Posted: 23rd October 2017
The Stories We Tell Ourselves
As humans we often make sense of our lives by telling ourselves stories. It starts very early and we yearn to find the handsome prince or fair maiden and live happily ever after. Of course it doesn’t always work out like that and as we grow up we create a story in our head about who we are – we’re the amusing one, the shy one, the light and soul of any party or perhaps the fat one.
We use words to create our stories and these programme our brains, that incredible computer in your head. As you go through your day, thoughts pop into your head – not one by one but usually all in a jumble and many at a time. One thought triggers another and this is sometimes useful, especially if you are trying to remember something or each connected thought is in some way uplifting. However, our thoughts are usually represented by words and some of these words can trigger negative or unhelpful connections and stories that can leave us feeling flat, empty or even downright miserable and unmotivated.
Just try it for yourself. Let’s recreate a story you tell yourself. Take a piece of paper and in one minute write down whatever comes into your head without censoring when you see the words – what’s on your list? I’d like to bet there are a lot of unhelpful connections there; phrases like “doing without” “starving – oh no not again” and “l’ll fail”. So as soon as the word diet pops into your head, this whole chain of thoughts is automatically triggered. And yet logically “diet” is just the regimen of food that you eat but story associated with it can trigger a very emotional response.
So are you starting to see, how you talk to yourself in your own head can have important repercussions? Let’s take some of the phrases we often hear at the scales.
I’ve had a disastrous week – “ Really?
Did your house burn down?
Has there been a major catastrophe that leaves you destitute?
No I didn’t think so. Yet when our brains hear the word disaster it knows that something really bad has happened and programmes the rest of our thinking accordingly and creates a story. In a real disaster there is often little we can do except wait to be rescued. If you have skipped a few foodpacks and eaten off programme you really can’t sit there and wait to be rescued can you, because the only person that can do something about it is you. How might you think and feel if you were to use the words I’ve made a mistake this week? Does that leave you more room for action and a space to learn something? Can you then think about finding ways of avoiding similar mistakes? Disasters are fortunately rare events. They don’t happen when you stand on a set of scales.
I can’t do that – This is a strange one. There are actually very few things we can’t do. Think back to some of the most difficult times in your life that you have come through. Before they happened, you might have said you wouldn’t be able to bear what took place, that you couldn’t do it. The truth is, we are all amazingly resourceful and “can do” things. I wonder what you really mean when you say “can’t” to yourself. Do you mean “I won’t” do that because I choose not to or “That frightens me”or perhaps “I’m not ready to try that yet as I don’t know how and I need some help”? When you hear that little voice in your head say “I can’t”, stop and ask yourself what you are really saying and then ask what do you really need so you can. And remember, it’s OK to be frightened and to ask for some help that’s why your Practically Slim coach is there!
I’m useless/stupid – This is an amazing story and I wonder who told you that! My belief is that we were all born with the same brains and that we are ALL capable of great things. If we use words that indicate to ourselves and others that we have very little or no value, then we do not need to be responsible for our own actions. The truth is, when you are learning to manage your weight, there are things you don’t know how to do yet and this might include sticking to programme. I would encourage you to use words like “I don’t know how to do that yet”. This gives you the possibility of learning. It’s a bit like learning to ride a bicycle, you need to fall off a few times before you learn to balance and pedal all at the same time. When you fall off, you’re not useless or stupid, you’re just figuring out how to do it properly and when you’ve fallen off enough you’ll get it right.
Here are just three examples of how the words in your head create stories and affect how you think and can change whether or not you are successful in what you set out to do. I certainly don’t want to encourage you to be like Pollyana where the world is always perfect. It isn’t after all. But I would urge you to be more realistic in the way you see what is going on so that the possibility of change becomes easier. After all, the major barrier to achieving what you want is usually yourself!
Spicy Spaghetti Bolognese – when you get home in the dark, cold and tired it’s nice to have this waiting for you. Rich Italian flavours will soon have you warm and comfortable again.
This was the second of Brenda Brown’s TED talks that brought her to prominence in her field. She’s a researcher in human behaviour and here she talks about the stories we tell ourselves that invoke shame and guilt. Her own humour, humanity and vulnerability shine through every word. It’s a little longer than most videos I would normally share but worth sitting down with a coffee and watching. Enjoy!
An increase in the price of sugary drinks in restaurants and the offer of healthier alternatives could encourage customers to cut back on sugar, a study suggests. In Jamie’s Italian restaurants, sales of sugar-sweetened soft drinks declined by 9% following a 10p price rise. The chain also redesigned the menu and explained that money from the levy would go to charity. Experts said more research was needed to pin down what measures worked. Consuming too many sugary soft drinks has been linked to a higher risk of serious health problems such as obesity, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and tooth decay. Read the full article here
Practically Slim offers a variety of weight loss plans together with proven behavioural change group support (TA, CBT, and NLP) to assist with weight loss and long term weight management. You can choose from ketogenic diets where the body burns its fat stores to provide the energy it needs (VLCD and LCD) to Fasting or losing weight with conventional food.
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