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You Can Change Your Mind

by Elise Museles

I love my time that I spend on my 6’ x 2’ yoga mat.  It’s a space I look forward to being in as often as my schedule permits.

I go to the type of classes that are jam packed with wall-to-wall people. You’re only a few inches from your neighbor. It’s hot (around 100 degrees). It’s hard.  And it’s really sweaty.  So, it’s no wonder that the person next to me might drip on my mat a little or hoover their foot over my space when going into a fancy arm balance.

Even though I know this is part of what is to be expected, I don’t like it.  I get irritated and a little territorial (okay, very) over MY purple rectangle.

It’s totally irrational…and my ridiculous behavior started to bother me. After all, I was in yoga class! That’s my time to focus on my body and flow. Why was I wasting energy getting so exasperated with my fellow students, instead of being in the moment and reaping all the stress-reducing benefits?

After class, I thought and thought about it. How ironic that yoga is about quieting the mind, and here I was regressing by getting all riled up about someone else’s sweat or perfectly pedicured toes in my “territory”.

Then I realized: whether or not I let it ruin my whole experience is entirely up to me!

I knew I had to tame my pessimistic mindset and think about how grateful I was to be on my mat connecting with my breath and my body. Whether I saw the glass as half empty or half full was my choice.

Of course, this may seem obvious, but how often is your glass half empty? Be honest.

It’s all a matter of perspective.

I talk all day long with people who are shifting their habits and learning a whole new style of eating and caring for themselves. One of the first discussions we have centers around their mindset.

I can almost write the script as they pose the inevitable question: “Am I going to feel deprived?”  They start out worrying about all the foods they can’t eat as they convert to a healthier, whole foods diet.

So I ask them: do you want to come from a place of deprivation, which will most likely lead to overeating, or a date with a big old bag of chips and a pint of ice cream? Or does it sound better to change your mindset and focus on all the beautiful, colorful and nourishing foods you are going to add in that will give you energy, a trimmer waist and better health?

My clients who adopt the positive outlook are the ones who reap the benefits without “feeling deprived”.  They approach their changes with enthusiasm and excitement about all the new and different meals & snacks they will be eating.

Can you see the difference?

Do you ever get caught up in a cycle of thinking that you know isn’t serving you well, but you just can’t pull yourself out?

Reframing Negativity

When you start focusing on the negative, whether it’s being agitated from a stranger encroaching on your space or missing your gooey chocolate brownie, you are cheating yourself out of the positive in your experiences.

Next time you catch yourself consumed by a mindset that is more pessimistic, stop and ask:

• How can I reframe this to see the good in what I am doing?
• Are these thoughts preventing me from living in this moment, enjoying it and staying present?
• By holding on to this negativity, am I creating a physiological stress response in my body? (The stress response increases the production of insulin and cortisol and decreases the body’s calorie burning capacity.)

It’s just a matter of looking through a new lens. Sounds simple, but take note of your thoughts and reactions throughout the day. Observe. Listen. And when you find yourself drifting into a not-so-positive place, try to do an about-face. You can change your mind.

You’ve got this.

Question of the day: How do you shift your perspective to see the good in your situation? As always, share your comments & insights below.

4 Responses to You Can Change Your Mind

  1. Kyle Tertemiz February 25, 2013 at 4:18 am #

    Elise,

    I love how you illustrated how one’s own perspective in any situation can make such a drastic difference. I find that with exercise especially I could find myself looking at it as a “chore” rather than a positive experience where I was bettering myself mentally and physically. I need to control how I view the group class or personal training session and make it as positive as possible 🙂

    • Elise March 1, 2013 at 2:03 am #

      Hi Kyle~
      I love how you are able to change your mind and turn your negative into a positive. It does make a huge difference in the way we experience things. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Elise March 1, 2013 at 2:09 am #

    Saman! What a perfect example of seeing the glass half full. It sounds like once you accepted your living situation, you made it work for you as you pursue your studies. And you took it even one step further by really focusing on all the benefits to being in the remote setting…the way you describe the peacefulness and lack of distractions sounds so appealing. It’s nice to know that you had the ability to change your mindset, and as a result, you felt happy and at peace. Lots of luck to you.

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