The mind’s wardrobe.

There is a blog (asmallwardrobe.com) about having a minimal wardrobe, and how to manage and create it. As a declared permanent seeker of a simpler life, I was intrigued by it immediately. Therefore, I wanted to give it credit for the curious mental exploration which followed.

It seems I have been uncluttering my mind, feelings, and lifestyle for a couple of years, but not until now have I found a name to describe the results. After so much work, I have the “fabulous mind wardrobe” I’d always wanted. Yes, I have a healthy mind wardrobe!

I took out and finally let go of many thoughts and ideas that were no longer useful for me. Some I didn’t like anymore, others were obsolete or too vintage, some no longer fitted me. The 20 year old girl stuff has nothing to do with the 40 year old woman I am today. Also, I let go of thoughts that were given to me as gifts, or forced on me as the way some things should be. Even though I still need to get rid of some boxes full of stored negativity, bad memories, and self-judgment, it feels so good now, all the unclutteredness and space for change and growth.

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I can open my mind’s wardrobe at any time now without cringing, have a look and feel satisfied. I kept what I really like, what fits and helps me live my life in a good way. It is enough and contains simple thoughts of gratefulness and positivity for everyday use together with a beautiful collection of designer quotes ready to save any occasion.

Some of my favorite designer quotes include: “Only love today” by Rachel Macy Stafford , “Nada te turbe, nada te espante…” by Teresa de Avila, “Life is both brutal and beautiful, brutiful” by Glennon Doyle, “Enjoy the gift of an ordinary day” by Katrina Kenison, “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind” by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, “The love of a single heart can make a world of difference” by Immaculee Ilibagiza, “You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging” by Brené Brown, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change” by Brené Brown,  “You don’t need to come with the answer right now “ by Bernadette Noll.

I guess as time goes by there will be need to do some more uncluttering again. I’m open to possibilities because health comes from the inside out.

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Choose to be kind and grateful.

Images from the web

 

 

Some thoughts on emotional eating and binging.

Emotional eating and binging are two different things but have two characteristics in common: Both are NOT about lack of willpower and both happen if, and only if, stress is present. Some people stop eating whenever stress is present but most will look for food (or other stuff) either consciously or unconsciously when their level of stress rises.

Emotional eating is defined as “an increase in food intake in response to negative emotions”.  Simply put, we use emotional eating as a strategy to deal with uncomfortable feelings. The truth is, nobody likes ‘uncomfortable’ and most of us are ill equipped to deal with feelings anyway. We have been taught to suppress them. Society frowns upon those who express authenticity in their feelings even if they do so in an acceptable way. We are also taught from an early age that strong emotions go hand in hand with food. This is valid and understandable because, physiologically, food works as a numbing agent, hence helping with the uneasiness that comes with certain emotions.

As we grow up, we tend to forget that emotions are meant to be experienced and felt even when uncomfortable. We really try not to experience the sensations they bring with them and the vulnerability they confer, therefore losing emotions’ real purpose along the way. You see, feelings must be acknowledged and felt through in order for them to fade away and leave their teachings behind. If we bury them, it will not be without negative consequences. Practicing getting to know you, that is, how you would feel if no one was telling how you were supposed to feel is a wonderful tool against emotional eating. Thus, embracing your true self will allow feelings to flow more easily.

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Binge-eating, on the other hand, is defined as “a serious eating disorder in which you frequently consume unusually large amounts of food and feel unable to stop eating”. There is a spectrum here as to severity, ranging from once every while to daily, with or without purging. Nevertheless, binging is a compulsion and we usually don’t know that it is useless to fight against it…sooner or later we will always be defeated and left only in confusion, shame, fear and powerlessness.

So, what to do? First, remember this has nothing to do with willpower. Binging (any kind) is an unstoppable survival mechanism from our nervous system. Second, remember binging is a compulsion and as such, it comes to us in waves. Anyone who has had the chance of swimming in the ocean knows it’s easier to let go and ride the wave than to fight it. Last but not least, binging always has a teaching to offer.

This gives us a new way of looking at the situation. Instead of declaring binging an enemy, let’s befriend it. Our body is always trying to find balance, so being in stress and eating too much is a correction course. So explore and see what you are truly hungry for: Maybe you are deficient in nutrition for being on a diet constantly. Maybe you are low on essential fat, carbs or calories. Maybe you usually skip breakfast and then are too busy for lunch so at night you are ravenous. Maybe you over exercise. Maybe you have been denying yourself pleasure for a long long time. Maybe you are trying to have too much control around food, relationships, work. Maybe you are unhappy about __________(fill in the blank).

Remember that in order to binge, you have to be under stress. Always try to break the stress response according to your circumstances: Take a walk, go outside (walking around your desk might help too). Take several deep breaths. Take a shower or a bath. Drink water. Lay down for some minutes (or more), breathe and play some music.

If nothing works then make it pleasurable: Take out a bowl and place some comfort food in it, then sit down, breathe, decide to enjoy it, breathe again and eat it very slowly savoring it. All these actions will relax you and will help to transform the binge into a pleasurable treat.

But if all is lost,  the most important thing to do is be kind to yourself. Remember habits are hard to break and require practice, practice, practice. And everyone overeats from time to time even if no one admits it.

We are unique beings so we have to individually listen to our own body. Get curious, investigate and see what it needs. Find a proper binge, something you are passionate about and make time for it, let it be your new indulgence.

It is important to know that quick fixes are predictable long term failures. So step by step, small daily changes lead to less emotional eating and binging.

Choose to be kind and grateful. 

Image from the internet

The perfectionism-self image issue.

Perfectionism may show up in many areas of life in different forms and degrees. At first, there’s the belief that perfectionism is a wonderful self motivation tool that will help us better ourselves. Then, it gives us a strong illusion of control over self and the environment. Towards the end, it affects the way we think, live and enjoy life. Deep inside us a never ending battle begins: fear, shame and stress take over, and feelings of unfulfillment and unhappiness prevail no matter what.

In reality, perfectionism is “Self abuse to the highest degree”. I insist, do read this again please: Self abuse to the highest degree. 

Since self image is the idea one has of one’s appearance, abilities, and personality, our image of perfection is the reason we reject ourselves. Self abuse comes from having an image of what it means to be perfect and never being able to measure up to that ideal.

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Perfectionism and shame lead to psychological self abuse by affecting the way we think about ourselves (self image) and the world around us; it may also lead towards physical self abuse in the form of excess work, over-exercise, drastic unhealthy diets or eating disorders; and spiritual self abuse in strong feelings of unworthiness and frustration for lack of willpower. Perfectionism can only limit and constrict, it could never provide growth.

Perfectionism and shame always go hand in hand. When a person is asking too much of herself (himself) without any compassion, the –I’m not good enough– belief unavoidably establish itself inside her(his) head. It is the reason why we don’t accept ourselves the way we are, and why we don’t accept others the way they are. A life style that often leaves us in suffering.

The perfectionism-self negative image issue affects not only the way we look at life but sooner or later it affects our health too. It is a fact that this issue produces the kind of stress leading to hormonal imbalance, weight issues, metabolism and  immunity problems, mood changes, imbalanced diets, binging, guilt, shame, food deprivation, sleep issues, heart conditions, etc. In order to take care of ourselves it is necessary to identify and accept perfectionism and then, start to eliminate all practices and habits that support it.

Healing perfectionism and self image is not just a decision, it is a journey and it’s a journey that seldom happens alone. It requires patience, perseverance and support but most of all it needs kindness. This journey, although not easy, is essential to physical, spiritual and emotional health and happiness. As a rehabilitated perfectionist, believe me, I know.

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Choose to be kind and grateful.

Images from the web

Intruder alert: Food obsession present.

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Out of all the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings within us, our obsession with food and body is seldom considered a health threat. In fact, it is accepted as the healthy thing to do and sometimes it is even admired and glorified.

Although not true for everybody, it is common for us to spend part of the day wasting time and energy on food related thoughts like: Food quantities, which foods are “bad”, which foods are “good”,  at  what time is best to eat, try this old diet, try that new diet, try a detox, read about food, count calories, etc. It is also common to let ourselves be consumed by negative thoughts such as: I don’t look like I “should”,  I am not thin enough, not muscular enough, not attractive enough, etc.

This kind of thoughts have a strong tendency to become obsessions.  It is a fact that there are people who never have a need to diet. Yes, these people exist. But the truth is that most of us are either new to dieting or have been chronic dieters for years and we are all equally sorrounded by a collective obsession on food. An obsession that blinds us and in some cases, consumes us. This obsession on food and body  may become an intruder who slowly poisons life’s good moments.

On the other hand, we are also sorrounded by tons of information from friends, experts and all kinds of media. As a result, the good foods vs bad foods debate becomes a constant presence everywhere. Since some people choose to eat vegetarian, some choose a high protein diet, some eat gluten free, fat free or low carb, some eat all organic, the “perfect food or diet” debate never ends.

Over time, many discover that the perfect eating approach only works for a while and gives temporary results. We realize that the constant struggles of daily life, together with this obsession, eventually end up leaving us frustrated, anxious and full of disappointment.

Therefore, obsessing with food and the body we “should” have is just the tip of an iceberg in a constant search to fulfill the need to feel good about ourselves and live a happy life. There is an urgent need to be aware of this, let go and start working towards self consciousness, listen to our own bodies’ signals and symptoms, discover what is good for ourselves in an individual way. Also, it is important to learn that food is not the enemy, it exists to nourish us, to give us joy, vitality and health.

Lets discover what our own body needs, explore, heal and find a new path to health and happiness through small daily changes and self-awareness.

Choose to be kind and grateful. 

Image from the web.

 

 

About a mirror challenge.

 

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?”

I have been ‘face to face’  with an array of mirror references these past couple of months. Things like: “The power of looking at yourself in the mirror”, “mirror exercises”, “mirror therapy”,  “affirmations in front of mirror” and such things just kept appearing in my life via conversations, classes, books, tv programs and movies.

So, I got interested in the subject and paid attention. I even read some more about it and experimented with it. I discovered that sometimes we look at ourselves in the mirror and get a very satisfying result, but also discovered that mostly when we look, when we really look, the results are not so satisfying.

Sometimes we observe and what happens next goes like this: We look too old, too tired, too skinny, too fat, too weird, too tall, too short, big this, small that, too wrinkled, too young, too hairy, too big, too small, etc. Also, on rare occasions, we may even look at ourselves with such daring attention that we achieve eye contact with our reflection and we do not like what we see or how we feel.

On the other hand, while practicing and experimenting on myself, I discovered a doorway to amazing thoughts and feelings to work upon. It was really interesting.

So I thought I could share some simple ideas in case anyone got interested and wanted to try working a little on self discovery, self care and self love through mirror work. It requires daily practice and some courage.

Practice A: Learn to look at youself in the eyes in front of mirror for some minutes and then say to yourself: “I love you” several times each day.

Practice B: Get in front of mirror and promise yourself: “I will take care of you and even if it takes a lifetime, I will learn to love you, you have my deepest commitment”.

Practice C: Look at yourself and for each thing you see that you don’t like, find two things that are good about your body or yourself (one per day).

Practice D: Smile daily in the mirror and dance! Just move and enjoy being alive.

 

Choose to be kind and grateful.

Image from the internet.