Obsessions, Obsessions, Everywhere…None Of Them Are Truths!

positive thinking

Recently, a client said to me that she can’t go anywhere without obsessing about other women, how beautiful and skinny they are. I asked her to give me more detail about these instances and tell me what her thoughts would look like during and after seeing these “beautiful, skinny” women. She gave me a detailed description of a scenario and her thoughts that followed.

…I went to The Grove (an outdoor shopping area near my office) and stood on line at Starbucks to order my drink. All the women in line ahead of me were skinny and dressed beautifully. Their hair was impeccable, their clothes fit them perfectly, they wore the perfect accessories, AND they ordered “skinny” drinks. Even their kids looked gorgeous. Not a hair out of place. Flawless. I wanted to order the drink that I really wanted, because you always tell me to get what I am truly in the mood for. I had my heart set on a salted caramel mocha frappucino. But after seeing these beautiful women in front of me, I couldn’t do it. I ordered a skim latte, even though I don’t like skim lattes. My thoughts told me that these women are super skinny because they don’t eat. They are exercising more than me. They are happy. Their husbands are happy. Their kids are always well behaved. They have super happy lives. AND I am fat. I don’t restrict my food. I don’t look good in my clothes. I don’t have enough time to exercise like they do. I will never be like them. I will never be happy. My kids throw tantrums. My husband isn’t happy. It’s all my fault. If I was skinny like those women, my life would be great. My life is terrible. I need to lose weight. Everyone must be staring at me thinking that I need to lose weight…

She went to the milk station and put several Splendas in her skim latte and went directly to her car. She was planning on walking around the Grove to do some shopping, but now she felt dreadful and couldn’t bear to be out among people. She drove home, defeated. She felt awful about herself and her life. She obsessed about how fat and miserable she was for the entire ride home. Ironically, nothing had changed from the time she arrived at The Grove till she got into her car EXCEPT the dialog she had in her head. She went from being excited to have a fun shopping day and getting her salted caramel mocha frappucino, to being consumed by sadness, driving home with a skim latte. Topping it all off, when she arrived at home, she binged on the foods she had bought the prior day for her daughter’s birthday celebration. After the binge, she cried.

What went wrong??? To me, this story is heartbreaking, and yet it happens day in and day out with so many of you. It may not be this exact scenario. The people are different, the place varies, but the obsessions and resulting feelings are the same.  Sadness, defeat, hopelessness.

This can’t continue!!! We need to change the scenario. We need to start with challenging the core negative thoughts and beliefs you have about yourself and others. THEY ARE NOT TRUTHS!!!

Truth Number 1: People who are “skinny” are not happy due to being skinny. Happiness is a byproduct of self-care in mind, body, and spirit, healthy relationships, etc.

Truth Number 2: You can’t tell what a person’s life is like by the clothing they wear or the hair style they have. All you can tell by these two things is that they own a nice outfit that you saw them in (or maybe it was not theirs) and they have a decent stylist.

Truth Number 3: Most, if not all kids throw tantrums.

Truth Number 4: People who restrict their food are not happy. Restriction = obsession.  Obsession = unhappiness (both physically and psychologically)

Truth Number 5: People most definitely are not judging you. And, even if they are, you will never know because they aren’t going to tell you. You have the choice NOT to make these assumptions.

Truth Number 6: Your thoughts create your reality. If you want to have a healthy positive reality, you need to allow positive thoughts to enter your mind, even if you don’t yet believe them.

Truth Number 7: The story you invent about others is NOT their story. It is a concoction of YOUR imagination.

If you don’t want to use a food behavior to cope with the feelings you experience, and those feelings are a DIRECT byproduct of your own negative thoughts and obsessions, you need to work on shutting down these self-sabotaging thoughts and obsessions, replacing them with more positive thoughts, and/or distracting yourself from the obsessions until they pass. This can be accomplished by first asking yourself two simple questions. “Is this a true thought? Or, Is this thought going to help me get where I want to be today, or in life? If the answer is “no”, then don’t accept that thought as truth or as a thought you want to focus on. Next, replace the thought with a new, different, positive, more loving one. You have the ability to do this. It may take practice, but it is essential if you don’t want to always be left fighting off the urges to engage in a food behavior to put a salve on the negative feelings that result from your own obsessions.

How would this look in real terms? In the scenario with my client, as she was standing on line at Starbucks, as soon as the thought came into her head that the women in line were all skinny, beautiful, and happy, she could have immediately (1) asked herself if that thought was true or would help her in how she wants to live her day. After she answered that question with “no”, then she could (2) have replaced that thought with ANY positive, or true thought like:

·        I am excited to do some shopping today

·        I am grateful for this beautiful day

·        I am excited to have my salted caramel mocha frappucino

·        I am grateful for these two hours of solitude

If she could have accomplished these thought shifts, she could have changed the course of her day.

So, remember, that obsessions are not truths, negative obsessions most definitely lead to negative feelings, and most importantly, YOU have the power to change your negative thoughts into positive ones and ultimately change the course of your life.

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One thought on “Obsessions, Obsessions, Everywhere…None Of Them Are Truths!

  1. Perfect timing! This story is so illustrative of the cognitive distortions so many of us have. If we can only pause and notice the stream of negative thinking in these scenarios, we can start to question their validity…

    Thanks, Donna!

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