I have a therapist friend who says we all have, “monkey brains.” Meaning that sometimes our brains can jump around from thought to thought. And at times a thought pops into your head and you may be like, “AHHH. Why did I just think that?!”
Now I’m not a therapist, so you can take or leave everything I’m about to say. But there are certain things I’ve learned that have allowed me to live a better life and I want to share those things with you as often as I can.
One of those tidbits of knowledge is: You don’t have to believe what you think.
Many thoughts we think can be distractions.
We don’t have to latch onto all thoughts. There are some thoughts we should acknowledge and let them flow by. We only want to grab onto the thoughts that are in line with our values.
Something I discuss with clients is how their thoughts and feelings can impact their behaviors around food.
For example, take the below situation…
You can’t change the thoughts you have. Again, we have monkey brains that will come up with completely unhelpful thoughts.
We just want to start making room for new thoughts.
For example, if I was to say the nursery rhyme, “Mary had a little _____”. You would automatically say “lamb.” That it the first thought you had. But what if we made room for new thoughts? What if Mary had “a little plane ticket to Bali“?
The idea is to make room for new thoughts so you can interrupt the current unhealthful thoughts-feelings-negative behaviors cycle BEFORE you engage in a particular behavior.
As humans, we can think about our thoughts. As far as I know, animals can’t think about their thoughts. That’s why when I’m on a walk with my dog and she see’s the mailman she thinks, “I have to get that mailman.” She can’t think, “Oh. Let me see if the thought to get the mailman is in line with my values.” She doesn’t have the brain development to realize that acting according to instincts and acting according to values typically results in different actions. Honestly. I don’t think I realized this when I was in my eating disorder. I viewed the thoughts I had as facts to live by. I needed my frontal lobe to develop before I could reason better.
But now I know that as humans, we can think about our thoughts. And then we can make room for new thoughts when we have self-awareness of where those old thought patterns take us.
So what does this cycle look like if we can make room for a new thought? See below.
The first step is having self-awareness. Realizing how certain thoughts and feelings drive you to act.
The next step is defining your values. How can you know if your thoughts are getting in the way of living out your values if you don’t know your values? If your value is being thin…realize you don’t have time for that shit. Go to a coffee shop. Sit down for an hour and think about what you value.
When you have a thought, think “is this thought in line with my values? Should I cling on to this thought, or acknowledge this thought and then let it float away?”
If you have a difficult relationship with food and your body, I hope you will look into my online course and see if it is something that resonates with you.