Last Wednesday’s post in this Be Fre(ed) Series was focused on giving you tips on how to observe your thoughts without judgment. If you missed last Wednesday’s feel free to catch up: Let’s Think about our Thinking.
Today’s post is will be giving a closer look on what sort of thought pattern that you may be thinking along the lines of. From my experience, I found that there are certain types of thinking patterns that we habitually think and lead us into that negative spiral. The result being we might end up restricting, binging, overexercising, or over indulging and end up with a finished bag of chocolate covered pretzels without really knowing how that happened.
Our actions are linked to what we first were thinking about. When we give power to these thoughts and believe in it, it leads us to take action. What I’m sharing today is there are certain patterns of thinking that you don’t have to believe.
I grew up hooked on fantasy novels and Harry Potter was one of the ones that I had read at least each book in the series twice 😉
One of my favorite scenes from Harry Potter was when Dumbledore turned to Harry at the end of he 7th movie and said:
The thoughts that are real in our minds are the ones that we believe. It is our belief that makes those thoughts real. If we don’t believe in them, the thoughts would not become a part of us.
As you go through the list, you might identify ones that you can relate to more than others. I also put examples in each of the thought pattern in how you may see it come up in our ED thoughts.
It is my hope that in shedding light in these patterns, when we find ourselves spiraling down that negative thought spiral, we can choose instead to remedy it with a more lovely and positive way of thinking 🙂
Here are some thinking patterns that we do not need to believe:
1. Making a mountain out of a molehill
This is when we exaggerate something out of proportion, which in turn may cause us to feel scared, worry, anxious, or in some cases causes us to procrastinate from taking action.
It may happen when we have many things to do and our mind can’t seem to stop THINKING of all of the things that we have to get done and keep us awake at night. We may also be focusing on the negative side of things when we do this, thinking to ourselves like:
‘There’s so much to do, I cannot get this done.’
‘This is going to be such a burden.’
I just ate a french fry, this is going to make me fat. I need to exercise to burn off all the calories I just consumed. I need to purge this french fry.
Ask yourself: How can I see this in a real perspective? Am I amplifying this thought out of proportion? A french fry is a french fry, one french fry or even eating french fries from time to time will not make cause you to gain weight.
Another remedy would be to training our mind to think about one thing at the time. I sometimes make my to do list on a small spiral notebook and only write down one thing to do on the one sheet, this helps me to focus on that one thing only and not look at the rest. When I get that thing done, I rip it, crumple it away and throw it away because there’s no need to waste energy in thinking about what has been done.
There’s always a silver lining to everything. So even though you might be feeling heavy burdened, ask yourself, what is the positive lesson I can gain from this? Asking this puts a stop to the negative spiral in our heads and helps us to hone in to the lesson that the moment is teaching us.
2. Fueling our own fire
This sometimes happens when get that feeling of worry or dread. When the truth is there’s nothing really to worry about. This sometimes happens when we think that we have made a mistake or we did something wrong. Thinking that alone sometimes lead us to, ‘Oh no, I need to fix it or something bad will happen.’
We might have a list of ‘safety foods’ or ‘fear foods’ that we avoid. We might ‘feel safe’ eating certain foods because we want those foods to achieve something (losing weight or being more fit) and we avoid our ‘fear foods’ because we know eating them will cause something that we want to avoid (gaining weight).
*Weight loss / gain is not only about what you eat, there’s so much more to the picture than that. It also includes, your hormones, stress levels, sleep cycle… So it’s not true that avoiding your fear foods will cause to lose weight or eating them will cause us to gain weight.
The key here is to train our mind to actually live in the moment and not imagine what will happen or not happen. We create many of our problems in overt hinking things and predicting that they will happen so much so that we believe that it will happen.
When we are recovering and beginning to eat the foods we ‘fear’ we need to stop and actually ask ourselves, ‘Is it the food that I fear or do I fear the thing that I THINK will result from eating the food? Then ask, what is the likelihood of this reality that I THINK will actually happen?
The key word is THINK. We believe so much of what we think that we create our worst realities in our mind, when actually, much of our fears do not come to realization.
3. It’s all or nothing
We sometimes think that ‘we need to give it our all’ or we need to ‘work continually / hard to reap results.’ I sometimes call this black or white thinking too. The negative spiral we get ourselves into when we think in this pattern is that we end up feeling the need to continually ‘work’ or feeling the need to ‘prove ourselves’ and not give ourselves rest when we actually need to listen to our bodies.
This might also be in the form of, ‘I need / must / should’ do these things. When we speak to ourselves like this, we put so much pressure on ourselves and create stress in our minds.
‘I need to burn so and so much calories at the gym or it won’t be worth going at all.’
‘I need to be able to complete 2 laps or it won’t be a workout at all.’
‘I need to be able to eat salads all week long, I need to only drink juice to lose this amount of weight…’
Ask yourself: What is causing you to feel the need/ should / must do these things? Did it come from someone else?
Sometimes, when we feel the NEED to do something, it’s because someone might have told us over and over again that if we don’t do something, they will punish us, or get mad at us. In turn we internalise this conditioning and we find it difficult to break the pattern. However, when we understand this, we can break away from the thinking pattern that is no longer serving us any benefit and choose to think in a kinder way to ourselves.
In my recovery, I learned to be okay with not living in absolutes. Our bodies cannot live only on salads or green juice alone. That lifestyle is not sustainable. It’s okay to have a triple chocolate sundae ice cream sometimes, or eat oreos and get a juicy burger.
It’s okay to not work. It’s okay to HAVE FUN. It’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to take that vacation or shopping trip you’ve been wanting to go on.
It’s okay to only walk for leisure. It’s okay to not complete a workout that you were planning to do because you feel tired. It’s okay to not complete running that mile. It’s okay to listen to your body and honor its needs.
Life is not all or nothing. There is beauty in progress. We don’t need to be so hard on ourselves. When life does not go to plan, it does not make us ‘worse’ or a ‘terrible’ person.
4. ‘They are better than me’
‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’ – Theodore Roosevelt
Sometimes we tend to look at others and we get that feeling of jealousy.
‘They are so much more beautiful, skinnier, thinner, fitter, prettier than me.’
‘They are so much smarter, eloquent, graceful, beautiful than me.’
‘I wish I had their life, their career, their bags, their money, their body, their smile…’
‘If I’m not them, I won’t be able to get that kind of life, that grade, that career…’
‘I need to be skinnier, have a thigh gap bigger than hers, have a collar bone that sticks out more than her, eat less than her, so that I can finally prove I’m good enough.’
Oh my darling, don’t compare and despair. Being you is only what you need to be 🙂
Realise that you were created to be YOU. There’s no one else like you, so why should we waste our energy trying to be someone else when we can be the BEST VERSION OF OURSELVES?
Instead of focusing on what we don’t have, focus on the things what we do have and then ask, ‘How can I use my talents, abilities, resources, etc to contribute to others around me?’ When we focus on the things that we have, we will be given more to give.
5. Taking it personal
Have you ever spent the day thinking, ‘Was it something I done? Why is he / she ignoring me? Oh no, it MUST have been MY fault.’
It’s all my fault. I don’t DESERVE to eat. I’m not good enough. I can’t have that slice of cake. I’ve failed, I need to run an extra mile.
When things do not go according to plan or the way we want to, it is not our fault. There’s usually many factors that went into the equation and usually it’s never our fault. We only think that it’s our fault because what we can only see is our part in the equation.
Another remedy is to not use food as a reward mechanism. In my recovery, I learned to see food as simply food. Kale is kale, chocolate is chocolate. When I’m hungry, I eat. Not eating or eating will not solve something. It has nothing to do with that.
When something goes wrong in life, I learned instead of blaming myself, I learned to ask: How can I see this situation in a more balanced perspective? What can I learn from this situation?
There is no failure in life. Failure is only our greatest teachers and it is redirecting us to a better path in our lives.
6. Replaying past experiences, becoming our own victims.
We can get stuck in blaming our circumstances, or where we came from. We get into a negative cycle of thinking that we cannot do anything to remedy the situation. We give ourselves an excuse to stay in the situation that we are in and give the responsibility of making things better for us to someone else. We become victims of the story that we tell ourselves.
I’m anorexic, bulimic, orthorexic, emotionally eat because of my circumstances / genetics / hurtful past…
I’m anorexic, bulimic, orthorexic, emotionally eat because it has become a part of my life, Ana, Mia, etc have become my friend, she is all that I have…
When we play the victims of our own stories, we define ourselves as being that person. The most powerful saying I heard was from Amy Purdy.
If your life was a story, how would you want it to play out to be?
She lost both of her legs due to a severe case of bacterial meningitis, but ended up winning the Snowboard paralympics. She also went on to compete on Dancing with the Stars and won 2nd place.
Our illnesses do not define us or limit us, it is only our thinking and our beliefs that does.
Instead of playing the victim, ask yourself, how can you be the hero of you own story? Where do you want your life to be? What are your DREAMS? What are your PASSIONS?
Life does not happen to us. Life is happening for us. Click To Tweet
For me personally, I tend to be guilty of numbers 1, 3, and 5. I used to be so hard on myself that if I failed or something went wrong, it was my fault and, I wouldn’t allow myself to eat or I would over exercise. I used to cry and beat myself up for eating a square of dark chocolate or some cookies. From learning to eat chocolate again, oreos and many other fear foods, I now can eat those foods in peace and enjoy it. I don’t have the need to not eat or punish myself with exercise when something goes wrong because I know that that it’s usually not my fault and there’s always a lesson to be learned.
It’s the little steps that matter. It’s the small victories that are worth smiling for.
Now it’s over to you. Which types of negative thinking that you tend to find yourself spiraling into? Remember, in recognizing our own patterns, there is no need to judge 🙂
I hope that this post sheds light to some of the patterns of thinking that are unhelpful to us. In recognizing our own patterns, we can choose to think from a more loving and positive place. When we continue to practice in this manner, we can shift our thinking for the better, change our minds, and ultimately make the positive change in our lives.
From my heart to yours,