In 2014, I went back to elementary teaching full-time after working part-time and parenting my littles. I was already 15-20 pounds over my natural body weight, as I had been since college. In that first year, I gained 30 pounds. The second year I gained 10 more.
I blame none of this on the job itself, only on my inability to manage intense emotions without eating Doritos and chocolate. So. Much. Chocolate. And suffice it to say there was a lot of self-flagellation.
Finally, about six months ago, I decided that I wasn’t going to hate myself thin. I was only going to reach a healthy weight – and maintain it for the rest of my life – if I decided to do it with ease.
Ease is not the same as easy. I committed to myself that I would go all in, plan ahead, make the best decisions I could, and – most importantly – when I mess up, I will pick myself up lovingly and start again. Ease is about the choice not to create drama around Doritos or whatever else is presenting itself to me.
The change has been amazing. I actually have lost only a few pounds, because it takes time to undo decades of negative beliefs. But my mental weight is shedding faster than I can keep up with. Most importantly, I genuinely believe that I am going to accomplish this goal with ease.
I share this story with you because I believe that this process can work with our writing lives as well. So many of us think these thoughts so often that we are assuming that they are facts.
These are not FACTS. They are THOUGHTS you are having, and your mind is finding evidence to support those thoughts. But what if, what if you could change the thought? What might happen?
Because this can feel abstract and unlikely at first (it’s not that simple! our brains argue) I would like to offer you a series of questions to respond to. I recommend taking a couple of minutes per question and really sit with it before responding. Allow this to be possible.
1) How do you WANT to feel about your writing, your writing life, and yourself as a writer?
This question is getting at emotions. What emotions do you want to feel? (excited, motivated, capable, etc.)
2) What thoughts would produce that feeling?
So often we attribute our feelings to what’s happening around us, but that isn’t really useful. We can’t control whether someone likes or wants to publish our writing, we can only control how we think about it. So, these might be thoughts that start with I am. I am a consistent writer, for example.
3) What is your inner critic saying to you as you write and think about these new thoughts?
It’s important not to resist the inner critic. Let her speak. Hear her out.
4) How do you feel when you hear what the inner critic is saying?
Again, emotions. Ashamed. Tired. Depressed.
5) Do the emotions in #1 and in #4 match?
Probably not. This is important to notice. If we put our feelings into the hands of the inner critic, we will never feel the way we want to feel about ourselves as a writer. We have to practice believing something new.
6) What can you commit to thinking and doing this week that will get you closer to believing the thoughts in #2?
Small actions and neutral thoughts are like taking baby steps away from the inner critic and toward the new mindset you want to create.
Like my weight loss journey, this is not easy work. But it can be done with ease.
With ease, you can create a writer’s mindset that will provide you everything you need to achieve your goals.
PSST! It’s totally free!