Day 32.5

Rob Writes….

I understand your allergies must be pretty bad. Despite your allergies and construction woes, what can you be thankful for?

A lot of factors go in to determining your success. A big factor is Gratitude. As you know, struggling with weight and depression involves a lot of negative self-talk and complaining which are habits formed to sustain your weight and depression; it’s circular. Part of retraining your habits is changing every complaint to a thought of gratitude.

For example: “My place is a mess because of my construction woes,” can be changed to, “Thank God I’ve got a gorgeous penthouse that can be under construction.” “I’ve got terrible allergies,” can be changed to, “In terms of health ailments I could be suffering from, allergies are pretty benign and manageable.”

I’m not suggesting that you should always put a happy face on in less than desirable circumstances – when something sucks, acknowledge that it sucks and then choose a different perspective to move beyond it.

But know that complaining is a little addictive too because we’re all addicted to one thing – being right! We wouldn’t complain or get involved in negative self-talk if we didn’t believe we were right or wanted to convince everyone else we were right as well. To a positive suggestion of joining the Y, you reinforced how difficult your situation is by saying you’re in “survival mode,” your allergic reaction is “tremendous,” that you’re “sneezing your head off,” that your nose is a “dripping faucet,” and that you can’t even contemplate exercise. Your habit of negative self-talk always asks you to locate an excuse to prevent you from being successful and you elaborate on how dire the excuse is to prove that you’re right. But it’s not a conscious process, this is your weight talking, this is your negative self-talk, this is your low self-esteem: “I can’t exercise because of A and B and C, but let me explain further why A and B and C are so terrible so that you’re as convinced as I am that I can’t do it! That way, I don’t have to think about being successful because all I really want is to escape the responsibility of achieving and living up to my success because I’m afraid of failing.” Remember, these aren’t necessarily conscious thoughts but the terrible cycle of negative self-talk and depression and it must be broken.

It’s taken me years to get over my negative self-talk, to dig myself out of depression, and still I struggle nearly every day with it. But what helps is gratitude. Even if it doesn’t get you moving physically, mentally it moves you in the right direction.

I’ll paste a part of gratitude that I’ve written before:

“Or maybe you can help but feel grateful, stuck as you are in the habit of thinking negatively about your every experience. When I just mentioned that you could be thankful for your body or your friends or your job, did any thoughts cross your mind like, “My body’s too ugly to be grateful for” or “I may have friends but not the kind of friends I want” or “Why would I be thankful for a job that I hate?” If you are someone who instinctively considers the negative, let’s go deeper than gratitude and let me rephrase the question.

Are you happy?

You may wonder why I would ask such a thing in place of what you are thankful for, but the truth is gratitude and happiness are so connected that one could state with confidence how highly you rate on one based on how you answer the other. Moreso than love, spirituality and forgiveness, gratitude has been found to be one of the strongest correlators to how satisfied we are with our lives. So often we can take the simple pleasures for granted and complain about what we don’t have. Some spend their whole lives chasing happiness like a dangling carrot, that a car or house or relationship or certain number on the scale is all that stands in the way of certain bliss. But recognizing the gifts in your life right now gives you happiness right now. It reminds you to enjoy the gifts you have, to derive the greatest pleasure from them and appreciate what is good in your life.”

I share this with you now to help reinforce the necessity of perspective in the face of diversity. Trust me, you are not in “survivor mode” because of allergies and construction. I’ll say again that how you react to your obstacles will determine your success. There will always be allergies, construction, an ex-, a disappointment. Reverend Michael Beckwith said, “Nothing new can come into your life until you’re grateful for what you already have.” Believe him.


5 thoughts on “Day 32.5

  1. Hang in there! Renovations are not fun. We are renovating with a toddler. Yep, so if i can survive renovations, anyone can. Think of how great your place will be. One day at a time, one meal at a time. On that note, I am going to my first zumba class tonight, a bit terrified but, also excited that I am tring something new!

  2. Bravo to Rob for being so very honest with you Wendy, I think you have finally found your gaurdian Angel (or your nemesis depending on how you want to look at it). Be thankful for having him in your life if for nothing else today, because clearly his is the gift you have been searching for. He is watching out for you Wendy, be thankful for that !!
    Maya Sietske

  3. Dear Rob and Wendy,

    Thank you for giving me the oppportunity to share my thoughts with you. On gratitude and happiness, this time. I hope you don’t mind me mirrorring the things you said.

    I adopted an Irish saying for daily use: ” If life gives you scraps, make quilts”.
    and God knows, I’ve received my portion of scraps. So be it. Gratefulness has everything to do with that. I am overweight, but my body still works. Thank you. I am overweight, but I’m not afraid to look in the mirror. My body is a battlefield, but it is my battlefield. So I cherish it. I can look at it without judging it. I can make fun of it without being unkind to my body. I accept my body for what it is, I’m not repulsed by the muchness of my flesh. Thank you for that. But I know that for reasons of health, some of it has to go. And so I am to participate in a medical trial to find out if obese people without diabetes (like me) respond just as well to a hormonal weight loss treatment as obese people with diabetes do. It is no health hazard (the medication has already been approved) and even if I am given the placebo, the 56 week trial will keep me under a dietician’s supervision every two weeks, and my health will be observed quite sharply.

    Gratitude: “The Secret” (you know, the book) makes a big thing out of it. But in my childhood every Roman Catholic child grew up with little prayers at the beginning and the end of the day, saying thanks. And we sang lovely little songs on the subject. It is so old, this notion of being grateful, but we tend to forget it, being under pressure as we all are.

    Are you happy? Am I happy?
    No, I’m not, not constantly and everlasting. But the moments of sheer happiness are registered in my system. And what strikes me, is that in my case they all have to do with moments when I am not under any pressure. There is an inner silence, an inner retreat, a moment in time where my only job is to sit still and be. Sometimes for a practical reason: sitting in the September sun with my new born baby girl, who has to be in the sunlight because she was born “yellow”. I just sat there, with her, in the mellow afternoon, doing what I had to do: sit still and allowing th sun to heal her. Sheer bliss.
    Another one: a summer holiday in the French region of Bretagne (Brittany). We are on the boulevard near the beach. My daughter is about a year old. She sits on my lap, dozing off in the sun, being lulled to sleep by the warm breeze and the sounds of crying sea gulls. Again: peace and quiet, no disturbances. A long time ago (the baby girl is nearly 19 years old now) but still as heart warming as ever. Happiness within myself or with a loving companion: it shows itself after the excitement is gone.

    There were other times when one would expect to be over the moon with happiness. Winning a opera competition, being in the spot lights, making the TV News: it meant nothing to me in terms of happiness. It was success, and that is altogether another issue in my book. Do you think we tend to confuse the two?

    Do we need stillnes to be happy? How do we shut up our negativity? Should we shut up our negativity? Is it just a matter of semantics? Are we not to acknowledge how we feel, even if we are in a mental ditch? I don’t know. A smile that is not real (be happy! be happy!), turns into a mask. A feeling of negativity may also help us spark a sense of realism, and help us fix our problems. Diving into reality and telling it as it is (like you did Wendy, when describing the dusty state of your otherwise lovely apartment) may also help you to tackle the problem. After having eaten some lovely Wok food, of course: healthy and fresh and low in calories and affordable. Only then a negative attitude won’t wear you down, I guess.

    Shakespeare: brevity is the soul of wit. I’m not from that school, as you can see.
    If brevity is the soul of wit, length must be the body of it.


    • Holy smokes Marianne.. I think you have found a public platform to ‘ air out’… fantastic! I’m pleased we are all in ‘this’ together! big warm hugs.. lets’ skype soon!

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