Over the next several months, I will be sharing excerpts from my memoir that I'm writing, titled Digesting Life. The story of my struggle and recovery from an eating disorder is the basis for what led me to create the KARMA Method, the signature coaching and therapeutic method used by Bespoke Wellness Partners. My hope is that maybe some of these stories will resonate with you or make you more aware of where you are on your specific journey with whatever struggles you may be facing. Last week, I provided tips I’ve learned that can help you to stop feeling overwhelmed.
I wanted to disappear and evaporate from this world. I thought that I was a burden to it, my family, the kibbutz, everyone. I told myself that I was fat and stupid. I stood in front of the mirror and lifted my shirt. All I saw were bones pushing through my skin. It was the strangest thing in the world: I saw bones, but I still felt fat. My face seemed long and thin and when I got closer to the mirror, I noticed some extra facial hair that I hadn’t had before and my nose seemed bigger. Who WAS this person?
I locked the door, took a chair, and placed it in front of the mirror. I took my shirt off and my pants and stood there for a few moments, naked. The mirror was my enemy and I just stood there looking at it.
What have I done to myself? I wondered. Where is me? Happy me? Outgoing me? I was buried inside that body that was reflected in the mirror. I looked down at my belly again and it was also covered with fuzzy hair. I wondered, “What is happening to my body? Am I sick? Maybe I should yell and ask for help.”
My mind was racing and my heart was beating even faster than before. I had to lie down and relax my mind. I felt that my body and my mind were two different people who were totally disconnected. I lay in bed and tried to calm myself down, but I couldn’t. So I took the cigarette that I had taken from my mom during my last trip home and lit it. I pushed my head back and felt a rush of lightness in my head.
Why was this happening to me? What did I do wrong? It was as if God were sending me the clear message that I had nothing to seek in this world anymore. Maybe he is telling me to ask for help?
Over the next few weeks, I isolated myself socially. I truly felt that everybody hated me and wanted me to fail in school and in life. People around me kept telling me that I was too skinny and that I needed to be hospitalized, and it felt as if they had all teamed up against me in a strange way. I was feeling very insecure and immersed in a very competitive environment that emphasizes education. When I looked around me, I saw successful smart people who seemed confident, loved, and happy. I felt so unhappy, and the idea of my continuing to live this way terrified me.
Was I really living? I had learned to sit with my hunger pains and didn't have much of an appetite. I skipped many meals and I realized that it felt good to punish myself—but It didn't eliminate the feelings of worthlessness and self hatred. When I looked in the mirror, I saw my protruding stomach and squishy arms. I squeezed the extra fat on my legs and hated myself even more.
At this point in my life, I never considered that my thoughts were not REAL. Did you ever think about your thoughts? What are they? Are they real? Do you ever question your thoughts? Doubt them? After battling my eating disorder for over 10 years and working hard through the many steps (which ultimately became the basis for my KARMA Coaching Method), I can share with you this much: Your thoughts might not be all that you think they are. And that is very good news to many of us!
You are NOT your thoughts.
So, what are our thoughts?
If you’ve ever done research on the amount of thoughts we have per day, you may have come across data that states humans have about 50 to 70,000 thoughts per day. It can be overwhelming to read such a number and think about how much work our minds do in order to store each and every one of these thoughts. However, according to the NLP Communication model or Neuro-Linguistic-Programming (see Figure 1 below), our minds use “separate individual filters, which are determined by our perceptions of time, space, matter, and energy, as well as the language we use, our understanding of words and gestures, our memories, the unique way we go about making decisions, the patterns we look for when selecting information, our values and beliefs, plus our overall attitude. We then delete, distort, and generalize information according to our unique filters.”
So maybe you realize that you are not your thoughts—an important step of Awareness—but our minds often focus on the negative thoughts, which can be extremely intrusive. Our thought process is made up of the subconscious and the unconscious. We can usually identify our subconscious thoughts, but our unconscious is the part of our being that represses the unpleasant memories that are often the root of why you are having these negative thoughts and feelings in the first place.
All of this can seem very complex, but simply acknowledging that you are not your thoughts is a big first step in recovery. I encourage you to write down the negative thoughts in your head, as I did above in the excerpt from my memoir. Can you look at your thoughts down on paper and tell yourself that just because you have these thoughts doesn’t make them real?
Tip 1: Identify your thoughts and write them down.
The first and most important thing that you have to do is identify your thoughts and write them down on a piece of paper or name them in your head in a simple way. Doing this will help alleviate your anxiety by at least 10% so go ahead and try that. Can you look at your thoughts down on paper and tell yourself that just because you have these thoughts, it doesn’t make them real? I tried that several times until it clicked for me that it was actually true.
Tip 2: Ask yourself, “How is this affecting me and why?
If you are feeling consumed by your thoughts and feel that they are controlling you, then you have to do the following: Ask yourself how what is happening is affecting you. Emotionally? Cognitively? Physically? The next question is why is this affecting me? My answer was that I was overthinking and feeling overwhelmed because I was sensitive to others and very considerate of what is happening to others especially when it comes to food and my body.
Tip 3: Ask yourself the following question: “Can I do anything about it?
If the answer is yes, then you will do whatever it is you can do to make yourself feel better and gain some control over your life. If the answer is no, then you MUST let your thoughts go and accept whatever it is that is happening to you. This one is simple...
Tip 4: What you tell yourself is the MOST important thing.
If you are thinking that you are not good enough or not beautiful enough or whatever it is that you might be thinking about, then guess how you will feel? You are most likely going to feel lost, sad, frustrated, and just have a negative feeling. What if right this moment you decided that you will be thinking the following going forward, “I am a beautiful person and I am a kind considerate human being…” How do you think you are going to feel? Go ahead...give yourself some positive feedback and words that will make you feel better. After all, you are the one who can be in control of your own thoughts.
Before you can Release The Past, another step on the KARMA Method journey, you have to develop a significant Awareness of not just your thoughts, but how those thoughts are tied to your emotions and behavior. Sometimes it takes a trained professional to help you work through these things—I did not get here on my own! If you’re looking for help, it can never hurt to reach out.
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With much love,