groove of doing something. According to Csikszentmihaly, the path to greatest happiness lies not with mindless consuming but with challenging ourselves to experience or produce something new, becoming in the process more engaged, connected, and alive.
So, for instance, if I completely dive into reconciling my receipts in preparation for tax time, losing track of time (and my sanity) in the process, that could be considered a form of happiness.
I turned 43 this month.
Every year right around this time I do an “annual yearly review.” I think through what I’ve learned, what I haven’t learned, where I’ve made progress, where I haven’t yet made progress – all that good stuff.
In this year’s process, it occurred me that I have changed my mind a tremendous number of times in the last 43 years.
For instance, at first I was sure I didn’t have an eating disorder.
Then I was sure I wasn’t sick enough to do anything about the eating disorder I knew I had.
Then I decided I really wanted to do something about my eating disorder but was positive I couldn’t recover.
Then I changed my mind again and determined I would recover or die trying (because anything was better than waking up to my own self-hatred for even one. more. day).
Then one day I woke up and realized I was really DOING IT – RECOVERING – and I set my mind to KEEP GOING….
Recently I have been reading a book called “Sheepish.”
Yes, it is all about sheep.
Being more of a “bird person” myself, I have never spent too much time thinking about sheep. Or cows. Or even chickens (reason being, while technically they do fall into the ‘bird’ category, the easiest place to find one in my urban city of millions is in those little egg crate packages in the supermarket).
The author, Catherine Friend, is a bona fide farmer. Or rather, her partner, Melissa, is a bona fide farmer. Catherine is what she herself calls a “backup farmer.” For this reason, in “Sheepish” and elsewhere, Catherine often finds herself less than fully prepared for some of farming’s unique challenges (a hint – she mentions the word “placenta” a lot in the text. The word “castration” comes up fairly regularly too).
Near the end of this fabulous book, Catherine writes about farming and life,
She makes an excellent point.I finally figure out that persistence is a choice. It helps to admit that quitting is an option, a decision writers face every day. David Bayles and Ted Orlando make an important point about persistence in their book, ‘Art and Fear:’ ‘Quitting is fundamentally different from stopping. Quitting happens once. Quitting means not starting again….”
In my last post, I shared my discovery of a new movie mentor in Charlie, teenage hero of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”
Charlie inspired me on many levels – and he also made me think.
In fact, I am still thinking about a particular conversation between Charlie and Sam, the object of his romantic affections. In the film, Sam has historically had trouble selecting men who treat her with respect. During this conversation, she asks Charlie why. His answer (effectively “borrowed” from an earlier conversation on the same topic he has had with his English teacher), is simple:
People accept the love they think they deserve.
I heard this dialogue and found myself nodding my internal head, “Yup, yup. So true, so true.”
I neatly catalogued the statement in my mind as a “profound cliche” and moved on. Until the middle of that night, when I woke up asking myself the uncomfortable, inevitable question: “So, Shannon, what kind of love do you think you deserve?”
Crap crap crap crap crap.
Last night I watched “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”
I have had the film in my Netflix queue for awhile…..in fact, I have had the film in my house for quite awhile, all neatly sealed up in its little red envelope. I would get to the end of my day, look at the “number of minutes” count, realize there was no way I could stay awake for 102 whole minutes, and put off watching it for another night.
So last night was the night. Now I understand why I didn’t just send it back (sometimes I do this when I get too irritated by the sight of that red unopened envelope).
As it turned out, I could relate to the story in sooooo many ways – except that in my high school, there was no pair of caring senior students who took me under their social wing. Come to think of it, “wallflower” would be a mild description for my particular brand of social skills in high school….and in college….and for the first several years of life thereafter.
As such, the raw kindness of step-siblings Patrick and Sam took my breath away – just the sheer impact of how one small act of empathy can totally transform a life.
I particularly liked that the film was so open about so many issues that so many people still insist on staying so closed up about – sexual orientation, eating disorders, depression, friendship, romance, suicide, drug use, and the actual (not relative) appeal of “coolness” up close. I know I wasn’t open about any of those topics in my younger years, although I wrestled with some and suspected I had classmates who wrestled with others.
At one point, Charlie, the main character, asks his doctor if other people feel so sad as he does upon observing all the pain in others. She doesn’t seem sure – but I am. I too struggle with this. I have always struggled with this. Back in my songwriting days, I wrote a song called “For Me to Hold.” The chorus was simple: “Oh there’s too much pain in the world for me to hold, for me to hold.”
I wrote that song in my 20′s – I am now 42-and-counting and I still feel that way many days.
It has been nearly 43 years now, and in my ongoing debate with myself, I still have not decided whether a) life keeps handing me unfairly difficult challenges or b) I am just too high strung.
This is probably why I find myself writing about anxiety a lot.
But looking back over my almost 43 years to date, I can also clearly see I have successfully survived my own anxiety thus far.
I am still here, still improving myself, still learning about what is possible and what I’m made of (even if sometimes I would rather not know).
All of those challenges where I have said, “Oh no – anything but that! I’ll never survive/succeed at that one!” and yet here I am. I’ve survived them all.
As I have continued my journey of self exploration, more and more I realize the need to learn to manage energy.
I don’t mean levitating chairs or bending spoons with my mind – although that would be super-cool – but rather learning to work with the major energy sources that seem so prevalent throughout life – specifically, love and money.
Both are challenging – to me at least.
Both are very powerful. I wouldn’t want to arm wrestle either.
It also seems worth mentioning that both, at one time or another, have appeared to have it in for me.
Love and money can and do bring up powerful emotions within me. Frustration, fear, hope, longing, envy, resistance, resentment, depression, anxiety, hopelessness, excitement, joy.