Drop It Like It's Hot – How to Train Your Mind to Let Go of The Heaviness
by JANIE LOUBSER
Reading Time: 8mins
This month we are focusing on well-being and we’re calling it the weight loss issue because well-being, to us, is an internal state of feeling good – where feeling good is feeling calm yet energized. I simply call it feeling light.
The aim of this article is to help you commit to feeling good. By the time you have finished reading it, I hope you will feel nothing matters more than feeling good and that you will feel empowered to take control of your feelings.
My definition of feeling good is feeling light. I believe that the secret to successfully achieve our dreams is through feeling good. It is impossible to always feel that way but it is a skill that you can learn and practice. The opposite of feeling light (or good) is feeling heavy and it can come over us easily without us even noticing it. While I’m referring to emotional heaviness, it is interesting to notice the similarities between emotional and physical weight – not just in how it feels but also, the way we speak about it. Our thoughts carry emotional weight and because we are often unaware of our habitual thought patterns, it is easy to carry extra weight without noticing it. I’m not saying that you should always feel light and that you should lose weight, but if your thinking and/or your physical weight are making you feel emotionally heavy, then it is something to be aware of so that you can decide if you want to do something about it.
We experience heaviness differently – it can be a heavy heart; a foggy head; a heavy burden on our shoulders; a knot in the stomach; a lump in the throat, even heavy feet dragging. You can feel drained; impatient; stuck; hopeless and even depressed. There are different reasons why we feel heavy but I want to give a simple and general explanation which you can test to see if it is true for you: we feel heavy when things don’t work out the way we wanted. It can be as serious as your life not working out the way you wanted or it can be as simple as your dinner plans not working out and, although I hear many people judge this as immature and selfish, I think this is a very legitimate reason to feel heavy. Maybe ask yourself if there is anything you really wanted and didn’t get? How did it feel?
It can be useful to think about an aeroplane that can’t take off because the baggage load is too heavy. When you are feeling heavy, you can’t move; you can’t lift off; you can’t soar and here is the scary part: you can’t get to where you want to be if you are feeling heavy. Notice the negative loop: you are feeling heavy because you are not where you want to be, but if you continue to carry the weight of the disappointment you will struggle to get where you want to be.
It is lightness, ease, relaxation, joy, fun and energy that will help you move from where you are to where you want to be. I know that feeling good is not the only resource you will need to do this but it is the foundation. Even if your goal is to lose physical weight, your success will depend on feeling good while you are losing the weight, especially if you want to maintain it.
Enliven’s mission is to offer simple solutions and action plans to bring about real and lasting change. Our mission statement is live light – and by that, I don’t mean be silly and ignorant. If you are grounded in who you are and what you want there is a feeling of ease when you take action. Knowing what you want essentially means knowing your values and if you live connected to your values things come naturally for you. When we live disconnected from our values we tend to force things. You are being forceful when you apply too much effort that is counterproductive. This also applies to our feelings. You can’t force yourself to feel relaxed. Just as you can’t force yourself to sleep – forcefulness and sleepiness cancel each other out. You also can’t force yourself to lose weight. It doesn’t make sense to apply great effort when the goal is to feel light (and lose weight), does it?
Here are my essential training steps that will help you
1 / Notice when you are feeling heavy ...
2 / feel better and ...
3 / decide what to do about it in a wise and meaningful way.
It’s important to note that the idea is not to suppress your feelings. There can be a legitimate reason why you are feeling heavy that needs your attention and action, but heaviness can also be a habit that needs to be broken. That is why I call it ‘training’, because it takes discipline to notice that you are feeling heavy and then to look at it. Whether it is a problem to solve or a habit to break, the key is to first feel good before you do anything else. If you commit to feeling good first and foremost, you will have the clarity and the wisdom to know what to do next. There is even an unexpected benefit - if you can maintain this discipline you will have a feeling of self-worth and pride. With discipline, I do not mean that you stick to a rigid set of rules of do’s and don’ts, rather it is having a clear daily intention. Have a look at what I mean...
First, set a daily intention to feel light ...
Today, I want to feel good.
Second, set the daily intention to notice when you feel heavy ...
Today, I want to be aware when I don’t feel good.
Third, reach for a healthy thought or action that is simple and light ...
Today, when I notice that I’m feeling heavy I want to focus on my breath for 20 counts.
This may sound very simple but remember, the only beneficial thing you can do when you are feeling heavy is to feel good. It is in the simplicity that the efficiency lies.
Initially, it may be difficult to remember to be aware so I suggest that you set a reminder for an emotional check-in late morning and late afternoon. This way you will catch the heaviness before it gets out of control. Let’s call this your 'baggage check'. You’re essentially checking how much weight you are carrying around. From there, you need to drop some of the weight if you want to take off. I also suggest that you decide beforehand, what your weight loss plan is. Your intention to notice when you are feeling heavy needs to be accompanied with the intention do something about it otherwise, you will increase the heaviness by thinking even more about it.
Here are some of mine:
1 / breathe
I start off with focusing on my breath for at least twenty counts. Counting in itself slows down the heaviness and gives you the space to take control. I make sure that my posture is upright and that my shoulders are open and relaxed.
2 / smile
This is a tough one, but I smile. Not a forced grin but a soft smile that lifts the corners of the mouth and opens the eyes. I sometimes lift my eyebrows a couple of times which helps the fogginess disappear. Do this while smiling and you soon will be laughing at yourself and the heaviness will disappear at once :)
3 / get outside
Taking yourself outside helps shift the heaviness. Being outside boosts your mood, improves happiness and reduces anxiety. A brisk walk is also very effective to release heavy stale energy.
4 / stretch
Stretching can have a soothing impact on the mind. I find raising both my arms above my head raises my energy as well. Slowly raise your arms out to the sides and then raise them until the hands are above the head. Breathe in and out and continue to stretch upward, as if you want to touch the sky. Do this gently though.
5 / visualize
Visualizing the sun shining on your face or the blue sky above your head are pictures that elicit good feelings.
These actions themselves won’t make a difference if you don’t do them with the intention to feel good. The key is to be present so that your thinking can change. For example, when you go outside be present by noticing things as you pass them. When you are stretching, notice how your body feels.
Apart from this technique to note it and drop it; there are other practices and your own golden rules that you can commit to, to improve your overall well-being. Again, the aim is not to have a rigid list of things you must do, the only rule is that you have the intention daily to feel good. Real discipline is internal – a deep desire from within to feel good. Not to do good and be good, but to feel good. And if you didn’t get it right today, you have a new day tomorrow to try again. You are in training and you will get better at it. One of these days it will be your new habit and you will soar.
If you feel you need guidance to establish a well-being plan of action, you can book a Guidance Session or buy our Ignition Guide.
Also look out for Sarah’s upcoming story on how she is putting my ultimate weight loss secret to test.