Some people get songs stuck in their head. I get mind worms.
Not the Trichinella kind (gross), but rather the, “I have a message for you, and I’m not going away until you listen” kind.
And although I’m not a huge fan of spreading things like colds and worms, I have a particular mind worm worth sharing.
It all started a few months ago. I was watching a conversation between Oprah and Shonda Rhimes. (Because who in their right mind wouldn’t be lit up by a conversation between Oprah and Shonda?!)
The discussion was about Shonda’s year of yes. I thought the message for me was going to be about how I say yes in my life. But as usual, what we think we will learn and the message we receive don’t always align.
What actually hit me during the conversation occurred when Shonda was discussing how she had recently lost weight. She hadn’t gone on a crazy diet or restricted herself from eating certain foods. Instead, Shonda had just come to the decision that she was no longer going to eat things unless she really craved them. No more walking out to the kitchen at 3:00 pm feeling restless and grabbing chocolate just for funsies because it’s there. Unless Shonda could name her craving, she would not consume.
As Shonda told her story, a phrase popped into my head like a bolt of lightning, and it’s been squirming around up there ever since: Consume only what you crave.
And this phrase was interesting because its essence is similar to that of a blog post I’d written a while back called “Find What Makes You Full.” But although related, my mind worm reflected something beyond the post.
“Consume only what you crave” was a mind worm of expanded awareness.
And this awareness was related to a decision I’d made almost a year ago. A decision to create more time for things — and move towards opportunities — that feed and nourish me.
This decision was part of my broader transformation to be an empowered actor in my life…About coming out of autopilot and being mindful and intentional in the reality I create and how I experience my experiences. It was about asking questions like —
- Am I making powerful decisions about what I bring into my mind, body, heart, time, and energy, or am I giving my power over to others or external forces?
- Am I generating the feelings I want to have, or am I consuming things that leave me feeling afraid, anxious, sad, angry, dissatisfied, or yearning for things that don’t add value to my life?
As part of this transformation, I had made important changes to my daily habits, my boundaries, and the golden compass I use to make decisions. Seemingly small nudges that coalesced into something big.
The results born from these changes were amazing. Like night and day. And I’m so grateful for them.
But when I contracted my newest mind worm (yes, I have others), I immediately became hyperaware that I had room to grow. I was of course annoyed at first that some things had snuck by my impeccable attention but ultimately thankful for this realization because happiness comes with growth.
You see, despite all the important changes I’d made, I realized I was still consuming things that neither fed nor nourished me. In particular, I was watching the morning news, almost religiously. I had also fallen into the habit of mindless, autopilot social media scrolling. Perhaps these are small things for some, but they were huge problems for me.
So, I took a deeper look:
What value do I get from these two habits?
Nothing. Nada. Meh.
In fact, the answer was the opposite of value. It was worse than nothingness. These things were like a vortex sucking value out of me.
If I stopped doing these two things, what would I love to do with the time instead?
At first, I thought, “I don’t know.” (So don’t freak out if this question blows your mind, too.) But my own coach doesn’t allow me to say I don’t know anymore. (I will neither confirm nor deny that I may have been overusing it as a crutch…just a little.) So, I then instead had to shift to, “What do I know?”
And I went to two tricks that help me figure out what I know.
- First, I looked along my life story timeline to uncover what has fed and nourished me in the past.
- Then, I harnessed the glorious power of complaints. “What do I complain about not having time for that I know would bring me joy?”
And through these tricks, I made a lovely, glorious list of things to crave:
- Learning about things that pique my curiosity, like how do you cut a mango the right way, and how do the bacteria in our guts affect our mood, and how do black holes work?
- Sitting in ideation and imagination. Mental journaling.
- Playing with my kids.
And about a billion other things.
And although the list was clearly magical, it wasn’t yet enough to honor the mind worm. The message wasn’t to merely understand what I might crave. It was about learning to be being present and aware and choosing in the moment.
What do I crave right now?
So, I began being mindful about when I was falling into the empty consumption of the two behaviors I’d flagged. And slowly, I began to replace these behaviors with ones much more nourishing. And the sum result of this journey is that I haven’t watched the news or auto-scrolled without intention in months. And I’ve lost nothing. Zero. Zilch.
And, as a bonus, I know how to cut a mango properly. I give complete props to gut bacteria. I am more freaked out by black holes than ever before. And, I am almost certain my mini gurus have enjoyed being crushed by me in Catan.
So why am I sharing my mind worm with you?
First, our stories always have nuggets for others. So mine may have a few nuggets for your own growth and transformation.
Second, I know many of you want to be empowered actors in your lives. And if you are at a point where you want to take back your time and attention, I want to offer you something to experiment with. A gift.
So, I’ll leave you with this:
Over the next few weeks, be a witness to what you consume. Start noticing:
- When do you consume out of habit or on autopilot?
- What’s the trigger?
- Is it a feeling? Are you bored or restless, anxious, or sad?
- Is it when you feel disconnected?
- Is it just built into your daily schedule?
- What’s the behavior that follows the trigger? What are you consuming in those moments?
- Foods you don’t really want?
- Information that makes you feel afraid, overwhelmed, tired, anxious, angry, or sad?
- Buying things that bring you little joy or value?
- What’s the reward, and is it truly the reward you want…the reward you deserve as the beautiful human you are?
- It calms my nerves versus it brings me joy
- It gives me a rush of adrenaline versus it raises my energy vibration to peace, joy, love, or excitement
- It keeps me going versus it grows and expands me
- It lets me know what’s going on versus it allows me to act in a way that serves myself or others
- It keeps me in the loop versus it gives me deep connection
I’ll end the homework here because it’s a pretty hefty assignment. Work with this a bit to give you what you need to then start experimenting with new habits and things to consume.
And before I close out, I want to remind us…myself included…of two things:
- Every moment of our lives, we are in choice. Choice about our thoughts, feelings, and actions. About how we experience our experiences. About what we consume. The question isn’t about whether choice exists; it’s about whether we give away our power to choose to someone or something else.
- Every day, we also have a choice about what we offer to those around us. On social media. In our day-to-day discussions. In the grocery store. The words we use, the gifts we share, the energy we emit. We choose what we bring to life in this world and whether it can serve as nourishment, anti-value, or nothingness.
We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. And if you found value in this, please make sure you follow us on social media or subscribe to our blog.
Because words mean different things to different people and in different contexts…
My message is about stepping outside of auto-pilot to make mindful choices about consuming things that feed and nourish us — things we crave because they enhance our life rather than things we consume out of habit or because we’ve given over choice to external forces. “Consuming what we crave” in this essence is not “consuming because we crave” or addiction. Although some of the questions I pose here have relevance to habits that become addictions, a conversation around addiction would be a separate discussion to be had with a mental health professional or addiction specialist.
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