I work hard at positivity. I have learned that thoughts really do become things.
In 7th grade, my concert band director had his own very special version of the Hunger Games. He wasn’t super evil, but he did seem to take some masochistic pleasure in creating intense competition within each section of the concert band. Once a week, he’d point to someone in the section and have them play an excerpt from a piece we were learning. He’d move his eyes across the section and then point to someone with his baton. He would randomly point to a few members and tell them to play. After a long pause, he’d announce whether any one of us had played well enough to move to first position. I played the flute, and, while my interest in it was starting to wane, I was still desirous of taking First Flute. The first flutist was a tall skinny thing. We’ll call her Felicia (as in BYE FELICIA). She was an accomplished flutist. She was smart. And she wore the crown almost every week. Felicia was snooty, prideful, and frankly, had the early signs of super-bitch . She was also an expert in letting me know just how good she was and just how average I was. As first flute she was supposed to help the section get better, but instead, seemed to relish her position as queen, her subjects be damned. Each and every time I tried to take first flute, self-defeating thoughts ran through my mind. I thought, I should be happy with 2nd flute. What’s the big deal? And you know what? That’s exactly where I stayed. I let Felicia keep her place, because I believed what she told me. I doubted my own ability. As I look back, I am ever more convinced that most things in life are really about mind over matter. If you don’t think you can, then you probably can’t.
When we’re young, we are naive, and that naiveté often causes us to believe in the impossible thing, to jump off the cliff, take the grand leap of faith. It is naiveté that made me believe I could move to New York City right out of college, with no job prospects, with $500 to my name, and manage to score an apartment, a job, and start a career in the entertainment industry, one of the most competitive industries in the world.
When life kicks us in the butt, when those naive dreams don’t work out, those kicks can gradually chip away at that unbridled “anything is possible” mentality. We run for cover, for the “sure” thing, for comfort. We make choices that feel safer, less risky. And sometimes, that’s not a bad thing. Sometimes opting for safe IS a better bet. But sometimes that chipping away can end up being a bad thing. We have less confidence in our ability to dream big. We become less fluid. We get tired. And sometimes we simply want to avoid more disappointments.
Five years ago, life kicked me in the butt. Really really bad. I had a series of bad breaks at a time when the economy was on the skids and many people were finding it hard to make ends meet. As an entrepreneur, I was used to the ups and downs in my industry. But this time around, both my husband and I knew we needed to make a very tough decision. With our son heading to college, and finances not where they should be, we decided to sell our home of twenty years and move to a place that would be less of a burden, and one that would give us the much needed relief from the financial stress. In the end, it was one of the best decisions we ever made. But at the time? I was a mess. We had renovated our home into the perfect space, and I never expected to leave, at least not at that point in time. It was an incredibly tough transition, and while the 1850s farmhouse we purchased sat on beautiful property, looking out onto mountains and forever preserved farmland, I felt deflated. I couldn’t believe I was, in some ways, having to start over. I couldn’t see the horizon, only the incredible pain of having to leave a place I had called home for twenty years. I couldn’t imagine how I would recover. All of the stress caused a weight gain, which of course only added to my depression.
Now, five years later, life is good. We are renovating the 1850s beauty and in a few weeks will be starting phase two. As we begin, I think about the rebuilding that has occurred. I keep thinking about my personal rebuilding. The stresses of late are much more manageable, but I also have to remind myself of the lessons I’ve learned so that I don’t fall back into old habits that never served me. And that brings me back to the story about the concert band. I never got to first flute. I allowed my psyche to stop me from making it all the way to first. I didn’t believe I could get there, and therefore I didn’t.
Five years ago, I stopped believing I would ever get to my goal weight. I stopped believing I would ever live in a beautiful space again. It took me awhile to bounce back. These last few months I’ve been maintaining my weight as life has gotten busy, and I’m noticing, I’m not believing in my ability to get all the way to goal, to keep that a priority along with all of the things happening in my life right now. I’ve got to shake it off, to reset my sights, and summon the energy to go the distance, not just opt out because, hey, this should be good enough. I have to renew my belief. As my outward environment changes, I must be vigilant not to let go of the vision for me. No matter how busy I get at work or how tough any transition might be, I can’t go back there, to that deflated place. I take comfort in ways that serve me and my vision. I imagine where I want to be and I go there.
Visualization is a powerful tool. You can visualize doom and gloom or you can choose to set your sights on going for the prize. It’s really up to you. If we can believe in that one pure thing, we can be extraordinary, we can get there. It takes courage, it takes vigilance, but it starts with seeing the goal, and believing (even if you have to fake it until you make it). And when you’re not feeling like you’ve got the energy to believe, you fight past it. You rebuild your strength and spirit with things that fill you up, like friends, family, and support systems you create. You renovate what doesn’t work, and you set your sights on the goal. As you head into your week, notice the thoughts that run through your mind. Are they serving you and your vision? Notice the thoughts, notice what you tell yourself. If it’s negative, catch it, and turn it on its tukhus. Believe that belief is a powerful tool toward any goal, including your weight loss. Keep a record of how many times you go to the negative and see what happens when you begin to catch it and shift it. Here’s to a more positive week, believing that we all can get there.