Photo of small, misshapen carrots with text overlay: Are We Sabotaging Our Wellness Efforts?

[Wellness Wednesday] Are We Sabotaging Our Wellness Efforts?

photo of carrots https://reclaiminghopecoaching.comHave you ever planted something and waited with great anticipation to harvest it, only to be disappointed when you saw the results of your labors? Well, that’s what happened to our carrots last year. Without meaning to, I sabotaged their growth and kept them from reaching their full potential.

When those carrots came out of the ground, they looked pathetic. Part of the problem was the weird weather we had last year, but a bigger part of it was me.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen them, but carrot seeds are tiny. It’s hard to space them evenly while you’re planting them, so it’s vital to thin them out. It’s a monotonous task, and I don’t always do a good job of getting them thinned out the way I should, which causes the small, misshapen carrots you see here.

As I looked at those pitiful little carrots, I realized how, just as I stunted the growth of those carrots, we can sometimes do or allow things that stunt our growth, sabotage our wellness efforts, or slow our progress, particularly when it comes to our overall wellness.

Sometimes we need to thin things out of our lives.

Some things that may need thinning:

ANTs:

No, not the kind that ruin your picnics…. The kind we’re talking about here is something called Automatic Negative Thoughts. This term was coined by Dr. Daniel Amen, founder of the Amen Clinic and author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Life. These ANTs are the thoughts that pop up and make their way into our brains (and into our bodies via chemical changes) before we even realize we’re having them. As we’ve discussed before, our automatic thoughts can’t always be trusted. They don’t always tell the truth.

This means that we have to 1) be careful which of our thoughts we believe and 2) work to train our brains to process thoughts in more positive and hopeful ways. This may not be easy, particularly if we have long-running, deep-seated negative ways of processing the world around us, but with a little attention and work, it can be done. The first step is, of course, recognizing them for what they are. Once we realize they’ve popped up, we need to remember we don’t have to believe them, then take steps to deal with them. One way of doing this is simply talking back to them. Dr. Amen suggests writing the negative thought down and then writing a positive response. This helps reframe the negative thought and keep it from becoming entrenched.

Failure to believe in ourselves: 

In the fitness world, we talk a lot about self-efficacy when we’re working to help people change their behaviors. Basically, self-efficacy is the belief that we can be successful. Often, while our outer voices may say we believe things can get better, or we believe we can do things to improve our health and quality of life, our inner voices may be telling us we’re ‘stuck’ where we are.

So how do we counter this? That’s where those small steps come in. We have to start out with small, achievable steps to help us build our confidence. If you’re dealing with fibromyalgia or another chronic illness, that first ‘small step’ might just be getting up and dressed each morning. No matter what the first step is, or how small it is, once we’re successful with it we realize we can  make those small changes, one at a time and building on the previous one, until we’re where we want to be.

Being a perfectionist, and then being too hard on ourselves when we can’t do things perfectly:

This can often go hand-in-hand with the failure to believe in ourselves. We set our expectations too high, and when we don’t succeed, we beat ourselves up. Have you heard that saying, “Perfection is the enemy of progress”? That is particularly true when you’re dealing with a chronic illness. We never know from one day to the next what our bodies are going to allow us to do, and putting pressure on ourselves to do things perfectly or do things we’re not capable of leads to guilt and disappointment in ourselves. These feelings can stop us in our tracks and cause us to believe we don’t have any chance of getting better or making progress.

To prevent this we need to give ourselves grace. Remember those ANTs? Stomp them! We need to stop those negative thoughts in our tracks. Rather than beating ourselves up over what we didn’t do, or didn’t do perfectly, we can choose to look at what we didhave success in. We have to learn to forgive ourselves when we don’t meet our expectations. There are always going to be things we’re not successful at, but the difference between failure and growth is often grace. Giving ourselves grace allows us to forgive our perceived failure rather than wallowing in it. This allows us to put that particular incident behind us and take the next small step forward.

Looking Too Far Ahead:

Please don’t misunderstand me – I’m not saying that we shouldn’t plan for the future or set goals. What I mean is that when we look too far down the road, sometimes all we can see are the obstacles. Have you ever said, “I’m glad I didn’t know how hard this was going to be” or “I’m glad I didn’t know then what I know now”? If we look at how far we have to go to get to our ultimate goal, we can become discouraged and give up before we’ve even started.

Taking a shorter view and looking at the ‘next steps’ we need to accomplish can help combat this problem. Think about it – if you’re barely able to get out of bed in the morning, is it easier to think “I need to walk 10,000 steps each day” or is it easier to think, “I need to walk to my kitchen”? Concentrating on the ‘here and now’ can help us gain the self-efficacy we talked about above and prevent us from being overwhelmed by how much we still have to do.

Sometimes we can inadvertently be our own worst enemies when it comes to growth and progress. Being aware of some of these progress-killers can help us watch out for them in our lives and ‘thin them out’ when they show up.

How do you thin out the things that have the potential to stunt your growth or delay your progress? Please share!

Blessings,

~Terri

19 comments

  1. I love love love this article! Perfect timing as I am paring a lot of things down after completing phase one of my huge writing project. And in order to complete phase two–I need to take a few things out and find a new “normal.” Which of course means getting rid of ANTS and ditch being a perfectionist… love you my friend! Keep up the good work.

    1. Thanks so much Cheyenne, and welcome back! I’m so happy you’ve completed Phase One, and excited to see what God’s going to do with it! I’m glad you found this useful, and I hope you’re able to thin out those things that aren’t serving you well. Blessings to you sweet friend!

  2. Terri, I find writing a journal or just reflecting on the day can be a good starting point to noticing where we could benefit from thinning out the unhelpful habits.

    I just want to say your images that introduce your posts are really professional and eye-catching!

    1. Thank you Marie — that’s such a great point about the journaling! When we see it in writing, we can really see where we might need to make some changes.

      Thanks so much for your kind comment on the images. I use Canva to make all my images. They have tons of templates to use. It took me a while to find some I really like, but now I just kind of rotate between three of them for my posts, changing out the pictures and of course, the titles, etc.

      Have a lovely weekend sweet friend. Blessings to you!

      1. My pleasure Terri! It’s easy to see you have done your research and know your templates, thanks for sharing your tips! Thank you for your kind blessings, have a special weekend also Terri! Xx

  3. Terri, the issue with your carrots can be overcome by mixing the seeds well in a handful of dry sand before spreading in tbe seed bed, it separates them for you 😉

    As with negative thoughts & feelings we also need to mix them with a handful of rationality to separate them from fact & fiction within our unique circumstances & capabilities 😉
    Fact v Fiction…
    Q. I can do 10,000 steps per day = Ideal.
    In my new norm this = fiction (an idealized fantasy which could lead to negativity).

    Q. Am I capable of doing 10,000 steps today or any day in my new norm? A. No = fact.

    Q. Am I able to walk around the neighborhood today which is only a tenth in steps? A.Yes = Fact (a positive action plan in place) 😀
    Blessings,
    Jennifer

    1. Thanks so much for the tip Jennifer! That makes perfect sense. I’m definitely going to do that when I plant them in the Spring. You make such a great point about separating fact from fiction within the context of our abilities too. Your example is spot-on. Blessings to you!

  4. Loved this Terri. You are absolutely right. We can be our own worst enemies. Sometimes what we think will help us progress further can actually be hindering us. Such an insightful post.

    1. Thank you so much Mark! I think you’re absolutely right that we can be our own worst enemies sometimes…. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just get out of our own way? Blessings to you!

  5. Fab advice! I’m in a “thinning” time right now. You could say I am Uber Decluttering. I’m not a hoarder, but I live in a large(ish) place. It has been easy to over collect clothes (I’m a costume designer, clothes grow in my basement), books, magazines, tapes, shoes I’ll never wear… and on & on.
    I’m not doing it all at once. The idea is not to throw things away, it is to find the new right home for things. It’s slow going, but there is relief, and a growing feeling of of freedom as I detach myself from material objects that I don’t need or use.

    I was feeling crowded out of my own life.

    Have a wonderful week!

    1. Thanks so much Resa! I’ve seen some of your designs, so I know that whoever inherits the clothes you’re “thinning” will be extremely fortunate. It’s wonderful that you have a plan to make sure things get to the right new home for them. It’s always good to know that the things we’re not using anymore can go to someone who needs them. Not trying to do it all at once is, I think, a fabulous plan. That way, you don’t completely overdo it. Plus…. it gives you time to enjoy the process, as you said, of the “growing feeling of freedom.” Hope you have a wonderful week as well, sweet friend!

  6. Those are some tiddly carrots, but they look quite cute! I think many of us probably quite likely sabotage, and do so without conscious awareness, quite often. Those pesky ANTs are everywhere, too. Pervasive buggers that they are. As for the lack of confidence in ourselves and perfectionist tendencies, those are very hard to deal with and get past, but the first step is uncovering they’re problems underneath your thoughts and actions. It’s posts like yours, Terri, that instigate the initial awareness process, that help to wake us up to what may really be going on underneath. Another fab post!
    Caz xx

    1. Thank you so much Caz! You make a great point about the first step to getting rid of the things that hold us back. Many of us, myself included, probably go through life not even realizing we’re self-sabotaging. Hope you’re doing as well as possible. I’ve been “normal” sick the last couple of weeks (sinus problems made me too dizzy to do computer work) and have gotten behind on what’s going on with everyone again. Sending hugs your way!

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