I just got back home from Rochester, MN where my husband had surgery at the Mayo Clinic. Everything went well, thank you, and he is recovering just fine. In the two days I spent observing people in the waiting room and dealing with my own feelings on the matter, I learned a few things. Several things struck me. First, how many sick people there are in the world. Second, how a kind word, a smile, and holding the elevator door open can brighten someone’s day. Also, how hard it is to stay present when the present is unpleasant. Or worse, boring. There are weeks’ worth of blog entries wrapped up in these three topics, so let’s tackle one at a time. On the way home, I listened to You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero on Audible (available here), which blended into my thoughts and gave me a jumping off point for today’s subject. Side note: Since I listened to the book, rather than reading it, I don’t have specific ideas or phrases cited. I highly doubt anything is blatantly plagiarized, but on the off chance I regurgitated a phrase word for word, I assure you it is not intentional.
Many things struck me in Jen Sincero’s book, but for our purposes here I want to talk about how we create reality. Jen suggests that truth isn’t something outside of us that cannot be controlled. She believes we create our own truth. We just come up with what we believe to be true, about our lives, our relationships, our financial situation, and it will be true. Instead of setting an abstract goal like “I want to [insert goal] someday.” Tell yourself, “I am [insert goal].” Like, “I am a blogger” or “I am a world traveler”. Then go act like this is the honest to goodness truth. It sounds outlandish, like something a delusional person would do, but we actually do it all the time. We convince ourselves that we aren’t good enough, smart enough, and people don’t like us. We decide that we can’t do something, or we don’t have time, or we don’t have resources, and – What do you know? – we’re right. Why couldn’t we come up with a truth that makes us happy?
I used this lesson just this week. I couldn’t take my husband, who is restricted from driving, back to Rochester for a follow-up visit because his appointment was during our daughter’s dance recital week. That was my truth. I thought I couldn’t ask someone else to take over such a crazy schedule. “Here’s her dancing shoes and 5-page schedule with notes on makeup and hair. See ‘ya!” Plus, she had her regular school and I had my regular yoga classes to teach. There was no way I could leave town that week. Consequentially, we had a major logistics problem in which we had no idea how to get him to a clinic 8 hours away. We tentatively enlisted the help of a friend who would drive there, stay the night, wait in waiting rooms for hours, and drive back. Of course, he was happy to do it, but it probably wasn’t high on his fun list. Not to mention I had a husband who likely thought I wasn’t being very supportive. Plus, who was going to take notes and actually remember what the doctors had to say? Inspired by Jen, I decided to change my truth. My new truth was, “I have to take my husband to his doctors’ appointments next week.” So I made it happen. I texted my boss, put my classes on the substitute schedule, made travel plans that crammed the trip in between our daughter’s rehearsals (which I just realized was possible with a few hours to spare IF everything goes well), and called my parents to come watch our girl and our dogs for a couple of days. Now I have a new reality in which I feel much more supportive of my husband and am still able to take care of my daughter.
The first thing that struck me about Mayo Clinic was the number of sick people there are in the world. This one clinic serves thousands of people every day. How do we keep ourselves from being one of them? To be clear, I am no expert in the medical field. Nor am I passing judgment on sick people. It seems, however, that proper nutrition and self-care makes some amount of sense. For example, decide what the proper diet is for you, whatever that looks like. Probably mostly veggies, quality protein, and healthy fats. Get rid of the sugar. Get rid of the synthetic sugar-like substances. Eat real food that takes some time to prepare. Choose food that still looks like what it is supposed to be and doesn’t come from boxes, cans, or bottles. Or at least minimize these things. Shop at the farmer’s market more, and learn how to prepare what you find there. Stay tuned for features from the farmers market this summer! Then exercise most days of the week, meditate, and get proper sleep.
What if your truth is that you don’t have enough time or energy to prepare healthy meals for yourself and your family. You believe that you have to order take-out or rely on processed food to get something, anything on the table. Because you’re too busy, right? Now, what if I told you that you created that truth? What if your truth, instead, was that wholesome food was so important to you that you made the time to prepare it. Maybe that means becoming a prepper. Plan out your meals ahead of time and prep them on your days off so that when it comes time to get something on the table quick, you won’t have to spend any more time than if you would have made it from a box. You decide how your time is spent. Carve out 30 minutes a day several times a week to get some exercise. Set rules for yourself as to what time electronics will be shut off so you can get some quality sleep. Push the snooze button one less time to get up and meditate. Again, say “I will” rather than “I want to”.
It is widely documented that mindset is integral in your health. You decide how you feel, and maybe how you heal. People with chronic pain have found relief by sitting with their pain, visualizing it dissipating, and actively relaxing. They have decided that their truth is pain-free. People with a positive mindset heal faster. You’ve seen it yourself. You’ve seen the people who are struck by a tragic illness or injury who believe they will get better and set goals reflecting this belief. Examples that come to mind are a local fireman who lost his leg in a motorcycle accident and returned to work in a matter of weeks, and Boston marathon bombing victims who ran the marathon the very next year. You’ve also seen people who have given up completely under such duress. What is different between these two types of people? Their truth. Their mindset. The people in the first group wanted to heal, they didn’t accept any other reality.
You can conduct an experiment yourself by taking your pulse, then sit quietly and focus on your breath, breathe slowly and deeply, then take your pulse again. For a bonus experiment, try this with your blood pressure. If it works with heart rate and blood pressure, it’s not such a stretch to believe changing your truth can speed wound healing, help with post-surgical recovery, and decrease illness severity. Simply believing you are better can make you better. The trick is you really have to believe and operate every minute of every day as if your truth is the honest to goodness unfailing truth, not just something you made up.
This is also how vision boards and affirmations work. If you can see your chosen truth every day in detailed, concrete form, you will start to believe it. You can create the life you want to live on a white board. Tell yourself about your new life in the mirror every morning until you believe it. Still seem coo-coo? Think about athletes psyching themselves up before a big game. They visualize their upcoming performance, sinking the shot, crossing the finish line first. This is another example of creating your truth.
Now, I’m not saying that you should get up off the couch and start training for next month’s marathon, even though you haven’t exercised in a decade. But, you could train to run a 5k next month. Start by saying “I am a runner” and make it true, just be sensible. Start slow. Same goes if you are injured. Listen to your body and your doctor, then make your goals. You can do this!
The next time you feel like what you want is out of reach, make what you want true. Once it’s true, you will take the steps needed to get there. I am going to take my husband to Rochester, so I made plans to make it possible. If you want to eat healthier, start looking up recipes on Pinterest and make shopping lists so you can start prepping your new meals. If you want to heal, visualize yourself walking down the street, set a goal date to return to work, make actual plans to do so because it’s the truth!