This is Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown, episode 12.
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. Today is one of those spring days where I live that seems to include all of the seasons in one. It started out this morning cloudy and grey, and then it started to rain, which I expected, and then the sun came out. And then it started to rain again, and then it hailed and it snowed and there were patches of snow on my lawn and clinging to the branches of my trees. And then the sun came out again, melted all the snow, and now there are blue skies and birds chirping and I have my door open.
I went to the store and I parked so the sun was shining on my windshield, and by the time I shopped and got back out to my car, it was probably 85 degrees in there and I had to take off my jacket. So I feel like I got some fall, I got a little bit of winter, some spring, and even a little taste of summer for a minute.
And it got me thinking, as you can imagine. I am always looking deeper at my life for the lessons. Did you notice this? Our emotions are like the weather. They’re always happening and they’re always changing. We experience a wide and very varied range of emotions as a human every single day, and I want to dive into how to navigate that wide and varied range to our greatest benefit.
I’m recording this as we are in the midst of COVID-19. Every day it seems there’s a new development that changes the circumstances of my life just a little bit. At this point, everyone is home. Pretty much everything is closed but the store and the duration is unknown.
I’ve seen so many funny memes asking what day it is, saying that March was the longest 13 years of their life, stuff like that. When we’re in the midst of anything intense, any sort of discomfort, time seems to slow down and our brain worries that it will never end.
We know logically that it will, but in the moment, we can’t wrap our minds around it. It’s funny because there’s a pretty well-known saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun,” which feels so true when you think about all of the experiences you’ve had when you’ve had the thought, “No, I don’t want it to end.”
I pretty much think that thought at the end of every vacation, every good book I read, every live event I get to attend with my coach community, every fun date night, every cuddle session or meaningful conversation with my kids. There isn’t really a catchy saying for the opposite experience though.
Like, time drags on and on when you’re in pain. Probably because we don’t want to think about that or dwell on it. We want to focus on the fun instead. I want to challenge this idea though. What if instead of trying to hold onto the fun and get out of the pain by any means necessary, we let the emotions come and go like the weather?
Now, for some of you there’s plenty of trying to hold onto the weather you like and fight or complain about the weather you don’t like. But I want you to notice for a minute how well that’s working. You may hide in your house from the snow and the cold and curse every minute of the weather you don’t like, but that doesn’t make it go away. It just makes you feel tense and grumpy about it.
The weather is still outside doing its thing, being weathery. Yes, it’s totally a word. And you are in your house feeling mad about it. Our full human experience includes every season, every kind of weather or in other words, all the feels. Joy, sorrow, pain, pleasure, guilt, pride, peace, and frustration.
The contrast is the key. We have to know one to know the other. Think about it. If everything was awesome all of the time, you wouldn’t even recognize that it was because you’d have nothing to compare it to. Think how amazing the sun feels when you’ve had a long string of grey cloudy days, or how welcome the cooler air of a storm is in the middle of a hot summer.
We try and try to sustain a level of constant happiness or peacefulness because we think it is, A, possible, and B, what all humans are supposed to do. But where did we get this idea from? Where on earth is there a human living a life that is constantly happy? And more importantly, is that actually a life that we want to live?
At this point in human existence, they’ve not found a way for humans to be immortal. So death is something that will come to all of us eventually. Do we really want to be happy about the people we love dying? I don’t. I want to feel loss and grief when someone I love dies. I want to miss them and feel the longing that comes from all of my thoughts and memories because to me, that is evidence of how much I loved.
Do we want to feel happy and peaceful about cancer and terrorism and child abuse? The answer for most of us is no. So if pain and sadness and other unpleasant emotions are going to be a part of our human experience, how do we want to react?
For most of us, our reaction to these emotions is to try to escape. We eat, we drink, we Netflix, we work, we rationalize, minimize, and judge. But this is just resisting the emotion, struggling against it, fighting with it. Resisting takes a lot of energy and we can only do it for so long.
Imagine there is a giant monster on your front porch trying to get in your house. Your door doesn’t lock, so your only defense is to hold the door closed using your body weight. The monster is pushing to get in and you are pushing against it with all of your might. The longer you push the door shut, the more riled up the monster gets.
Your muscles are burning, your hands are getting tired, your grip is loosening, your legs are getting weak, and eventually you collapse and the monster overtakes you. Our resistance to the emotions doesn’t make them go away. It doesn’t even lessen the intensity in the long run. Temporarily, sure, as you eat the ice cream, yeah.
The dopamine response from eating that food muffles the monster’s roar, but it doesn’t make the monster leave the porch. So what does? What is the opposite of holding the door shut? Opening it up and letting the monster in when it knocks.
Now, you may be thinking this is a terrible idea since monsters are threatening and dangerous. But what if you are mistaken? What if the monster on the other side of the door is Sully from Monsters Inc? He appears to be a terrifying award-winning scaring champion monster unless you see him through Boo’s eyes and then he’s just a big kitty.
If you’re unfamiliar with Monsters Inc, sad. I love that movie. But the idea is simply that things are not always as they appear. Our unpleasant emotions, despite what your toddler brain offers you are not dangerous or threatening. They can’t harm you. Your feelings are your friends and they are there to give you a message, to teach you a lesson.
But only if you are willing to open the door, let them in, and listen to what they have to say. Our equally strong attempts to hold onto happiness and make it last, as opposed to holding off pain and making it go away can also have a detrimental effect.
It looks more like dragging happiness in and holding it hostage against its will to try and keep the feeling as long as possible. Nobody enjoys that experience. Rather than being fully present and actually experiencing happiness, we are worried about it going away. So we’re not fully present and experiencing it. We’re actually feeling worry and fear about it going away rather than the happiness itself.
I love this quote by Rilke in the final frame of the movie Jojo Rabbit, which also if you haven’t seen, oh my gosh, so good. You have to see it. This is the quote. “Let everything happen to you. Beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.”
Let everything happen to us feels counterintuitive. Our instinct is to avoid, to run, to resist unpleasant emotions happening to us and to try to seek constant happiness and make it keep happening to us by any means necessary. Even means overeating that can be detrimental ones.
It’s kind of like a Chinese finger trap. I am full of analogies for you today. Weather, monsters, Chinese finger traps, on a roll. So you know what I’m talking about, right? It’s a small tube woven out of straw and you put a pointer finger of each hand into either end of the tube at the same time, and then you try to pull them out and they’re trapped.
The harder you pull with your fingers, the tighter the tube gets and the more stuck your fingers are. The solution is counterintuitive. You have to push your fingers together farther in, which then allows the tube to expand enough that you can get your fingers out.
So how exactly do we let everything happen to us? How can we open the door, invite the monster in, and listen? Next week, I’m going to teach you a four-step process I love from ACT, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy called expansion.
Our default reaction to our emotions is to contract. To tighten up and fight or hide. Expansion is that counterintuitive solution that has you expand, open up, lean in, and listen. I was going to include it in this podcast but I’m committed to keeping the podcast short and sweet, and I think the exercise is so valuable that it deserves an expanded explanation and sort of a live walkthrough of its own.
Then you’ll also have a self-contained version of it that you can use again and again. So lucky number 13, podcast 13 will be that tool for you. But here’s what I will leave you with today. If emotions are like the weather, ever present and ever changing, what was your emotional weather like today? And how did you react?
Did you let them all happen to you? Or did you put up a fight with brownies, perhaps? I also want you to think of five emotions that are desirable to you that you seek after and five emotions that you consider undesirable and you notice yourself wanting to avoid. And I want you to ask yourself why you put them in each category.
I also want you to ask yourself if you can think of anyone else who might have those emotions in the opposite category and why. I love thinking about what the opposite thought is or the opposite feeling because I think it helps us to sort of expand our brain to think a different way, even if we don’t believe that right now, that’s not exactly what we want to think about it or how we want to see it, it just kind of provides some wiggle room. So try that on.
Okay, you ready for winner number two of a $100 Amazon gift card? Drum rolling. The winner is Beth and the title of her review is, “Can’t wait to hear more.” Here’s what she thinks about the podcast. “The thought work is the heart of lasting weight loss. That’s my thought belief and I can’t wait to hear from my Natalie to help me along my path to my future awesome self.”
Oh my gosh, the thought work is the heart, Beth. You’re totally right. Otherwise, it’s just changing the outside and your brain stays the same. It comes with you. We have to do the work on the inside to change the outside for good. So fun to give away Amazon dollars. I love it so much.
Okay, so I have a challenge for you today since this coming Sunday is Mother’s Day. I want you to think right now of a mama you know and love that would benefit from listening to this podcast. Think of some recent conversations you’ve had with her or things she’s struggling with right now and an episode you could share with her that would really help.
Or think about an episode that has helped you shift some thinking or make some changes that you might recommend to her. Let’s give the most impactful we can to an important mom or multiple moms in your life. The gift of inspiration and change.
Text or email her a link, or share a podcast post with her from my Instagram or Facebook, @itbeginswithathoughtcoaching. I will put podcast links and my social media links in the show notes, so they’re super easy for you to copy and paste. Thanks everybody. See you soon.
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.