Free Your Heart And Your Mind Will Follow

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Yesterday, Caitlin blogged about a post by Kelly about default thinking. Kelly asked her readers if they have one thing that they tend to think about when they aren’t busy doing something.

Such a simple question, but also a very telling question depending on your answer.

Kelly said that she tends to default to running, while Caitlin said that she thinks about blogging.

Some of the reader responses were:

  • Men (husband, boyfriend, etc)
  • Food (What to eat, etc)
  • Competitions
  • Cooking
  • Blogging
  • Running
  • Photography
  • Thesis/experiments

Of course, it made me question my own thoughts…

And then it hit me!

My mind is no longer consumed by negative thoughts about my body, weight, food, and deprivation.

My jaw hit the floor.

I had a huge light bulb moment.

When I was fully consumed by my disordered eating, 99% of my thoughts were negative thoughts about myself. Any time I wasn’t occupied by something else, my thoughts defaulted to things like:

  • How many calories did you eat so far today?
  • How could you not have lost any weight? I need to lose x pounds by Friday!
  • I need to stop eating so much
  • How can I occupy myself so I am not tempted to snack
  • I look so huge in this/my clothes don’t look right/etc
  • I am ashamed to go out and have people see me like this

Even when my mind should have been occupied by other things like school and work, my thoughts still tended to come back to the negative mindset. I couldn’t focus on studying. I couldn’t focus on my relationships. All I could focus on was those negative ‘default’ thoughts.

I had become so accustomed to defaulting to this negativity about myself, I didn’t even question it anymore.

When you tell yourself something for long enough you start to believe it.

I knew no other way. I also said that I would never be able to give up calorie counting because it was so ingrained in my head.

Well, today I realized just how far I have come.

When I set on my journey to free myself from the disorder, I also started to free my heart.

Yes, free my heart.

With each positive thing that I told myself, my heart started to beat stronger again.

I started to feel emotions again.

I started to love myself again.

With each passing week that I chose to be good to myself, I felt free. My mind, body, heart, and soul felt more free than it had for a long time.

With a lot of work, patience, and dedication I was able to slowly replace the negative thoughts with positive ones. For a long time I thought I was fighting a losing battle, but here I am today, sitting here in amazement with how far I have come.

I now know what it is like to have a free mind and to be able to dream, think, ponder, hypothesize, study, analyze, and wonder. And damn it feels GOOD.

Here are some of my favourite default things to think about:

  1. Blogging

All day long I commit parts of my day to memory and store it in my mental ‘blog file’. Note to self: Must write these down because 99% of them are forgotten! I write down some of them, but most of the time I am not near a paper and pen. I need to reintroduce my voice recorder into my life ASAP! lol.

2.  Loved ones

Family, friends, Eric, Sketchie. I often find myself thinking about conversations we had. I laugh about inside jokes. I miss loved ones that I do not get to see often. I spend a lot of time thinking about people that have made a positive impact in my life. And yes that includes some people I have never met! I have been touched by so many kind people in the blog world and I think about their words often.

3.  Running

My upcoming half marathon has been taking up much of my mental space lately. I think about when my next run is, how long it will be, and how running makes me feel. I think about how awesome it is that I have found a sport that I love so much. I also always remind myself who I am racing for: Chris and all others who have been touched by cancer in some way.

4.   Baking

I spend a lot of time creating recipes for Glo Bakery. I am always dreaming up something new that I want to make. I think about the nutrition, ingredients, packaging, cost, etc. I love, love, love creating and testing new ideas. I have so many ideas scribbled down that I have yet to try out.

On occasion, I still struggle with thinking about food too much, especially if my hormones are out of whack and I find myself just wanting to eat a bunch of junk food. Things like this are a trigger for me because they make me feel vulnerable like I used to in the past. I see this as more of a blip on the radar than anything to be really concerned about. Even people who are so called ‘normal’ eaters go through this on occasion.

I think the point of it is that my mind is now free from the obsession and I can think about all of the things that make me happy!

Eric used to tell me that I didn’t have any hobbies. He would always encourage me to find a hobby. He’d say, ‘Ange, you need to find something that you enjoy.

The thing is, for years, my disordered mindset was my hobby.

It took up all of my free time. I literally had no other time in my life for real hobbies!!!!

Until now, it never occurred to me why I didn’t have any hobbies. But now I see it so clearly.

Now that I have given up the obsession, I have all of these hobbies and passions in my life:

I have running, racing, fundraising, blogging, writing, baking, advocating, helping, educating. My life is now so much fuller than it was for years.

Free your heart and your mind will follow.

That is my new mantra.

I encourage all of you who are currently trapped in a negative mindset to take steps to free yourself from it.

How does one free their mind?

This is something that I will save to talk about in another post. But, here is a good trick that helped me:

  • List all of your negative thoughts on paper, cross them out, and write positive ones to replace them. Do it first thing in the morning and right before bed. I strongly suggest that you do this twice a day because when you write your list at night time, you can look and see what was worrying you in the morning. Often, you will realize that your negative thoughts had no basis whatsoever.

So now I ask you…

What are your default thoughts?
Have you ever experienced a change in your default thinking?

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Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending. ~Maria Robinson

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Katie September 26, 2009

Thank you for this amazing post! It is just what i needed to read right now.

What really resonated with me was the part about your negative thinking being your hobby – that is how things have been for me.

Very inspiring and challenging post! Thanks!
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Shannon September 24, 2009

You have found some great replacement thoughts to take the place of your old negative self talk! Sometimes it take a very conscious effort to stop a negative thought and replace it with something more productive. But it’s worth the effort.

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Tay September 24, 2009

Angela – I really cannot wait to read your freeing the mind post. I thought I had moved past my problems with eating, but honestly my mind is still consumed often with thoughts such as what I should eat next, when I should eat, if I felt I had eaten too much that day, trying to tally up how many calories I’d eaten (even though I don’t exactly count calories). Thank you so much for that list approach. I’m trying it starting tonight.

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Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) September 23, 2009

PS. Ironically I always DID have a hobby- but it never stopped me thinking of food :-D

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Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) September 23, 2009

I never had heard of default thinking. When I was working (with my hands) my mind would always wander to past memories- like vacations or events. Then it would certainly go to calories and what I could eat next.

My hubby used to tell me that I should find a hobby and then POOF I’d stop thinking about food all the time. I think that is simplified thinking however. You have to really LOVE a hobby and THEN it takes your mind off other things and feeds positivity into your life. It’s finding that hobby that can take some work!

Thanks for the post!

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digamba September 23, 2009

I’m an amateur orchestral museum, and learning to play competently is my own personal marathon–it’s harder than exercise by far. So when I’m driving, falling asleep at night, taking a brain break at work…I think about playing my instrument!

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Kristin September 23, 2009

I am still working on my default thinking. Negativity is so worked into my brain that I am literally trying to rewire it everyday! It’s hard work but I just love this post and hope to one day have nothing negative to say about myself again.

Also, I finally tried your Pumpkin-Banana-Bran-Oatmeal Muffins and they were amazingly perfect in every way and everyone that ate them also loved them! My new favorite muffin recipe!

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Sarah September 23, 2009

Angela, thank you so much for this post. I am 3.5 years into my recovery process, and I’ve noticed just in the last few months that my “voices” have stopped roaring so loudly. I am able to find myself concentrating on other things. It’s awesome. I love that you articulated this so well. Congratulations, really, on how far you have come-it’s a testament to your hard work, faith in yourself, and positivity.

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Low September 23, 2009

I can totally relate to this post. My default thinking used to be constantly negative. I was lonely, unhappy, and negative toward my body. I was my own worst enemy. I never felt like anything I said or did was good enough. And, like you, I was so consumed with this negativity that I never made time for any passions in my life.

Blogging really helped me break through that pattern, I was able to focus on food in a positive way and connecting with other like-minded people eased the loneliness. Now I feel like I can do almost anything and I have so many new hobbies/passions now.

My default thinking has gone from hating myself to thinking about the awesome dinner I’m going to cook, what I’m going to blog about, or how I can help my friends and loved ones. It’s been so freeing! Thanks for this post.

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April September 23, 2009

My default thoughts right now?

•How many calories did you eat so far today?
•How could you not have lost any weight? I need to lose x pounds by Friday!
•I need to stop eating so much
•How can I occupy myself so I am not tempted to snack
•I look so huge in this/my clothes don’t look right/etc
•I am ashamed to go out and have people see me like this

I’m really trying to think of other things but i’m not quite there yet. If I get off of my “schedule” I go crazy. I can’t believe all those negative thoughts you use to have are the ones I do have. I don’t really consider them negative for me because i’m trying to get somewhere that i’ve been before and know that I love(stage). If I would have read this 3 months ago I would be having happier thoughts. Thanks for the post though because it really makes me think and put things into perspective.

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Majl September 23, 2009

I have actually and modelled it after an organizational mission statement/branded. I asked myself:

1) what do I value?
2) How can I express my values?
3) How to I want to “brand” my relationship with fitness

I came up with my “Hawaii state of mind” and the 5 following words:

Motivation. Inspiration. Achievement. Journey. Renewal.

Each month, I will write about those 5 words and my accomplishments for the month!

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AGS September 23, 2009

Great post! I plan to reread this and think about my “default” thoughts (and need to read the posts that inspired this one.

Do you think there is a difference between “default thoughts” and “obsessive thoughts”?

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Faith September 23, 2009

What a beautiful, insightful post! I love reading your posts because I feel like they’re straight from your heart. Thanks Angela! :)

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Lorie September 23, 2009

Ange-

You are so thoughtful and inspiring to read, and I appreciate your ability and desire to delve deep inside yourself and truly understand how you work and think. Reading your post today made me think of something my sister and I recently talked about–she recently received her Masters degree in Counseling, and we had a conversation about something she learned in her studies. What it boils down to is that, when we are trying to build ourselves back up after forcing multiple levels of negative inner self-talk (thoughts) on ourselves, we cannot truly rid ourselves of this negativity until we SAY OUT LOUD (many times) that we APPRECIATE OURSELVES for who we are. In fact, there have been studies done that prove the need to VERBALIZE and then HEAR these positive thoughts in order truly change the way we feel about ourselves.

In other words, every time you look at yourself in the mirror and think, “Man, I look like crap today” or “I really need to lose X pounds” etc. etc., you cannot turn that negative mindset around until you stand in front of that same mirror and say out loud “I am beautiful” or “I am blessed to be the way I am right now”.

Whether or not every person agrees with this notion, I think it is a great concept for people, particularly those struggling to rid themselves of a negative self-image. Make it part of daily routine and stand in front of the mirror and tell YOURSELF that you are TRULY BEAUTIFUL!

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