To Fix Problems, Stop Admiring Them


Today’s post is another from Darla Breckenridge, our psychologist at Green Mountain.  She takes a different look at what we’re doing when we think or speak about our problems in the usual way.

Admiring our problems is a case of unwittingly practicing or rehearsing how we think about them. In the usual course of things, we repeatedly think or talk about the problems we have with problems.  When we let our minds continue in the old neural pathways, thinking self-defeating thoughts, we’re digging our heels in deeper. Letting the fire roar. Tenaciously holding on to the problem.

So we have to ask ourselves, would we rather be practicing healthy self talk or practicing problem self talk?

Listen to this:

  • “A listed side effect of my medication is ‘possible’ weight gain. It’s to be expected.”
  • “I always gain weight when I’m in pain.”
  • “My reaction to rejection is to eat.”
  • “When I eat out, I always eat too much.”
  • “I forget to eat and then when I do sit down to eat, I don’t have good sense.”

This kind of talk is as easy as picking low-hanging fruit. We know how to do it. Requires no effort. And, it’s very believable.

On the other hand, it’s a stretch to pick the more nutritious fruit from the top of the bush or tree. Just as it is a stretch to reach for a more creative form of positive self-talk.

Here’s how it works: The more we talk about a problem and how it’s out of our control, the more we believe what we’re saying. Talking about our problem is an attention grabber and often a way we connect with other people.  Complaining is the lowest social common denominator.

The more we admire, that is, the more we practice or rehearse a problem, the more concrete, the more real, it becomes. Such thoughts are show-stoppers when what we need is a re-write.

At Green Mountain, our focus is on noticing the words we use to talk about ourselves and our lives.   It is through this mindful process of noticing that we can start choosing words that reframe and define our desired outcome. We can’t do anything to change what we are saying in our heads until we are aware of what we are already saying.

For example: By changing the words “I hate my body” to “I appreciate what my body does for me,” we practice healthy self talk and work on creating new neural pathways. Thought stopping is also a powerful tool to interrupt the process of admiring problems.

As we refocus and move away from admiring our problems to choosing words which support our desires and successes, we reframe our self talk.

Be careful what you wish for… or more to the point…notice how you talk to yourself.

In a later blog I’ll cover possible rewrites of self-talk, but why don’t you try it first. I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

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About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

If you’re looking for an embodiment of dedication disguised as obsession, look no further. Marsha is a registered dietitian who has spent the last four decades working to help women give up dieting rules and understand how to truly take care of themselves. Her mission in life is to help women learn to enjoy eating and living well, without worries about their weight. She encourages women to embrace their love of food, which you might call being a foodie. If so, it’s appropriate because being a foodie means you pay attention when you eat. That’s a recipe made in heaven for eating well. Marsha is the President and Co-Owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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