I currently weigh 103 lbs. I’ve never weighed more than 110 lbs, not counting pregnancy. My lowest adult weight was 98 lbs. Despite these facts, I am guilty of “feeling” fat more often than thin. I’m saying this to show how skewed our thoughts can be yet how we convince ourselves that they are true. A huge learning curve for me has been to accept that my thoughts are just that – my thoughts. Sometimes they are right. Sometimes they are wrong. And sometimes they are very very wrong. I used to consider my thoughts to be facts. I’m learning that my thoughts are just automatic brain reflexes, and for me these are often unhelpful reflexes. My goal has been to train myself not to rely on these automatic reflexes for my complete understanding of the world. This takes practice. It means I need to recognize when I am thinking in an unhelpful way and then to consciously redirect my thinking. I actually have a printout for myself. It’s highlighted, too. On one side of the page it lists unhelpful thinking habits (e.g. mind-reading, predictions, catastrophising), and the other side, the side that has a lot of highlighting, gives suggestions for alternative more balanced thoughts. Let me give you an example. I’ve been doing some practice around the habit of making judgements. Judging involves labelling something in an evaluative way such as good or bad, valuable or invaluable, right or wrong. A common judgement of myself would be that I’m not thin enough. This is when I would, hopefully, refer to the highlighted phrases and read that I am making an evaluation, and although this is how I make sense of the world it doesn’t mean my judgements are always right or helpful. Then I would look for another perspective. In my weight example, this would obviously be that I actually don’t need to be any thinner than I am. That I should, in fact, be happy with my weight and proud that I take care of myself by eating healthy and exercising. Learning to let go of my judgements is extremely freeing. It’s a process of disentangling my opinions from the facts, which my brain wants to interpret as one and the same. I wish my judgements were always right. Life would be a lot easier and I would feel a lot smarter if this were the case. Maybe when I’m 90 I’ll be able to throw out my handout and know my wise brain is entirely reliable. But for now, the page stays.
Do you ever find it difficult to step back and observe in a non-attached way? What helps you separate your opinions from the facts?