A couple of summers ago, we went to a national dance competition with my daughter’s dance team. After competing, she placed in the top 10 overall for the solos in her age group.
We were excited and so proud. What we didn’t know was that the competition wasn’t quite over.
Usually, if your solo places in the top 10, we call it a day. But this time it was a little bit different. The top 10 soloists now had to perform a one-minute improvised solo to a surprise song they had not heard before for the judges.
Well, my little 10-year-old had never done improv before. As much as she loves to dance and express herself through the movement and perform, she’s a little bit shy and a little bit reserved. This idea of getting on stage and making something up on the spot in front of the judges and an audience had her feeling scared and really vulnerable.
I stood backstage with her while she waited for her turn to perform. She stood on my feet, facing me and hugging me as if she would never let go. She stayed that way until it was almost her turn, and I needed to go get in my seat to watch.
I gave her a kiss, and I told her it didn’t even matter if she got on stage and her mind went blank, and she just did cartwheels for one minute. The fact that she was facing her fear was amazing.
I sat in the audience watching the girls her age come out on stage one by one, and my stomach was in knots. It was clear that many of these girls, unlike us, had known about and expected this improv portion of the competition.
Finally, they called my daughter’s name. She came on stage and she started to dance. It was amazing. She owned the stage for that one minute. She was confident, beautiful, and didn’t skip a beat. When the minute was over, she exited the stage like she had done that a million times.
I ran backstage as fast as I could, and I picked her up. We were both crying, and I was squeezing her so tight. I have never in my life felt so proud of anything or anyone.
It gets me a little bit choked up even talking about it. It was amazing to watch her go out and conquer her fear like that and do something so hard, scary and unknown.
Her willingness to try something hard, that she wasn’t even sure she could do, blew my mind and filled my heart with more pride than I have ever felt before. I will never forget it.
Borrowing a feeling
About a year later, in a session with my coach, we were talking about some things I had accomplished and how my brain was wanting to see only what was missing or what was next. I was skipping the part where I celebrated and gave credit to myself for what I had done.
She asked me what I would like to feel about these accomplishments. I said I would like to feel proud. However, pride was a feeling that was completely foreign when it comes to myself. I so rarely, if ever, felt proud of myself for anything.
She asked me a question that shifted my brain a bit. She asked me to think of a time I felt proud in my life about anything or anyone.
That was easy. I could immediately go right back to that ballroom in Florida, watching my little girl dance from her heart and right over her fear on that stage. I could generate that feeling immediately just with the memory.
The feeling of pride and love that filled my whole being at that moment as I watched her on stage was not because she is a beautiful dancer. It was about her feeling afraid and doing it anyway. Her choosing to believe in herself enough to overcome her doubt. Her going all-in on trying something new, even if she might mess up.
So the only question became: Can I also believe some of those things about me?
Can I choose to see examples of when I feel afraid and I do it anyway?
Are there times when I have chosen to believe in myself enough to overcome my doubt?
Have I gone all-in on something new, even if I might mess up because of what I want to show myself I’m capable of?
Yes, yes, and yes.
You know what is magic? When I think about those times I have felt afraid and moved forward anyway, I can totally access that feeling of pride for me.
When I think about times I have chosen to believe in myself enough to overcome my doubt, I can close my eyes and feel the feeling of pride rise in my chest.
When I think about the times I’ve gone all-in on something new, knowing I might mess up, and I have shown myself what I am capable of, I feel so proud of myself.
Those thoughts I have about my daughter, I can also choose to believe about me.
Generate helpful emotions
There are so many emotions that are useful and powerful in our weight loss process. When we think about emotions being the fuel for our actions, we can see how important it is to generate or access feelings that will move us forward.
Most of us have inadequacy, shame, frustration, and hopelessness down pat. We can bring those up in our bodies with hardly any effort. Those feelings are what drive us to overeat, to throw plans out the window, ignore how our bodies feel, and give up on our health goals.
We want to learn how to generate and access feelings like love, compassion, gratitude, pride, and patience to use as fuel to take the actions we want to take.
These actions are things like listening to our bodies and stopping when we’re full and paying attention to how food feels in our bodies, and giving it what it needs. Or looking at our missteps with curiosity instead of judgment.
What are some of those feelings you think would be helpful for you in this process?
What might you do if you could feel proud of yourself?
How would you show up with the feeling of love as your fuel?
What if it feels difficult to generate positive emotions?
If it feels hard to generate or access some of those feelings, where could you borrow them from other situations in your life?
Notice I’m not trying to just generate the feeling of pride from nothing. I’m paying attention to what I was thinking or believing at that moment when watching my daughter. What thoughts created that feeling of pride in me?
I spent time noticing the particular thoughts and looking at how they could also relate to me. If I can believe them about her and feel proud, then could I also believe them about me and feel proud?
Look a little bit closer at those arguments that your brain might offer when you try to access this feeling. What exactly is standing in the way of you believing the same thing about you?
We don’t need to add judgment to the mix about these arguments. Just notice them and look at them one by one.
Conversations with yourself
It may sound funny to you but engaging in conversation with yourself is so powerful.
We’re doing it anyway, mostly by default. The conversation is happening. It’s just that most of us think it’s passive. We don’t realize that we can engage and talk back. We can converse, not just be lectured.
We can proactively stop conversations that don’t serve us and start ones that do. We can change the conversation. It just takes recognizing and believing it’s a thing.
If you think I’m crazy, just start listening. Notice what is going on up there outside of your awareness. Wherever you can, borrow feelings from other places in your life to use as fuel to move towards your goals.
This kind of thought work is invaluable on your journey to losing weight for life. If you’re ready to get started, watch my free video on how to lose the first five pounds — and keep going.