It’s been over a week since I began this initiative, and even though it pales in comparison to the next bajilion days I’ll be trying to love myself, it’s still an accomplishment. Just thought I’d open with a happy thought.
Last night I went on a mini eating/drinking fest. It started out as a happy hour beer, continued to two jack and tonics with a shared plate of schnitzel and fries and ended with a shared dish of tempura mushrooms. In that moment my mind was saying the following, “lalalala I love beer and fries. lalalala stay positive!” In the morning my mind was saying something like “oh no, I ate and drank the world last night. oh f&^* no”. I panicked this morning, and racked up the calories in my mind: 180+120+120+150+200+150= 920ish, and that’s just dinner. When I looked into the mirror this morning, I convinced myself that my little bingefest last night put a million extra pounds on me, and that I have gained back all the weight I’ve already lost.
Unhappy with what I saw in the mirror, I began to fret about writing todays post. “How can I love what I see?” You see, just yesterday, pre-bingefest, after a 40 minute run, I was all chirpy and feeling as though I could perhaps begin to love my stomach. This morning, i wiped that thought out of my head. My old familiar bully habits began to creep inside my head. “Uch, you are so big, your body is disgusting, and more thoughts that I just don’t even want to share.”
I can’t do that anymore. I sound so ridiculous! And so, what I’m going to flesh out on todays blog is a technique I learnt from a book called “Feeling Good: The new mood therapy” by Dr. David D. Burns. It was recommended to me by my therapist, when my “automatic” thoughts began to take control of my rationality. Automatic thoughts are the internal dialogue you have with yourself that directly affect your mood. Your moods/feelings are therefore,a reflection of your thoughts NOT the actual situation. Your experiences are filtered by your conscious giving them meaning BEFORE you feel them. When my thoughts are negative, I feel worse. But my thoughts are not always accurate. You dear reader, may have already detected that those thoughts up there, are inaccurate. They are how I interpreted the situation, making me feel horrible, but are not an accurate reflection of the world/what happened.
What Dr. Burns therefore suggests that in order to change your thoughts and therefore your moods, you need to isolate each thought and classify it (he has a list of distortions that the mind jumps to. For example “I’m fat is labeling and magnification”.) then you need to provide for yourself the rational response to each automatic response.
Here we go:
1. You are so big. This is labeling and a magnification.
Rational response: By all facts and statistics, my BMI is within a healthy range. My weight and height are perfectly healthy and within range. I wear an average size pants and shirt. I have no health problems. I’m not big.
2. Your body is disgusting: This is emotional reasoning (if i feel it, it must be true), mental filter (choosing a single negative detail, in this case “my fat” and dwelling on it exclusively, so that everyone becomes darkened and distorted.)
Rational Response: That is such a silly, and horrible thing to say about something so beautiful that is able to allow me to walk, eat, and enjoy life. My body is the only vessel I have, and it’s not disgusting, it’s beautiful. I’m not the skinniest person I know but fat is not disgusting. And in any case, I’m not fat.
I did this with the rest of my thoughts, and I feel a lot better now. What can I say that I love about my body today? I still can’t go as far as my stomach, but I can say that I don’t hate it. I’m getting there… baby steps…
I love my eyes- I love how in the summer they are a mix of green and brown, and they deepen into a dark brown with the cold weather. More than that, I love the way that eyeliner looks on my eyes, kinda exotic like. I know- it’s a weird point to make, but let me have it.
I love how I’m able to use those tools I learnt in therapy last year and use them within my life, to bring calmness and happiness within it. (not to mention a degree of rationality!)