Is Your Inner Geek or Klutz Showing?

Remember how excited you were when it was time to go back to school? What??? You weren’t excited at that prospect? Most kids were as excited about that idea as we are about facing another diet! On the other hand, maybe you were kind of geeky (like me) and actually LIKED school…(even if I hated dieting!)

Many times I was happy at the thought of a new year, and still, some years I was far from excited about the prospect of going back to school. What was the difference? It was all in my mindset…usually because of something that happened months earlier—at the end of the last school year. Over the summer the angry word ballooned into WWII or in my imagination a whispered secret grew until I was convinced everyone in the lunchroom was laughing at me, or I was sure that some faux pas I made would make me an outcast for the rest of my life…only to find come fall no one was angry with me or laughing at me or even remembered the incident that had me dreading going back to school!

When we are looking at making any change in our lives it helps if we remember that. One little thing can grow in our minds and influence how we look forward the next period in our lives. We can choose to let that thing FESTER or FOSTER…that thought can POISON our attitude or PUMP it up.

Think for a minute about those days…what negative thoughts about going back to school come to mind? New teachers with a reputation for being mean? Was learning a challenge for you and therefore you feared being called on in class and being embarrassed in front of your friends? Were you a bit of a misfit…was the social side of school your big challenge, dealing with the other kids? Was school frankly boring? Did the idea of recess or PE send you into panic attacks? Were you nervous about the unknown as you headed to a new school, either because of a geographic move or because you graduated, whether that was from elementary school, junior high or high school?

On the flip side, what aspect of going back to school was a positive for you? Did you enjoy getting new clothes? Did you like the smell of wood as you sharpened a bunch of brand new pencils (okay, my geekiness is showing)? Was there something special that happened one year that made a big difference in your eagerness (or willingness) to go back to school? Maybe you got a brand new pair of shoes, or a new big-kid bike, or you were assigned to a teacher you liked. Were you a social butterfly, maybe separated from friends during the summer eagerly waiting to catch up on all your activities? Did the idea of meeting a bunch of new people and having the opportunity to make new friends excite you?

It is important to look at both sides of the going back to school question because the chances are good that unless you have actively worked on those things you still face some of the same challenges…and you will still have some of those same strengths. None of them is wrong or bad…any more than others are good or better. They just are. We all have some of each…and sometimes we seem to have some of both polar opposites at the same time!

Think about your past fears and weaknesses and how if you allowed yourself to, you could ruin a large part of your summer by focusing on those thoughts instead of the many positive aspects of the year.  Now ponder what sorts of thoughts you allowing to fester in your mind…so that they keep running around and around in there, poisoning your ability to look forward to a healthy body. Here’s some ways you can shift that focus so you stop wasting time focusing on the wrong things and start enjoying your healthy life NOW!

Exercise 1: write those festering thoughts down…start with a clean piece of paper with a line drawn vertically down the middle. On the left side of the line, write down what you perceive as a weakness or a fear…something holding you back from your dream of a slender healthy body. It could be how you feel about your body…for example I remember overhearing my mother talking to one of her friends about my weight, and how the boys used to call me “Thunder Thighs”…and no matter how thin I was I still had those thoughts in my memory affecting how I felt about my body…even years later. It could be that you don’t think you are athletic…maybe you feel uncoordinated (my family used to jokingly call me “Grace”…superficially kinder than calling me “Klutz” but with the same effect.) Whatever it is, write it down.

Now, think about that statement and how you can (or did) turn it around…how can you make it a positive? Write that positive aspect down on the right side of the line. Sure I still have large thighs compared to lots of people…but what I decided to do was focus on the strength in those legs. Those thighs carry me around, and allow me to visit all kinds of wonderful places and meet all sorts of people. So I write, “I am so grateful for my strong, supportive legs that give me freedom and adventure.” To counteract the image of my klutziness, I write a positive memory about how I move, “I’ve been told I walk lightly, almost silently” or I could write about an area where I am graceful or strong where grace is not a necessity, “I am an excellent swimmer and my body glides through the water easily.”

Exercise 2: Now contemplate your past strengths and acknowledge what is easy for you…what you are already doing right in terms of your health. Some of these things may be what you wrote down on the right side of the line in the above exercise…even so, write them down again. Start with a clean piece of paper. ONLY write down successes here, from improvements you have made to things you have mastered. Always write them down in a positive manner…not that you have room to improve—that goes without saying in most things! This is not the time for modesty! Don’t be shy…no one else gets to see this list unless YOU choose to share it with them. On this list write little things and big things. Do you already drink a lot of water? Awesome! Write it down! Do you regularly get 7-9 hours of sleep a night? Fantastic—jot that one down, too! Have you given up soda pop? Or cut back? Write it down. Every day refer to this list of successes. It will help you see just how good you are doing. As you add new successes in your life, be sure to add them to your list. It is easy for us to point out our shortcomings…but sometimes we need help remembering our good points! We may not be comfortable asking for those “Atta Girls” or we might not have anyone around to pat us on the back–it is up to us to sing our own praises and this list helps keep them up close and personal!

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