Something I learned a long time ago was this “your brain believes whatever you tell it”. Good or bad, right or wrong. It cannot make that distinction. I learned that in highschool. I got to go to see a motivational speaker. I never could have afforded it but my bestfriend’s mom had extra tickets. I remember him saying that if you tell yourself you are weak you will actually become physically weak and if you tell yourself you are strong you will become strong. And then he demonstrated it using members of the audience. Well that pretty much set me up for a lifelong love of psychology. Every time I had some crisis I would jump into therapy or buy aself help book. Always determined I could create a better version of myself. Never giving up. I also ended up with a BA in Psychology from York University, in Toronto.
So when really hard things come up I start telling myself new stories to rewire my brain. When I finally quit smoking (after 22 years) I did it by telling myself that I actually didn’t want to smoke, that I wanted to feel good. I never let myself say “I want to smoke” or “I miss smoking”. Ever. It took two years to stop missing it (I really really want to cave in for two years!) and it was really freaking hard but I did it and once I hit the two year mark I never looked back. It became easy. After watching my Mom die of lung cancer that pretty much made it even more clear I would never go back. No amount of life stress or being around smoking (like the two years that my husband struggled with smoking again!!) Would make me change my mind. Never do I ever want to relive those two hard years after I quit. If I had said “this is too hard. I can’t do it” then I likely would have failed. Pretty much guaranteed.
I stopped driving in my 20’s due to anxiety. I just never drove enough to ever get confident. But I knew with certainty that I never wanted to be a mother that didn’t drive. My mom never drove so we grew up taking taxis and buses. When I had my daughter at 40 we bought a second car (one of my excuses for not driving was not wanting to drive a stick shift)and I took baby steps driving. Then I took a defensive driving course (which was amazing and way better than drivers Ed in highschool). I knew if I was going to drive that I wanted to be confident and be able to drive anywhere. It took a lot of work but I did it. I became the driver of many many roadtrips with friends and on my own. I no longer fear highways. I challenge myself to take new routes to get out of my comfort zone. I actually really LOVE driving ❤️
When I was 16 I was in a psychiatric ward due to suicidal behavior. The Dr looked at me and said “pretend you are happy, tell yourself that you are happy, and eventually you will be”. At the time I thought this was the stupidest advice ever. But years later I still remember these words. Tell yourself you are happy. Tell yourself you are beautiful. Confident. Healthy. Loveable.
Now as an adult I still remind myself to filter in positive thoughts. I surround myself with things and people that make me happy. I limit my exposure to toxic people, the news, negativity. And now I need to do the same for my body, my eating, and my health.
I’ve started to do this with food. I tell myself “I want to eat healthy” “I want to feel good” instead of “I wish I could eat chips” or “this isn’t working. I can’t do this”. I know the benefits of “fake it until you make it”.
It just takes practice.