When your mind is watching your thoughts, it cannot be in your thoughts.
You are either actively thinking your thoughts or you are watching them.
This is one way to temporarily pause a strong emotion or feeling if you are overwhelmed.
Your thoughts create your emotions, so retraining your brain to become aware of your thoughts when you find your mind racing is a great way to become more aware of what is causing that emotion.
Being curious about your thoughts is a great way to watch them neutrally and bring yourself back to center.
This technique can help you if you have a tendency to be anxious, to catastrophize or snowball when something negative or difficult occurs.
I am still discovering thoughts that I never knew existed until they occur and elicit a strong emotion in my body.
We tend to notice our emotions more quickly than our thoughts. Our feelings command our attention. Ever felt scared, startled, or frustrated? I usually react to these emotions before I am consciously aware of what thought has caused them.
So how can we harness this skill to help us with our journey in life and eating healthy?
Whenever you find yourself in the pantry, driving through the drive-thru, standing at the freezer eating ice cream or otherwise pining for a sweet or savory treat, check in with your brain. What thoughts are you having? Where is your mind going? What are you thinking about that is causing you to eat RIGHT NOW.
I have trained myself to watch for (aka notice) a feeling of resistance inside me when discussing a topic or navigating a circumstance that is uncomfortable or different for me.
This resistance usually means there’s an underlying thought or belief that is butting up against the current thought or situation.
For example, when I feel uncomfortable, sugary food is my savior, my distraction, my hero. It comforts me and transports me away from the sensation in my body (aka my feeling I’m trying to avoid).
Also, I have noticed that my brain is pretty sneaky, it likes to avoid me and run away when I am looking around and cleaning out old/outdated thoughts and ideas.
For example, one of my defensive mechanisms is to be logical and analytical to avoid feeling (man I could probably write a book on this one). This coupled with eating delicious treats were my two solid ways of coping for years. It didn’t make me healthier, but it sure as heck allowed me to avoid feeling those icky feelings.
When I made the choice to be healthier in both mind and body, I sought ways to work through my mind drama and face my difficult feelings in a more healthy, productive way.
I have had to learn to notice a feeling and then shift to looking for the thought behind it. This one technique has helped me immensely.
If you are not well versed in noticing your thoughts or stopping your thought spiral as your emotions build, put it into practice, see what happens. I promise you that it will change your life if you practice it and master it.
At first it may be challenging, or you might identify situations in hindsight where it could have worked but you forgot to try it.
No worries, better late than never. This one simple skill can transform your life.
The more you practice, the easier it gets to do in the moment (like riding a bike, right?).
Start this week – when you notice a strong emotion – practice asking “what thoughts am I thinking right now” and see what comes up.
Have a fantastic week my friends!