The Power of Belief

In my last two posts I talked about cultivating awareness and using gentle questioning to consider automatic behaviors. 

Today I want to talk about belief. 

I will start by sharing a personal story. For the past 15+ years Tom and I have gone on a tropical vacation for the winter holidays. Traditionally I spent the months before vacation exercising ferociously and severely restricting my diet so that I could be "bikini" ready. I repeated this behavior year after year.

Eventually the dieting and exercising stopped working as well, most likely because my body was inflamed from the chronic cardio and calorie restriction. This pushed me to work even harder, which led to more inflammation. I think this behavior also freaked my body out, causing it to hold on to weight as a defense mechanism. 

You can read in My Story about the relief I discovered as I adopted a primal lifestyle. I gave up dieting and restriction. I felt free and joyful and in love with my strong, healthy body. 

And then the month leading up to our annual tropical vacation arrived. 

All of a sudden my clothes felt tight. I started saying critical things when I looked in the mirror. I compared myself to others. I began to over analyze my carb and fat ratios. I was eerily intrigued when I heard Chris Kesser talk about the miracle "potato only" diet. The non-stop monkey chatter gave me an unnerving sense of misalignment with the primal lifestyle values I've adopted.

I don't want to diet or exercise excessively ever again, but my brain was telling me that it was time to do just that! 

When I purposefully engaged in practices to quiet my mind,  I realized that I was subconsciously slipping into a decade old belief system. For so many years I believed that I had to deprive and exert myself excessively before a tropical vacation. These were my conditioned behaviors and my conditioned thought patterns. I'd been practicing this belief for so many years, and let me tell you, it has proven to be powerful and difficult to shake. 

But I AM shaking it, one day at a time. It has been uncomfortable, but I know that I am learning and growing in this place of discomfort. 

Perhaps you are feeling stuck as you confront conditioned beliefs. If so, I'd like to share the practices I've been using the past two weeks.  

I've tried to observe my critical thoughts instead of attaching to them. When I observe my thoughts I realize that it isn't "me" saying those mean things. I can detach from my monkey mind and approach the thoughts with curiosity. It was too big of a jump to change the thoughts right away, so I just practiced observing them. 

 I took little action steps to feel better. For example: 

  • I chose to wear clothing that made me feel confident.

  • I completed small tasks (paying bills, cleaning out a drawer, sending thank you cards) that made me feel successful.

  • I honored my self-care routine. I went on long walks and practiced yoga. I really connected to my body in these activities, appreciating my health and strength.

  • I said "no" to things that didn't feel aligned, without guilt. 

  • In the midst of it, I didn’t try to pretend I was feeling great. I let myself be in the emotions; I allowed myself to feel them.

  • Throughout it all, I knew the emotions would pass.

I invite you to take a moment and consider your long-held beliefs.

  • Do you believe that releasing weight is impossible for you?
  • Do you believe that releasing weight is about deprivation and discomfort? 
  • Do you believe that your body is unworthy of respect and love? 

I would love to hear your thoughts! Did this resonate with you? Do you have tips to share?