Changing Our Fears

Remember the little mice and their cheese? Sniff, Scurry, Hem, and Haw? Sniff and Scurry kept monitoring what was going on around them and changed when life happened.  Hem and Haw thought a lot about what was going on, focusing on how it affected them. Hem and Haw listened closely to the fearful labels their brains were throwing out: Change is scary! Change isn’t Safe!

Change feels icky if we are in a fearful state of mind.

But if we are in a curious state of mind change can feel like an opportunity.

Change requires learning something new. This takes effort our brain likes to avoid. Learning leads to growth and more change. Our primitive brain is set to make us fear this cycle. It labels everything outside the safe and comfortable cave we are in as SCARY!

It is up to our thinking brain to think thoughts that will generate an emotion other than fear. This new more positive emotion will then drive our actions and we will get a different result. WE WILL CHANGE!

Instead of coming home from work feeling “icky stressed” I think about feeling “relaxed” at being away from work. Instead of covering over the icky feeling with food I choose to do relaxing things to reinforce my emotion of relaxation:

  • Sit in a nice soft chair and put my feet up,
  • take a nap,
  • wait to eat,
  • eat a healthier choice,
  • drink a glass of water,
  • watch my favorite show,
  • walk some dogs at the shelter,
  • catch up on the day with my family,
  • clean a toilet,
  • get a hot shower,

or ANYTHING other than answering my emotions with food. All the above choices are actions I take from a relaxed emotional state to reinforce my thoughts and emotions of being RELAXED.

Choose to use that huge thinking brain you have and make a choice OTHER THAN EATING FOOD! Any other choice, there are literally thousands! A different choice is better for you than the old choice, which keeps unwanted weight on your body.

Pick one opportunity to change today. You will see right away it is not scary; there is nothing to fear. And soon you will be asking yourself: “Why did I wait so long to change?”

 

Clean Up The Labels In Your Brain

To be efficient humans label things.

Thinking a label like “that’s BAD” or “that’s GOOD” triggers a neurological transmitter cascade and we feel an emotion.

The emotion triggers a physiological response and we move.

Our primitive brain constantly uses labels to get things done.

Labels efficiently trigger emotions and actions. ALL UNCONSCIOUSLY!

In caveman days this kept us safe, alive.

Brains throw out negative and positive labels. If you are paying attention to what you are thinking it may seem like there are a lot more negative labels coming out than positive ones.

That is because we use negative labels when we are anxious, fearful, angry, discouraged, frustrated, confused, or bored.

If we allow ourselves to feel this way most of the time our primitive brain will throw out A LOT of negative labels!

My primitive brain uses negative labels to keep me fearful and keep me from harm. The PRIMARY effect this has on me is to keep me from changing ANYTHING.

The SECONDARY effect this has on me is to make persistent thought loops of self-judgment, self-deception and low self-confidence that produce more negative thoughts! Who would want to consciously think this way!!!

We can’t stop our unconscious from brain labeling things for us. The thoughts slip up silently and are just there. I wish I could “reprogram” my brain to stop with the negative labels but my brain isn’t a computer.

If my brain tells me “I’m too old to learn that!”  “I’m too stupid to do that!” “I’m too ugly to be there!” then I don’t learn, experience, or enjoy life as much as I could.

But my primitive brain says, “Stay SAFE and COMFORTABLE with what you have always done and you won’t be harmed!”

My brain labeled a box of doughnuts as a GOOD way to stay SAFE and COMFORTABLE before I realized what it was doing.

My brain labeled the box of doughnuts SAFE and COMFORTABLE because the sugar calmed my fear that “I may never get another chance to eat a doughnut so I have to eat one NOW!” This thought of SCARCITY produced a feeling of fear. I felt so fearful of literally starving I would eat the doughnut to avoid the fear.

The only thing is, I don’t need the doughnut to prevent starving because I can buy a doughnut ANYTIME and ANYWHERE!

Our primitive brain’s strength is AMAZING.

Dr. Andy’s box of doughnuts used to be my Achilles heel. Some days I still want that doughnut, they show up on Fridays when I am tired, ready to relax, stressed from the week’s events and more susceptible to the SCARCITY label that produces my feeling of fear. And doesn’t that sound ridiculous when I say it out loud!

Think about what ridiculous labels you are using out of HABIT.

Find ways to light up your brain without food!

Labels

Why do we like labels so much? We like them so much we attach them to everything.

A label should make it clear as to what is inside, right?

But who put on the label and why should I use a label someone else applied?

Some labels make more sense or are more clear-cut than others. Like “Caution – high voltage!”

Others, like “Low Fat”, are not so clear.

Food labels can suck us into a sense of complacency where we think we know all we need to know after reading the label. Our brains do this because they like easy.

A label pre-filters the information for us, makes sense to our brains because it fills in the gaps and our brain says, “Just do it now!”

To stop and uncover the unconscious thinking our brain is doing we have to question the label as we are looking at it. I used to pick through food labels. I used to think food labels made a difference in my weight loss.

A lot of people think food labels make a difference. After all, our government requires them to exist and Big Food complies by testing ingredients to come up with the numbers on the labels.

But a food label is only a snapshot of that food. Once we put it into our bodies our complex system of homeostasis uses it in ways we are only now starting to understand.

Last week I discussed just one aspect of our modern diet, saturated and unsaturated plant and animal fats. We are still working out the science on fats after 100 years. But focusing on one thing without keeping it in context with the whole body will give only partial information. Because this is the way science currently hypothesizes, there is a lot of room for collateral, unintended consequences to result from the application of partial, out of context information.

John Berardi, Ph.D. and Helen Kollias, Ph.D. produced an infographic that considers why label reading and calorie counting is not an exact science when trying to lose weight.

I have mentioned before that the “calories in = calories out” theory doesn’t fit with the complexity of our bodies. But, remember, our brain wants easy so this way of thinking has taken a strong hold on many of us, for many years.

Over the past few years I have evolved my thinking to make weight loss easy without having to consider all the marketing, opinions, theories, and nutrition science that exists.

Eat whole foods.

Wait to eat until my body is hungry.

Stop eating when I am satisfied.

Listen to how my body and mind feel and function after eating food.

Rinse and repeat. Easy to remember in times of trouble. Simple to accomplish.

This thinking sounds easy but has required practice. My emotional dependence on food as my go to buffering and comforting partner had to be pushed into the back seat first. My emotional dependence on food still speaks up frequently from the back seat in an attempt to gain control over my eating. Sometimes she gets her way. But mostly she doesn’t.

If you like reading labels ask your self why?

If you give yourself permission to eat a processed food because it is low in fat, sugar, salt, or whatever other ingredient science says you should avoid then consider this.

Big food made it. Big food wants to make money and is marketing that food to get us to buy it.

Is it the best thing you can put in your body for yourself today?

Purpose and Inspiration

We all are born with this universal, human purpose in life.

To exist.

That’s it, and it is enough.

This may sound deep but it is really just simple. We are born with our purpose INSIDE us. We don’t have to go and find a purpose; it is already part of us.

Obviously we do not all live our purpose (to exist) the same.

As we go through our lives we gain inspiration on how to live from many places: our culture, our family, the news media, other people, other events. These are all outside inspirations. They pale in comparison to our inside inspirations for giving us the self-confidence to live our lives as we choose.

Use yourself for inspiration.

The best reasons or inspirations for doing anything in life come from our inside.

Think about some strong positive emotions you carry around and how you use them for inspiration

You LOVE your kids.

That is your inspiration for working, paying bills, saving money, keeping healthy.

You CARE about other people.

That is your inspiration for keeping your car mechanically sound, being your patient advocate, helping others in the world.

Our inside inspirations enrich our purpose in life which is to exist.

Anything opposite of our inspirations are uninspiring, boring, uninteresting, drab, dull, spiritless, banal, dreary, humdrum, mundane, unexciting, bland, vapid, flat, insipid, lackluster, lifeless, monotonous, soulless, tedious, tiresome, trite, unremarkable, wearisome, characterless, uneventful, sterile, and ho-hum.

My inspiration for working through my cancer therapies 9 years ago was my daughter; because to me, she represented the complete opposite of all those uninspiring words I just listed.

My inspiration for losing weight is the feeling I have when I bound out of bed eager to get up every day with no carbohydrate hangover, aching joints, or dread of facing the day with low energy.

What is yours?

Look inside and find it. It is there.