This week’s newsletter draws on some of my cultural upbringing, but for those of you who are here for the health and wellness or even the weight loss spin, I promise you I’m gonna get there. So stay with me!
As some of you know, we are in a holiday heavy time in the Jewish calendar and just ended the High Holy Days, a 10 day period that started with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and ended with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
As someone who considers myself traditional but not religious, these holidays are filled with words and prayers that don’t resonate. During Rosh Hashanah we talk much about our enemies and then there are sins and atonement. I am far from perfect but I certainly don’t feel like a sinner and Who are these enemies anyway?
And then I got to thinking, maybe the enemies are the thoughts in our own heads. As in you are your own worst enemy.
When have you engaged in a few rounds of:
I’m not pretty enough
I am not thin enough
I am not successful enough
I am not X,Y or Z enough.
Or in comparison, self-judgment, catastrophizing, self-deprecation.
As humans, we are constantly being inundated with negative thoughts and this is universal, so if you can relate, know that you’re not alone.This negativity may even have doubled as a survival mechanism. Scanning for danger allowed our predecessors to detect threats to their survival.
But in today’s world, the negativity bias is not protective and in fact it is harmful.
As I share in “Hungry for More,” emotional stress, that can be a result of the negative noise in our head, causes our hunger hormones to surge.
“negative thoughts and emotions literally hijack our hunger hormones”
And make us more likely to use food to soothe and to seek hyperpalatable food – high fat, high sugar, high carb, yup it’s not broccoli we are hungry for!
We know that negativity and negative thoughts have concrete physical side effects as well and have been associated with symptoms like headaches, chest pain, fatigue, palpitations, indigestion, and other stomach issues. Negative thinking is, not surprisingly, also associated with depressed mood, anxiety, social withdrawal and isolation and has been linked to chronic medical conditions like cardiovascular disease, hypertension and even degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
So given this, I guess it is a sin to give way to the enemy in our head, to not intervene in the thing that can do us much harm, mind and body. But labeling our thoughts this way is not helpful or constructive. What is helpful is awareness, non-judgement and self-compassion.
And finally, remember that navigating our negative thoughts is an ongoing practice. We can never rid ourselves of this tendency, but we can through practice, awareness, acknowledgement, and a true intention do better.
If you want to hear my entire musings on this topic, listen to this week’s podcast. And as always, if you love what you see, share this newsletter with someone you love!
Wishing you a happy and healthy week!