When did you become a believer of that thought?
As we grow up, we are socialized and conditioned by those closest to us and our institutions. We learn to conform and to follow the rules.
One of the toughest challenges for me was in middle school. Many of my negative thoughts about myself became beliefs at this time of my life.
If I knew back in middle school what I know now in my 50s, my life would be radically different. I would not have suffered as much because I would have know that I am not my thoughts. I would have known that my left brain was a storyteller and that anytime I was believing a negative thought that caused emotional pain, it was a lie.
All mammals have a reptilian brain that is the oldest and smallest region in the evolving brain. The purpose of the reptilian brain is to pump out survival fears all day long. Martha Beck calls this our ‘inner lizard.’ These fears convince us that we aren’t enough or that we don’t have enough stuff (and never will). We don’t have enough time, money, big enough boobs, aren’t thin enough, smart enough or just plain good enough. This little peanut pumps out fear or the feeling that something bad is about to happen.
When I was in middle school, a boy told me I had skinny legs (calves). This was the first time I had heard this thought. I never knew that my legs were thin. Then when I was in ninth grade, another boy gave me the record, Skinny Legs and All. Around the same time, my sister’s boyfriend started calling me Twiggy.
I became a true believer that my legs must be skinny if boys are telling me this. It became a fact and a ‘story’ that I believed because I never questioned whether it was true.
Here’s how to take back your mind! Learn to question each and every negative thought that you think about yourself to find your personal freedom.
Byron Katie developed a process of inquiry called The Work to question what the mind believes. Here’s how it works:
Original Thought: My legs are skinny.
Is it true? (A yes or no answer)
Yes (if I believe it’s true then it is)
Can you absolutely know it’s true?
How do you react, what happens when you believe that thought?
I believe something is wrong with my legs because they are being called skinny. My legs are ugly. I am not like the other girls. I see my sister’s calves, and they are muscular. I am afraid the boys will tease me again. I want to hide my calves. I want to wear pants.
How have you lived your life with that thought?
I’ve worn pants for more then forty plus years. I am ashamed of my legs because my legs are thin.
Who would you be without that thought?
I would be free from this negative thought. I would feel carefree in skirts or dresses. I would love my legs because I would not have any reason not to love them. My legs are strong and beautiful. They carry me all over the world.
My original thought: My legs are skinny.
Turn it around: My legs are not skinny.
Give three specific reasons why this is as true or truer then the original thought.
- Only three boys in middle school told me this and my legs look totally great today.
- I’ve been strong enough to hike, ski, run, walk, and do all kinds of sports.
- My calves are look normal and are perfect for the proportions of my body.
What do you believe about yourself that hurts?
Find freedom and open your mind.