There have been a lot of questions and some (understandable) confusion over the 50/50 principle – that 50% of our emotions will be positive and 50% will be negative if we are doing things right. It’s hard to accept that a whole 50% of your thoughts will be negative and understand why that isn’t a huge problem. On this episode, I guide you through a few reasons why negative thoughts are normal, necessary, and need your time and respect.
Through a few recent stressful and frustrating experiences, I show some great examples from my life where negative feelings can, and should, be allowed. I also talk about how you are able to figure out what negative emotions should be allowed and which ones need to be overridden or rerouted.
Katrina Ubell: You are listening to the Weight Loss For Busy Physicians podcast with Katrina Ubell, MD, episode number 49.
This is Weight Loss For Busy Physicians. The podcast where busy doctors like you get the practical solutions and support you need to permanently lose the weight and feel better, so that you can have the life you want. This is the resource you’ve been looking for to guide you on the journey to overcome your stress eating and exhaustion and move into freedom around food. Here’s your host, Dr. Katrina Ubell.
Katrina Ubell: Well, hey there. How are you? Welcome to the podcast. Thank you for joining me today on episode number 49. I’m so excited to talk to you because it’s been a couple of weeks actually. I got a little bit ahead for myself because we went out of town over the week of Thanksgiving, and so now I’m finally back and dug out and ready to record another episode. I can’t wait to tell you more about where we went and what we did, because it totally feeds right into the topic of today’s podcast. In fact, there was part of the trip where I thought to myself, “Well, maybe the silver lining here is that I have some really great things to talk about for the podcast. This makes really good podcast material.” I can’t wait to tell you more about that.
Before we get started with that, there’s two things I wanted to tell you about. The first thing is pomegranates. I have these fond memories of eating pomegranate seeds, but not at home. My mom didn’t buy them and we just didn’t really eat them. But my “second mom”, my best little friend growing up, her mom was like my second mom growing up and she was the person who introduced me to pomegranates. I remember so distinctly being in their kitchen and her opening these things up and getting the seeds out and it was such a mess. We had to be so careful because the juice would stain our clothes, and it was staining everything, and all this stuff. I remember thinking, “These are so yummy.” Let’s face it they’re a pain, right? They’re a pain to get all those seeds out. You can buy them already prepackaged, already de-seeded, or I guess, whatever. The seeds you could buy, but they don’t taste as the fresh ones.
A friend of mine, a neighbor, was telling me about this pomegranate de-seeder thing that she had bought at a local grocery store and how great it was. Then her husband broke it. We were just chatting about that. I thought, “What? A pomegranate de-seeder?” I looked it up on Amazon, and she showed me which one it was. Just on a whim, I thought, “Okay, sure, I’ll buy it, I’ll get it.” I got it and then bought some pomegranates. I’s like the simplest looking thing, but I tell you, this thing works so well. I could not even believe it. It’s super simple. You just follow the instructions.
My friend, I’m asking her, “How do you do this?” She’s like, “You just kind of cut it, and cut the sides a little, put it on this thing and then you just wack it a little with a spoon.” I was thinking, “What?” I was like, “You hit it hard?” Like, “No, no, you kind of tap it, and just hit it a little.” I thought, “All right, let me just give it a try.” This thing works so well. At the end, there’s a few little seeds that if you want to be a perfectionist, no, if you just wanted to get them all out it’s a little bit of digging, but not very much at all. There’s a little bit of the white pulpy guts part that falls through and so you have to pick those out of the seeds a little. It seriously is so great and so fast.
It’s called the seed out 60 second pomegranate de-seeder. I’m going to put a link to it in the show notes, which you can find at katrinaubellmd.com/49, the number 49. I’ll put a link to it on the show notes so you can … If you’re driving right now you don’t have to remember what this thing is called, if you want to check it out. Seriously, I’d love to share something with you guys that I’m delighting in and finding really useful. If you like pomegranates, this is the time for it. My kids are totally enjoying them to. I typically never got them because they’re a pain, but they’re not a pain anymore, it’s so great. Seed out 60 second pomegranate de-seeder.
Okay, number two. I want to talk to you about iTunes reviews. Of course, right? Guess what? There’s 247 reviews. We are making some serious progress, people. So excited, so happy, and so grateful and thankful to all of you who have left me a review. As you may recall from previous podcasts, my goal is to have 500 reviews. We are almost halfway there, so excited. I can’t wait for more of you to leave me reviews. If you would please leave me one, I would really appreciate it.
Now what I wanted to read for you today, as you know that lately what I’ve been doing is I’ve requesting you to leave me some reviews, is I have read some of the reviews that have come through. Now, just yesterday, I believe, or maybe two days ago, my assistant sent me a message, and said, “OMG, you need to go look on the comments page for your podcast, this one podcast. You need to read the comment that I just approved.” I was like, “Okay, this just doesn’t happen very often, I’ll go and check it out.” I seriously got chills. I was like, “Holy moly, this is so amazing.” I decided this time to share it with you. Maybe this person who shared it, maybe she’ll be willing to put it in as an iTunes review as well, if she hasn’t left one already.
I wanted to read it to you because it is such a testament to how life changing this work can be. She posted under the name of Doctor Mon and this is what she writes: “Thank you for creating this podcast, I learned about your podcast from an online physician group. I’ve been struggling to lose 15 pounds and found myself gaining five extra pounds a year as I started getting into my 40s. I found myself barely eating and extremely angry and frustrated, and was now 15 to 20 pounds over the weight I wanted to be. I decided to listen to your podcast because I figured, “What the heck.”
I love that, she put that in quotes. “What the heck.” Right, like why not? Let’s give it a try.
“I can’t begin to explain the difference your podcast has made in my life. I was in a very angry place, trying to control everything around me, especially my children. I was not present. I was always worrying, never sleeping, frustrated by everything and everyone around me. Such a sad place to be. Your podcasts opened my eyes to things about myself I had not looked at in so many years. My entire life I have tried to be perfect at everything I did and how everyone saw me.
Your podcast on B- work really struck a cord with me. My pursuit of 100% in A+ work was stifling me. My to-do list never got shorter and I was drowning in papers and chores, never starting or finishing many. Now I have at least begun to tackle these things that I made more important than they really were. I have lost ten pounds by simply not eating between meals and reading the Obesity Code which, made so much sense to me. I am not hungry and I am eating the foods that I enjoy. I’ve stopped obsessing about food and what my next meal will be. It is liberating.
I am a much happier person, and my relationships have improved as well. I have stopped trying to always be right, and instead began to appreciate all the people around me for who they really are. I have been meditating for two and a half months using Headspace and, wow, I can’t believe how peaceful I feel. I am no longer the “always angry mom” my kids feared. I have backed off from controlling their lives and am simply enjoying the pleasure of watching them evolve into the most amazing people. I am really listening to them, looking into their eyes. I appreciate my husband so much more and I feel closer to him than ever before. I am finally present in my life and I’m eternally grateful that I found this podcast. I was missing out on so much. Thank you for all you do.”
I mean, come on, you guys. Does it get better than that? I pretty much am emotional reading that. I don’t want these reviews or that kind of comment to come across as me tooting my own horn or anything like that, because it literally has nothing to do with that. What I want is for anyone out there who’s listening, who’s thinking, “I don’t know. Should I really try this stuff,” I want you to see evidence, and not just my own personal evidence, but the evidence that other people have that this work can truly, truly change your life. Complete game changer for so many areas. She was looking to lose a couple pounds and, over the course of doing that, has changed her entire experience of her life for the better. It makes my heart sing. I just don’t even know what else to say.
I’m so proud of you, Dr. Mom, for being willing to do this hard work and being willing to basically admit that maybe the way you were doing things wasn’t the best way and being willing to change. That’s so hard for so many people, especially when we’ve been doing things and thinking about things and seeing our lives in a certain way for so many years and so many decades. Oh my gosh, it’s so, so great. So happy.
You don’t have to leave me a long review like that. If you want to, if you want to share with me what’s going on, I would love that. These are my favorites, to be able to read this. If you could even just leave me just one short sentence, whatever you think about the podcast, that would be so great and I would seriously appreciate it so much. Thank you so much.
Okay. Guess what? Today we’re going to spend some more time talking about the concept of 50/50. 50% of our emotions will be negative and 50% of our emotions will be positive. That is if we’re doing it right. If we are living a good human existence, the way humans should be living, meaning we’re not using food and alcohol and other things to buffer and neutralize our negative emotions, then it’s going to be about 50/50.
One of my really amazing clients asked me the following question. I coached her on this and answered her this question within my current coaching group. I wanted to share the question and the answer with you on the podcast, as well, because I know so many of you have the same question. She gave me permission to share this. This is what she wrote, she said, “I’ve heard you say that 50% of our thoughts are likely to be negative. This has helped me. Just knowing I’m thinking something negative doesn’t mean anything is wrong. Now I’m wondering, what’s the point of all these thought models and changing our thinking if we can’t improve to less than 50% negative thoughts? I know it can’t always be rainbows and unicorns, but I’d like to think that doing this work results in a happier person, which I already think I’m pretty happy. Are more thoughts just less negative? Or have I just confused myself thinking about thoughts for too long?” I love that. We’re thinking about our thinking. We’re like, “Wait a minute. Maybe I’m making this harder than it has to be.”
Yeah, for sure you’re completely right. This is the way it is. Even when we think we’re pretty happy, we’re still going to have a considerable amount of negative emotions. This is normal. We want to feel this way. We want to feel negative emotions about certain things, like the aftermath of natural disasters, rape, murder, child abuse, genocide, the death of someone close to us. We want to feel sad, upset, horrified, terrified. We want to feel those ways about these things happening. People who don’t feel negative emotions about these things are kind of sociopaths. There might be variability to it, but if someone is happy about genocide there’s something wrong there. We shouldn’t be feeling positive emotions about these things.
The thing to remember, though, is that we get messages from the media and advertisers and just the people that we are around from a very early age that we should be happier, that we should be happy most of the time. That’s what advertising is. It’s convincing us that we are missing out on something, that if we’re hungry this is the food we need. If we want to relax and have a good time, this is the alcohol we should drink. If we are wanting in any way, this is the thing that we should buy. Those messages make us think that if we are not feeling good or not feeling happy, then we need something in our lives to make us feel better.
It’s the same thing with gambling or so many other things that are those neutralizers that make us feel better, or at least not feel as negative. So many of us then, when we aren’t feeling that way, we think something is wrong and we overeat to try to feel better or we drink too much to try to feel better or we work too much to try to feel better, thinking that maybe more money will be the solution. Then, in the aftermath of that, the result is no, you actually generally feel worse. We think, “Oh, I’m going to overeat all this stuff. I’m going to eat all these sweets. It’s going to taste so great.” It does, for a moment, but then after the fact you physically feel bad, emotionally you may feel bad, you might feel regret or guilt over eating those things. We’re right back in the negative emotion cycle having more than 50% negative emotions.
When you are managing your emotions, when you’re doing thought downloads and doing thought models and finding those thoughts that aren’t giving the results that you want, that aren’t making you feel the way you want to feel, then you can go through the process of thinking in a different way so you’re moving towards that 50/50. That’s what we want.
Now she also said, “Are more thoughts just less negative,” which I think is also definitely a possibility. If you think about, say you’re somebody who is on social media all the time, has all the updates from the news agencies coming up on your phone, you listen on the radio to the news, you’re just constantly getting the news feedback, all that information in your head, you’re going to have a lot more negative thoughts. Because what they are providing to you is a list of all the things that are wrong, in general. All the horrible things that happened, the number of people who are murdered, all the horrible things happening in the government, all the horrible things happening in the world. You never get a day on the news where the newscasters are like, “Hey, guess what, it was an awesome day today. Nothing bad happened. Everybody lived. Everyone survived. It was fantastic. Let’s go around and talk to everybody about how they had such a great day.”
If you listen to a newscast for 30 minutes about all the amazing things that happen to everybody, think how good you’d feel. You’d be like, “The world is amazing. Oh my God, look at all the amazing things that are happening to people. Look at the amazing things that happen to me.” You’d immediately start looking at your life in that way, too. Except that’s not at all the way that the modern news agencies operate at all.
When you are putting all of those negative sources of information into your brain all the time, then, yeah, you’re going to have a lot to manage, a lot of negative thoughts to manage. Say, you decide, “You know, those things really just don’t serve me. I really could get the information I need and want through this other way of doing it that really serves me.” You’re going to have a lot fewer negative thoughts. Maybe you won’t be as intensely negative about something going on in the government because you haven’t heard about it over and over again. You haven’t been bombarded with that information over and over again. You aren’t constantly reliving the tragedies that are going on in the world by hearing about them and seeing images of them. Maybe you are informing yourself as to what happened, you feel some negative emotion about that, in the way that you would want to, and then you are moving onto something else.
For sure, you can sometimes have less negative emotions. I want to also make sure that you understand that that 50%, and we say 50/50, 50% is the average over weeks and months. It doesn’t mean that 50% of every hour is going to be that way and 50% of every day is going to be that way. It’s very possible that you still might have a day or a week or even longer than that that was largely negative in terms of emotions. That can be okay. Because then you’ll have other times when things are really going well, and then you’re having more than 50% positive emotions. It all evens itself out over time.
Sometimes you will have something going on and, try as you might, you might be having some negative emotions and you’re trying to coach yourself through it or trying to have a better feeling emotion, but ultimately you’re main emotion is a negative one. I’m going to give you two examples in my own life to kind of give you an example of what I’m talking about.
Just recently, we decided to switch our kids’ school. We had been at the old school for nine years. This was our ninth year. We had decided ten years ago that we thought it was at least worthwhile to start at that school for our oldest in preschool. Over the course of a couple years, we decided, yes, I think this is the right school, I think this is where we want to be. It really was the right fit for him, for sure at that time. Over the last couple of years, some things have changed. I don’t have to get into all of the details and bore you with all that, but basically some things have changed and we had some concerns about philosophy and opportunities and if the philosophy of the school was still in line with what we were wanting and needing. As our two younger children were coming onboard into school and we were seeing how they were developing and learning, we just were wondering if there was maybe a different school that would be a better fit. Literally, nothing bad happened. There was no ill will there. My husband and I both have tremendous, utmost respect for the teachers and everyone we interacted with. We felt like we outgrew it. It just no longer was the philosophy that we were thinking was the right fit for our family.
It was one of those things where we had been talking with the new school for a couple of months. Things were a little bit slow. We had the children do their visitation at the school. That was on a Tuesday, and then Wednesday morning they offered them entrance into the school. We honestly didn’t know whether they would. Again, without getting into all the details, there was a real likelihood that they would have said no or that they just didn’t even have space for all of them and we would have to wait. We hadn’t said anything to anybody at school. They offer Wednesday morning that they want the children to start. The following week we were going to be out of town for the first couple of days because we were going out of town for Thanksgiving week, and the new school wanted them to start the Monday after Thanksgiving, which was just two days ago as I’m recording this.
We notified the kids’ teachers Wednesday night. Friday was their last day. It was a very whirlwind, “We’re out of here,” kind of a thing. In our minds, it certainly hadn’t been because we had been thinking about it for a long time, but it definitely was kind of a, “Oh, okay. Let’s just change everything immediately.” That last day came, and I really felt sad. I felt really quite emotional about how sweet and loving the children’s teachers were to the children as they were leaving. My oldest son, who’d had the same teacher, this was his sixth year with the same main teacher, she just did some really, really sweet things. Man, I could get choked up just thinking about it now. So touching. Such a reflection of what an amazing, amazing teacher we always thought she was and continued to think she was, even though we thought that something else would be a better fit. I found myself really choking back tears that day.
It’s so interesting, right. You would think that I’d be like, “Great, we’re out of here. Let’s go to the new school, which we have decided is better.” I wanted to feel sad. I thought, “You know, it’s okay for me to feel sad about the great things that we’re leaving behind, the connections that we’ve made, teachers that we know truly, truly love and care about our children.” Knowing it was going to be just fine at the new school and those teachers would learn to love them and care about them as well. It was emotional. I was feeling sad about it.
Fast forward to two days ago, Monday, start of the new school year, my mom sent me a text, she said, “Happy second first day of school.” That’s what it was. It was like starting all over again, except nobody else was starting their first day. Trying to figure out all the new things and how everything works there, because it’s quite a bit different than what we’re used to. I kept telling myself all kinds of things that were positive, that made me feel good, “This is the right fit. I truly believe that.” I really felt that we would have this figured out in no time flat, that the kids were going to be surrounded by other great classmates, they would make all sorts of new friends, all kinds of reasons why this is great. But still, my overwhelming feeling that morning was nervous and worried.
I’m nervous as I drop the kids off. I go home, I’m working, and I just have that little anxiety thing going on, “I hope they’re having a good day.” I thought to myself, “This is how I want to feel. It would be weird for me to just not care how their first day at this new school is going for them. It makes sense for me to have a 50% negative day on that day” Then at about 20 after one in the afternoon, her teacher called. I thought, “Oh my gosh, what’s going on?” Immediately my brain goes to, “What horrible thing happened?” Instead she was calling to tell me how wonderful a day my daughter had had and how it was so great and she just jumped right into everything and was such an eager learner and already had made a friend. It was so great. That made me feel good, but then I went right back into, “I hope the two boys are doing great. I hope they’re having a good day.”
That’s an example of when we are wanting to feel that authentic way. I decided to just accept that this is a bit of an uncomfortable time in life. Because always the easiest thing to do is to stay where you are and to not change anything. We wanted the change. What goes along with that are a bunch of great things for the kids, we think, but also some discomfort and some worry. That is normal. That is part of that 50% of life that is going to be negative.
What I want to tell you, though, is what I would have done in the past when I was still an overeater. I would have dropped those kids off and then I would have gone to Starbucks and I would have treated myself to a slice of pumpkin bread and some sort of fun, sugary latte of sorts, probably a gingerbread latte, maybe a pumpkin spice one. I would have thought, “Well, that’s a nice thing to do for myself to make myself feel better.” That’s what I used to do. I would treat myself with those things thinking that that was okay to do every now and then. Maybe it is okay to do every now and then, but it certainly doesn’t make my worry go away. It distracts me for a little while. It gives me a bit of a dopamine hit. I still keep all those same thoughts and emotions that I had anyway. Instead of trying to make that go away with sugar and flour, instead I just decided to feel it and just to get to work and know that in a few hours I’d pick them up, and whatever happened we would get through it. They all ended up having a wonderful day. It was great. That reinforced that we were in the right place.
Now I want to contrast this with our recent trip over Thanksgiving week. My in-laws very, very generously and graciously invited all of us to go to Aruba for a week over Thanksgiving week on their dime. It was my husband, our family, his brother and his family, and his sister, and his parents. There were 13 of us and we all went down to Aruba. I had never been before. You would think that sounds amazing. Right? What could go wrong? How could anything be bad? That sounds fantastic. I just want to give you a little story of how the day went when we were traveling down there.
We live in Milwaukee, and there are no direct flights, believe it or not, from Milwaukee to Aruba. We decided to fly from Chicago O’Hare because then we could just fly direct. It’s already kind of a long flight. Aruba is just north of Venezuela. We thought, “Let’s just do a direct flight. It’ll be fine.” Our flight wasn’t until about nine in the morning, but we wanted to be there because it was an international flight. We wanted to aim to be there about three hours in advance. That meant that I got up at 2:30 that morning. The kids slept in their clothes. We woke them up at four. They literally got up and got in the car.
We got going. We drove down to O’Hare, no problems, dropped the car off, got to the airport, checked our luggage, got through everything. We were waiting, no big deal. Got on the plane. Everything seems to be going fine. We’re sitting on the tarmac. Actually we hadn’t even pushed back. We weren’t even on the actual tarmac. Waiting, waiting, waiting.
The captain comes on and says that there’s a problem with the light on one of the wings and that they need to just change out that bulb because even though we were flying down there during daylight, we were flying back, not we, but they would be flying back in the dark. They wouldn’t be able to leave if that light wasn’t working. They of course don’t have a crew down in Aruba to be able to help them with this as well as they could at a big hub like in Chicago O’Hare. Okay, fine, no big deal. We’re waiting for another long while. They come on and say, “Well, now they’re having trouble finding the right bulb. They’re going to go look for it. Trust us, we want to get to Aruba as much as you do. We’re going to really try and hurry this up. It’s going to be probably another hour.” We’re like, “Okay, that’s fine. We’re all good. We are good. We can sit here and wait.”
Time passes. Then they come on and say, “Okay, they can’t find the right thing. We are going to have you get off this plane and we’re going to fly on a different plane.” Okay, great. They’ve got another plane. I’m thinking we’ll just get off the plane and get on the new plane. They’ll board us. No big deal. No, they had us wait for a good two hours. Maybe that’s because they had to do something to get the plane ready. I don’t know what it was, but that’s what we had to do. At this point, we are a good three hours plus delayed in terms of taking off. It actually wasn’t that bad because my brother-in-law and his family were also in the same airport. We were all flying together. We hung out with them, and the kids kind of talked and played. We caught up with them. It was no big deal. Managing my emotions. We’ll get there when we get there. No big deal. Managing my thoughts.
We get on the new plane. Everything works fine. We take off. It’s a five hour flight. It’s a long flight. During the flight, we have the worst turbulence that I have ever experienced. I am not an anxious person. I’ve shared that with you before. I don’t really get nervous about flying, but I am telling you what. I was nervous. I was nervous. Guess what my brain told me? Once we have the first really big jolt, my brain goes, “Oh my God, how sad. If this plane goes down, ten out of the 13 members of this family will be dead.” Okay, thanks, brain. Super useful. Fantastic. Luckily, I was aware and I could catch that one and be like, “Okay, that’s not helpful.” The thought that I chose that made me feel better was, “Planes don’t crash because of turbulence. Planes don’t crash because of turbulence. Planes don’t crash because of turbulence.” Meanwhile my kids are totally glued to their DVD players. Basically don’t even notice anything is going on. Luckily they weren’t frightened. That was the first part.
We got through that. We land. We get off the plane, go through passport control, all the immigration stuff, and go to pick up our bags. Two of the bags come. My brother-in-law’s family, they have all their bags, so they leave. We are still missing a bag. Yep, one bag didn’t make it. Apparently 20 bags didn’t make it onto that plane and then had to be rerouted through Newark or something the next day to be able to come. They were going to come the next day. That was the suitcase that had all of our toiletries in it. I immediately was like, “Oh, no,” and then I thought, “No, this is okay. They have toothbrushes in Aruba. They have hair brushes. We can buy sunscreen. It is not a big deal. Nevermind that the kind of sunscreen I brought is only available in Canada and is the most amazing sunscreen ever. My red-headed children don’t burn when we use it in the hot sun.” But I thought, “Okay, it’s okay. We’ll be fine. This is all fine. We’ll be able to do this.”
We had to wait in that long line, right, to give them the information about what our bag looked like, that is was missing, where we were staying so that they could bring it to us the next day. Then we go to get our rental car that my husband had set up. We go to the Avis station. We’re on island time now, so everything is slow. There’s people in front of us. Finally, my husband gets up to the front of the line. He’s talking to the guy for awhile. Come to find out that when he set up the reservation, he did not set it up with the Avis at the airport. He set it up with an Avis at a different location, and they did not have any cars that would fit our family. We didn’t have a car, which was not a problem because there are plenty of taxis. We had just spent all this time waiting.
Meanwhile, it’s so late. The kids are tired. They were such troopers. I couldn’t believe it. I’m just managing my mind, managing my mind, like, “This is fine. Everything is fine.” We go to get a taxi. The first person is trying to convince us that we can fit the five of us plus the driver in a car that does not seat six people. I was like, No, that is not okay.” They worked it out. We found a car that could take us. That taxi driver agreed to take us to a grocery store so that I could buy some toiletry things, so they said there were no drugstores open at that hour. This ended up actually being super lucky. It was dark. It was raining. The main highway was closed. He knew all the back roads to get us to where we needed to go. He also knew what grocery stores were open and what their hours were, things like that. That was super helpful.
He drops us off. We think, “Okay, great. We’re finally here. Let’s just get our bags up to our room and then we’ll go have some dinner.” That takes some time. We get the keys. The bellhop goes up with us. We open the door and look in, and my in-laws are in there. They’re like, “Hi, you’re here.” We’re like, “Yeah.” They’re like, “Why are you in our room?” We were like, “Why are you in our room?” They had totally given us the wrong keys. Each little thing was not a big deal, but it was just like are you kidding me right now? Could one more thing go wrong? Come on. We had a great bellhop who went down, handled the whole thing for us. I think he could just tell we were done for the day. He was handling it. They had bought some frozen pizzas, so the kids were eating that. I really didn’t want to eat that. Thank goodness my mother-in-law was so gracious as to come to our room after we put the kids to bed so that my husband and I could go down to the lobby and go eat a real meal, which was great.
That was fine. We all got there. I kept telling myself, “This is all good. This is exactly why I coach myself. This is how you manage your thinking.” The next day I wake up, and my husband says, “Okay, yeah. Let’s go get the rental car.” He calls them and they don’t have any. They gave it away. My brain just wanted to have such a fit. Right now I can see how it really wasn’t a big deal at all, but my brain was just like, “This trip is going to hell. This trip sucks. Nothing is going right.” Totally going into emotional childhood, being mad, having a tantrum.
My husband said, “It’s not a big deal because there’s a National reservation place, there’s a National car rental place in the concierge area of the hotel.” We went down there. They, of course, didn’t have a car that was what I wanted, but it ended up working fine. It was so funny. We ended up getting this little sedan that we all crammed into that was so bare bones. It had the windows that have to use the handle to roll them down. My kids, especially my 12 year-old, could not get over that. They thought it was the funniest, most amazing thing that you could roll a window down like that. Same thing for adjusting the rear view mirrors. There was these little knobs, these little levers. They’re like, “You use that to adjust it?” I’m like, “Yes, thank you for making me feel old.” They didn’t always have power everything.
Anyway, we get a new car. That’s fine. We go grocery shopping, get some things. Finally, half that day is over and my brain is just in a funk. It’s just like, “Here we’ve spent half this day of our first day of vacation getting everything sorted out. We still don’t even have our luggage right.” Meanwhile, lots of great things. We have all our swimsuits. We have all our clothes. Lots of good things are happening, but my brain will not let me see it. I started noticing my brain creating these stories and telling me how it was going to be a terrible trip. I had thoughts of, “Why did we even come? This was a terrible idea.” I started basically making up stories about how the kids were going to be crabby and they weren’t going to sleep well and it was going to be a disaster of the trip. I have really no evidence for this, except for the fact that we hadn’t had a great day before. There was no evidence that the kids weren’t doing well. They had slept fine that night before. Why was my brain doing that? They were off happily playing in the pool. We had other people there who we could hang out with who would help with the kids. It was so fascinating watching my brain go completely to the negative and just tell me how it was not going to be a good trip.
This is a great example of where I could choose to believe those stories and feel really negative or I could see that I was only looking at the negative slant and that I could change my thoughts around if I wanted to, that that was an option for me, that I was choosing to think the way I was thinking and I could also choose to think a different way. That’s when the more than 50% negative emotions is unnecessary. It has no upside for me. This is a time when I can just as easily believe we’re going to have a great trip as I can believe that we’re going to have a bad trip. I don’t really want to feel that way when I’m on this trip. It’s worth it to do those models and really do the work to figure out, “Okay, where is my thinking not serving me? I would like to change that.”
Since I had that awareness of my thinking … I even told my husband, “Listen to what my brain is telling me.” He looks at me, probably trying to cover us his bewilderment. He’s like, “Oh, really? Hmm.” He’s not having that experience at all. I was able to see that it really made no sense to think this way and that I was actively choosing to ruin my vacation with my thinking. What I decided to do then, because it wasn’t really going away. I kept thinking that way. I decided to ask myself some better questions. You may remember the better questions podcast from a number of podcasts ago about how to change those questions to give you the answers that you’re really looking for. The questions I asked myself were: How can I have some fun? How can I create some fun for myself right now? It was actually kind of hard. Finally what I did was I went on the lazy river with the kids. We had a great time. It was super fun. That’s exactly what I needed to get me out of that spin cycle I was in.
The other thought I asked myself was how could I find some time for myself. This is always so important for me to remember. The day before I had been with people the entire time. I’m an introvert. I need that time to be able to be by myself, to just regenerate my energy on my own, and I hadn’t had that. What I did for that was I offered to take my daughter up for a nap. While she was napping, I was able to read and rest and feel back to my normal self so that the rest of the day and the rest of the trip we could really have a nice time.
You can see the difference. There’s a time when you are not feeling very positively. You’re having negative emotions, but that feels like the way you want to feel. It feels right. It feels normal and okay to feel a little nervous and worried and anxious about my kids’ first day at a new school. It doesn’t seem normal or useful or like it serves me in any way for me to basically ruin my vacation with my thinking. I think that’s something that is really, really useful for you to think about when you’re thinking about this concept of 50/50, thinking about, “If I’m feeling negatively right now, is that my choice? Am I actively choosing this or is it just happening to me because I’m choosing it, but without intention, without being deliberate?” If you think, “No, I don’t really want to think this way at all about this,” great. That’s when we have work to do. That’s when a thought download and doing some models is a great idea. You want to switch your current thoughts for some new thoughts.
There might be a time where you think, “No, you know what, I had a kid come in the office today who was basically being abused. I had to call CPS. I just feel sick to my stomach over what this poor child has had to go through.” You might want to feel that way for a little while. Maybe not for days and weeks on end. But that probably feels right in that moment to think, “Gosh, what a terrible thing.” That’s empathy. That’s what makes us good people, when we can put ourselves into someone else’s shoes. But then knowing when it’s been enough now. “Okay, I’ve had empathy. I really have thought through what I might be able to do to help this child. Now I’m going to let it go and move on with my life.”
All right. So fun to talk to you. Always love it. One last plug. If you would please leave me an iTunes review, I would appreciate it so much. I’m smiling because I know you’re like, “Okay, turn this off now.” No. If you could please leave me one. I know some people have said to me, “Oh, yeah, maybe I’ll actually leave you one.” If you’ve thought that, could you please go ahead and do that? I would really, really appreciate it. We’re, like I said, almost halfway there. 247 today. Let’s keep it up, if you don’t mind, please. Leaving me a review. I would really, really appreciate it. All right. Take care. I will talk to you soon. Bye bye.
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