“Everything in the universe is within you. Ask all from yourself.” ~Rumi
I want to feel better. Who doesn’t? Yoga makes me feel better most of the time, but if I am being totally honest, I don’t always choose the healthy option. In fact, sometimes I pick the worst thing for me.
For me, a plate of BBQ wings really hits the spot. That is, until a few hours later when the salt and protein load kicks in and I feel terrible. Again.
While I may oscillate between healthy and unhealthy choices for my body, I know how to get fit through gyms, diet programs, and physicians.
But what about my steady diet of junk food thoughts? How do I stop consuming them and focus on a healthier emotional diet?
Junk Food Thoughts
Everyone knows about the negative effects of an unhealthy lifestyle, but no one teaches us about the negative health effects of our thoughts.
Worry, stress, anxiety, guilt, shame, and fear are the potato chips, processed foods, and chocolate cake of our emotional life. As satisfying as they may feel in the moment, their negative effects are just as toxic.
And, like we have particular food cravings, we have particular thought cravings.
My First Emotional Cleanse
I built a healthcare company and sold it to a Fortune 500 eleven years later. In 2006, I made the decision to change my career and pursue a path toward my passions.
As I attempted to discover my true desires, I came face to face with my emotional junk food and its effects. I felt terrible, I felt weighed down, and I could not figure out why.
Like my craving for a plate of BBQ wings, I craved certain thoughts when I faced the decision to leave my job:
I cannot leave.
I have to keep my job.
What am I going to do all day?
I am going to be so bored.
I went from $15,000 a year to an executive salary and stock options. Who leaves that?
My parents will never understand or support this decision.
There is something else out there for me.
What if I am wrong and this decision destroys everything I have worked for?
The thoughts that I was unaware of were as toxic as the foods I know to avoid. A thought—a single sentence—stood in the way of the life I desired.
How to Stop Consuming Unhealthy Thoughts
Tune into your thoughts.
You cannot stop the negative effects of these thoughts without awareness of their existence. What are your go-to junk food thoughts? What do you tell yourself when you consider changing a relationship, a job, or any other important area of your life?
What is the exact language? Just like you may love a certain brand of chocolate or a certain type of potato chip, you will have exact language for your emotional craving.
Accept their destructive effects on your health.
One sentence can stand between you and your goals. A sentence—a set of words—becomes a belief. This belief will drive your actions. As simple as this is in concept, in practice, changing a few words can change your life. If you change the belief, you can change your actions.
In my case, removing one sentence, “I can’t leave my job,” changed my life.
Trade in your junk food thoughts for nutritious thoughts.
What nutritious foods do you like? Kale? Salads? Smoothies? Veggies and hummus? Likewise, what nutritional thoughts do you like?
Replace junk food thoughts with nutritional thoughts and free yourself to pursue your dreams.
Some examples of nutritional thoughts:
Are you avoidant?
Today, I will step forward.
I believe in my abilities.
I am ready.
I will take one action a day until I complete my goal.
Are you angry with someone?
Today, I will have compassion.
Anger is poison.
When others hurt me, they are in pain and I have tapped into my pain.
I don’t personalize other people’s pain.
Are you holding on to resentments?
Today, I will let go.
Resentments have no value.
Letting go does not mean I accept this person into my life.
I am not a victim.
Are you always behind and do your lists have lists?
Today, I choose me.
I will schedule one thing for myself today: a massage, a manicure, a workout, or a quiet room with a book.
This is my life.
I drive the choices I make with my time, even if it does not feel like it.
I wanted to leave my job and step into a career that was more aligned with my passion. One day, I discovered my problem was not the mundane details involved in changing jobs. It was the deep craving for my destructive thoughts.
This time I reached for a healthier option:
It is my right to follow my passions
I am going to write, even if it is not perfect.
I trust that my path will become clear, even if it is not obvious now.
With these simple sentences, I changed my career and found the passion in my life that I really craved.
I still struggle to make healthy choices, but now I understand that I have to forego my favorite BBQ wings and resist my favorite junk food thoughts.
Jumping woman image via Shutterstock