This is Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown, episode 22.
Welcome to Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown. If you’re a successful woman who is ready to stop struggling with your weight, you’re in the right place. You’ll learn everything you need to know to lose weight for the last time in bitesize pieces. Here’s your host, certified life and weight coach Natalie Brown.
Hey everybody. I want to get real-real with you today and share a little bit of the inside of my brain with you. But first, a review. Today’s review comes from Julie and I love the title. “Mind-shifting magic.”
Here’s what she had to say. “Natalie’s podcasts are changing my life. The episodes are short and sweet, and I love how Natalie uses metaphors that are a shortcut for my brain to easily grasp the concepts she is teaching. I love too that she has been there before and has changed her own mindset. She’s very real and listening to her makes me feel like I can succeed at this too.”
Thank you so much, Julie. I am all about the metaphors and the analogies and similes, aren’t I? That’s how my brain synthesizes concepts, by relating it to something else. I’m so glad that it’s helpful to you. You can absolutely succeed. All of you can. I believe it. I know it 100%. Julie, good news, since I shared your review, your gift is on its way. So much fun.
Okay, so there’s this tendency for humans to want to only put out the best parts of us, ourselves, for the world to see. Best foot forward. Social media is kind of the current most popular vehicle for showcasing this, but it’s always been a goal of humans to let the world see only what we want them to see and what casts us in the most favorable light so we can remain in the crowd.
So I’ve been thinking a lot about this in regard to some of my mentors and people I admire and I follow. And that’s kind of what’s missing for me often is their expression of their full humanity. Not just the pretty parts, but the rough parts. The imperfect parts too.
I talked about the 50/50 of life last week. The idea that 50% of the time, this human experience is meant to be full of joy or at least pleasant, peaceful. And the other 50% of the time, we have the contrast of those emotions. If we didn’t have the contrast, we wouldn’t even recognize the emotions themselves and it’s a really important part of our existence as humans. And really, just comes with the territory.
Most of us seem to believe that there’s some exemption we can attain from that experience in some way. That by achieving some level of financial success or the right number on the scale, that we would then be in that mystical place where we got to feel good all the time, but it’s never going to happen because we’re always just trading one 50/50 experience for another.
And I don’t see it as an exact breakdown where one minute you’re happy and the next minute you’re down. Sometimes the 50/50 balance happens over a year or over the span of a decade or over a month. When it rains, it pours much of the time. With comfort and discomfort alike. And that’s what’s meant to be our experience.
And we know that because if we look around, we see that is the experience that humans are having all around us. One of my favorite question from Glennon, I mentioned last week, is basically where is this perfect human that we’re all trying to emulate? It doesn’t exist. She’s not out there.
At least not in 100% form. There are people who have the kinds of bodies we want or the businesses we want or the lifestyle we want, but there’s no one person who is living all the time in the space of goodness and love and light. We’re humans. We suffer.
But that is missing much of the time from the landscape of our lives in terms of what we see, what we put out there. And I include myself in this conversation of course. When I teach you, I teach you from a place of here’s where I have been.
I understand what it’s like to have been where you are and I’m no longer there. I’ve moved forward somehow, and here’s how, and what I think could help you. It makes sense, right? To be teaching from a little farther down the path. I think that is valuable and important and how we learn from each other.
But I think it’s equally important for you to see the struggle and the fight that it took to get there. The hard parts. The rough parts. I never want to put out or for you to think that I have somehow attained the magical place where I no longer experience being a human to its fullest extent. I do. I do, you guys, so much.
So I wanted to open up my inner world today in a couple of ways and share with you some personal and kind of vulnerable realness from my life. I can’t do that though without first addressing what I often see come up with my clients and myself really, as we are expressing any discomfort we’re feeling, which is this.
Those of us living with privilege in whatever form, I have layers and layers of it, have a tendency to swim in a pool of toxic gratitude mixed with guilt, where we’re talking about feeling human emotions, feeling struggle and stress and anxiety and worry, and we feel we must add a, “But I know I have so much to be grateful for. I know I shouldn’t complain. It could be so much worse. I should be grateful for what I have.”
The sentiment of sort of looking for the good and being grateful is awesome. But we have to pay attention to how we feel when we think it. For some people, looking at what they are grateful for when they are suffering feels better. It lifts their eyes and their hearts to other options.
And I think there’s a time and a place for it, absolutely. But if you were in the midst of discomfort, of suffering, and you think, “I should be grateful,” and you feel worse, that’s when we know it’s not actually helpful. We’re not actually feeling gratitude. We’re feeling instead massive amounts of shame when we say that sentence.
It’s important to extricate ourselves from that toxic gratitude pool. We have so much to be grateful for and we also suffer. One doesn’t negate the other. They can both be. So rather than a but, it’s an and. I am struggling right now and I have a beautiful life.
So I want that to also be a part of this conversation because I think if we don’t separate the two from each other, the suffering and the toxic gratitude, sort of release them from their dependent nature, what happens is that we then resist and we repress and we push away the discomfort and layer shame on top of our suffering because we have the thought, “I shouldn’t be feeling this way, I have so much to be grateful for.”
That doesn’t get us anywhere. It isn’t helpful. It isn’t real. We suffer. Everyone does. And I don’t think it’s useful to minimize it or compare our suffering to others. You are allowed, even though you don’t live in the worst of circumstances, you’re allowed to struggle and to suffer and to feel the spectrum of human emotions.
So I want to preface this conversation with my acknowledgment of my own privileged life and the reality that I am also a human who feels things. So we talked in the last few episodes about rewriting your story. And a part of that is knowing the story your brain is telling you, raising awareness of what is happening in your brain.
And one of the ways that I do that in my day-to-day is with what I call thought work. Thought work is my word for progressive focused journaling. So it’s not journaling to record the events of my days for posterity. It’s me trying to really observe what’s going on in my brain and get it out on paper so I can process it through and separate it, the facts from the fiction, and understand it and see patterns and nuances.
And that’s how I really create forward motion. I wonder and I get curious and I learn so much about me through this process. It’s kind of like clearing clutter in your house. I used to have this room in my basement that I jokingly referred to as my room of shame.
It was a room where I dumped some stuff, quite a bit of stuff, after a big event I was in charge of. And I mean, with the full intention to put it away later, and then later turned into three years and 50 more events and holidays worth of stuff. It was piles and bags and boxes and tubs full of stuff.
Everything from craft supplies and wrapping paper to holiday decor and printer paper. I knew where things were, but no one else did. So if my kids needed, say, some masking tape or a gift bag, I would go down and I would find it amongst the rubble for them.
So my room of shame was also our music room. Complete with a drum set and a keyboard and microphones sort of hidden behind the piles. So when my son and his friends decided to start a band and needed a practice space, they decided to clear out the room by pulling all of the stuff out into our family room where I could no longer shut the door on it and forget about it.
And so I couldn’t ignore it anymore, and I set to work going through it all and organizing it. It took me a solid two days of work, sorting through what I wanted to keep and give away and donate, but I did it, and now it all lives in two meticulously organized closets of carefully labeled tubs.
I really wish now that I had taken some before and after photos because I really don’t think you would believe the before. But the shame just kept me from documenting it for the world. The good news is I now know where everything is and where it goes when I’m done with it.
And that way, it’s super easy to maintain the clean. That’s a lot like your brain and thought work. Most of us are living with brains like my room of shame. We know there’s a lot in there to sort through and organize, but without any means to do so, we just keep throwing stuff in there and shutting the door on it so we don’t have to look at it.
But it’s not going away. Not by itself. You have to pull it out, sort through it, and decide what you want to keep and what you want to let go of. I start that process with a thought download. Some people call it a brain dump because the idea is that you get everything out in the open so you can see it with your eyes and start making some deliberate decisions about it.
You can do it any way you want, but here are just some examples of what it looks like for me. Sometimes it looks like a journal entry where I just lay it all out in detail. Sometimes it looks like a free write where I just write whatever comes to mind. No punctuation, no paragraph breaks, just one subject running into the next.
Sometimes I split the page in two vertically and I write the story my brain is telling on one side, and I go back and I pull out all of the facts only. And I make a list of them on the other side. I explained a little bit about this in episode 19.
I think it’s helpful to see how much of your current experience is fact and how much of it is your brain’s story about it. Sometimes it looks like a topical download where I pick a specific topic I’m struggling with or challenged by, and I write it at the top of the page, and then below it, write all the thoughts I’m thinking about that topic.
Sometimes it looks like a list of thoughts. I write one thought per line in list form. I do this for thoughts that are creating discomfort, as well as for thoughts I want to think. Power thoughts, helpful thoughts as well. Sometimes I write a question at the top of the page and then I answer it in depth.
I’m always listening for questions from podcasts I love, books I’m reading, and even just my own brain. Questions are thought finders, which is why I’m always posing questions for you here on the podcast to really get you thinking.
Sometimes I notice my complain brain is switched on and in high gear. And my whole thought download is comprised of complaints. Sometimes I’ll just let it go. Just complain away. Get it all out. But other times, I take the opportunity to eat. Not eat cupcakes. Eat in this case stands for equal air time.
I like to give equal air time to what’s working, what’s good, what’s helpful, what I’m grateful for, all that stuff. I can still be grumpy and frustrated if I want to be, which is usually how I want to feel when I’m in complain brain, but I have at least acknowledged that there are some other options of things to think. Even in this moment of complaining.
So in that case, I’ll just draw a line straight through the middle of the paper, horizontally this time, and make sure that I give equal air time to all that stuff too. So I want to share with you one of my recent thought downloads.
This one actually ended up kind of being like poetry in a way. One more example really of how it doesn’t matter how it comes out. It just matters that you get it out. So here’s what I wrote.
I am tired of my complain brain, of the dark cloud, of the heavy, of the criticism inside, of the weeping, of the dragging a weight everywhere, of the doubting and the questioning, the lack of focus, the lack of commitment, the wishing and washing, all of the regretting and worrying. The tunnel vision that only sees what’s wrong, has gone wrong, and might go wrong.
I’m tired of pushing and pulling and of anger and disappointment. And I am so damn tired of inadequacy. The crippling, binding, grating, punishing inadequacy. It is a bottomless pit. It never ends. It’s everywhere in every moment, in every aspect of my life.
Every single thing I do, say, and am is colored with it. Where did my belief that there is possibility in growth and power in me go? It’s like it evaporated and in its place is the tar of inadequacy. It’s sticking to everything. It’s impossible to get off without paint and it grows and envelops me and weighs me down.
It’s like on The Incredibles. It’s zapping my strength and I feel like I can’t move. It’s like hot fire inside and outside, and it’s followed up as it ebbs and flows with judgment and sadness and hopelessness. I shouldn’t feel this way. I have so much to be grateful for. I’m a coach, I know better.
I want relief, I eat. I want relief, I stay in bed. I want relief, I avoid doing and being. I pretend it’s okay. I come up for air in small moments, but it returns. When I lay down to sleep at night it’s there. When I wake up it’s there, dark, heavy, infinite it seems.
I want to be an inspiration to myself and others. Not a pity party, not a pool of sadness. I want to have fun, to look for it, create it, and experience it. I want to feel peace half of the time. I want to open up to suffering, let it in, and let it go.
I want to lead my life with love, lead myself with love, lead my children with love. I want to invite light in, feel it, share light. I want to be present so I can recognize and acknowledge beauty and peace and love in the moment.
I am human, having a human experience. Ripe with love and suffering. I will look for the love. I will allow for the suffering. I will take care of me, my heart, my mind. I don’t have to be more than I am. I am. This is what life looks like right now. I’m here. I’m me. I am.
So you can kind of hear how even through this process of writing this all out, my mind kind of starts to clear out a little bit. I start with resignation, some despair, and as I wrote, it changed on its way to acceptance. Started out as kind of a solid paragraph.
And if you look at it in my journal, it opens up, kind of some space gets in between there and the thoughts. And you can also see I am a human. I am both imperfect and amazing. I both struggle and am strong. It’s so important that we remember the and.
We aren’t one thing or the other. We aren’t supposed to be. Our humanity encompasses all of the emotions. What this thought download led me to was an exercise that I’ve been doing that I want you to try out. I call it I Am, and I’m including a link to it in the show notes.
So I sort of created it in an official form for you guys, so it’s fillable, so you can use it over and over if you want to. So the idea is this. In one column, you’re going to make a list of all the adjectives you would use to describe yourself, your mood, your state of mind, your emotions right now.
It’s titled I Am Today. I did this exercise right after I did that thought download that I just shared with you and some of my adjectives, I Am Today in that column were low, anxious, slow, doubting, trapped in my brain, enveloped, and headachy. Yes, headachy. Sometimes I just make up words. It’s fine.
Then you’re going to make a list of all the adjectives you aspire to be right now. Some of mine were accepting, free, peaceful, engaged, future and solution oriented, heart minded, and wide eyed and wondering. Wonder is one of my favorites.
If I could just be filled with wonder all the time, that would be amazing. Then lastly, you’re going to pick one of your feelings out of that column to be your feeling focus of the day. So one of those adjectives you aspire to be, you’re going to pick to be your focus.
This day, I chose accepting. So here’s the work. When you’re feeling low and doubting but want to focus on feeling accepting instead, you have to find a thought that creates that feeling of accepting for you. And this starts as an exercise of imagination at first because when you’re in the space of low and doubting, accepting feels like a dream. It feels like sometimes a little bit inaccessible.
So we’re just going to imagine. If you were feeling accepting, what would you be thinking? Just imagine some of the things you would be thinking and believing if you were feeling that feeling. Some of those thoughts for me were, “This is how I am today. This is part of my journey. This is what my feeling landscape looks like today and that’s okay. It’s okay to be right here.”
It’s okay to be right here, that thought was the one that I picked to practice that day. So all day, I made a conscious effort to keep bringing that thought and feeling to front of mind. My brain would offer a complaint and some judgment and I would just remind myself, it’s okay to be right here. And I would feel accepting, even just for a moment.
And sometimes at the same time. Doubting, judgmental, but also accepting that that’s where I was. This is how we make a new thought a default thought. We practice it deliberately, consciously. And that is how we move from one place to the next.
So hopefully you can kind of see, this thought download was not that long ago. It’s not like this was the past and now I never have days like that again. No, I am a human being, I’m still having that experience 50% of the time. And I just want to make sure that you know, if you feel that way, you’re not alone. I’m right there with you.
Wow okay, I realize this was a little bit longer podcast than I usually do, but I felt it was really important for me to kind of help you see a tangible way that you can take some of your rough parts, struggle parts, and do a little bit of work with them to make them useful and progressive for you.
Also, it was so important for me to allow you in a little bit so that you know that this is normal. Nothing has gone wrong. Okay beautiful people, please rate and review the podcast if you love it. I send every review that I share on the podcast a super fun gift of some of my favorite things that you won’t want to miss out on.
Don’t forget to head to itbeginswithathought.com/review to submit the title of your review to me and I’ve made it super easy. You can just find that link in the show notes. See you soon everybody.
Thanks for listening to this week’s episode of Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown. If you want to learn more about how to lose weight for the last time, come on over to itbeginswithathought.com. We’ll see you here next week.