I’ve been particularly struck this week by the devastation that occurs when we engage in negative speech toward ourselves and others. It is so common to be critical of ourselves that we are often unconscious of how much we engage in this type of thinking. While we can’t really stop the critical thinking from happening (our brains are apparently hardwired to be particularly fond of a negative thinking style), we can become more aware of the negative thinking. When we become aware, we can step back from the negative thought and acknowledge it from the perspective of being separate from it (not taking it personally). We don’t have to believe a negative thought and we don’t have to feed the negative thoughts. In the process (at least in my experience), the negative thoughts eventually lessen and I am able to gain a wider perspective on myself or the situation—even leaving room for a positive thought to arise. I know that my negative thoughts will re-occur and they often have a familiar pattern to them. I do not expect them to completely go away. Knowing this, I have decided that it’s best to make friends with my brain and the thoughts that percolate up from it. I don’t have to be at its mercy! No self-deprecating thought or negative thought about anyone else is helpful. (This idea might take some time to digest, but give it a try.)
The reason I mention this is because until we lessen the grip of negativity toward ourselves and others, the possibility of taking care of your body, mind, and heart is diminished. The more you think kindly toward yourself and others, the more likely you are to treat yourself and others with care. Being your own best friend translates into eating food that benefits your body and your taste buds, getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, moving your body in a way that feels good, being creative, being friendly and having friends (those two usually go together), and not needing to engage in addictive behaviors to try to fix ourselves (whether that’s through alcohol, food, shopping, overworking, sex, etc.), because there is nothing to fix. Being your own best friend means that you’ve learned to really like yourself.
How does this relate to mindful eating? All of the “diets” or “non-diets” that seem to work in the long term are the ones that emphasize the idea that you have to start with accepting yourself JUST AS YOU ARE. In order to be present with your food, you need to be able to be present with yourself. It is so much easier to be present with yourself when you like yourself.
So, ask yourself how you might more deeply cultivate an appreciation for yourself and your body as well as for the others around you. Maybe start with just saying something positive to yourself today. Remember, your body hears everything you’re thinking!! And, guess what? Other people are pretty good at knowing what you’re thinking, too. Try directing some kindness outwards while you’re at it. Notice what begins to happen to the world when you make this a daily practice.
I would love to hear your thoughts and comments. Know that I’m sending out my love to each and every one of you (and to myself as well).