Have you ever had a conversation with friends about a new product or topic and then, all of a sudden, you’re receiving ads on your smartphone for products that fit that category?
This technology example is representative of what the brain and body do naturally. The brain is a powerful organ that dictates so much of how we feel based on our thinking. Today, more than ever, we’re learning that what we think and speak about manifests itself in physical form. Our thoughts are powerful and have the ability to change the course of our health. It’s a two-way street, however. You want to be healthy in both your thinking (your mind) and what you eat (your body). This is the mind-body connection.
Let’s talk about the mind because it really does start here with our thinking. In the early 00s, the idea of the inner critic emerged. This is the little voice in our head that says unhelpful things to us, ultimately determining whether or not we successfully create permanent, long-lasting change. If the inner critic goes unattended, any efforts to lose weight or become stronger will be overridden by negative self-talk, ultimately validating that what we were thinking was right all along.
Therefore, identifying the inner critic and changing how we speak to ourselves, as well as about ourselves, is key. This talk can include any self-deprecating statements we say when we’re with friends or family. For example, “I’m such a failure at this getting healthy thing,” or, “I’m destined to be overweight for the rest of my life.” Whether or not you actually mean it or truly believe it, these statements are telling your body to remain as it is and to not make any progress or changes.
So how do we begin to recognize these unconscious thoughts? Listen to yourself.
Get still, take a deep breath, close your eyes and listen. Recognize what’s going on inside your head. Are you hearing phrases from within such as, “This is ridiculous” or “I can’t do this”? Are you repeating negative words other well-meaning people have told you in the past like, “You’re big-boned” (code for you’ll likely never be smaller) or, “Eh, have another piece of pizza”?
The beauty of becoming conscious of our own thoughts is that we can then begin to change our thinking. Granted, it’s not easy and may provoke some anxiety at first. If you haven’t ever monitored your thinking, this could come as a bit of a shock to realize that the thoughts you’re having may not even be your own but statements uttered by others that you incorporated into your psyche.
Be gentle with yourself as you explore the idea of recognizing and changing thoughts. No matter where you are, any change is a process, so treat yourself like you would a loved one and be patient. And if you have trauma in your background, you may want to consider the support of a therapist to help you through reprogramming your brain to permanently eliminate what’s been unhelpful for a long time.
As you become conscious of the random unhelpful thoughts, begin to replace those statements with something as simple as, “I am well.” Choose statements that are short and easy to remember, so that you can immediately say one upon recognizing an unhelpful thought to override it, canceling it out.
Incorporating new habits takes time and practice — it’s not something that will feel natural or happen overnight so, again, be patient with yourself.
As you incorporate this new habit of changing your thoughts, check in with yourself to see how you feel. Are you sensing a shift in how your body feels? Do you feel lighter? Literally! Negativity can make the body feel heavy. Are you breathing easier? All of these things begin to happen when we replace unhelpful and negative thoughts with positive ones, even if we don’t actually believe them at first — that will come in time.
We’ve all heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” Well, you truly do become what you think and by changing your thoughts, you can change the course of your health journey.
About the Author
Stacey Crew is a certified health coach, organizing expert and author of Mind, Body, Kitchen: Transform You And Your Kitchen For A Healthier Lifestyle. She is the creative force behind the organization technique known as the GoPack Method and an Amazon bestselling author of The Organized Mom: Simplify Life For You and Baby, One Step at a Time.