Monday, July 7, 2014

Changing Your Inner Dialogue

When I was a kid, I had urinary tract infections all. the. time. Really - like one a month. My parents dragged me around from doctor to doctor to try to figure out why I was getting them. I underwent a painful and, as it turned out, useless surgical procedure when I was around 5 years old. I had test after test after test after test...and nothing. It felt like my whole life growing up was spent being treated for a urinary tract infection, and then around the time I turned 16, they turned into spectacularly painful kidney infections.

Thankfully, I finally discovered the reason for these infections (not until I was 26), and I'm happy to say that I've had exactly two of them in the last 14 years.

But growing up, there was always this voice in my head that said, "Oh, you've got a fever? You're probably sick again. You're always sick. You've got these things wrong with you all the time."

And then there were the migraine headaches that started when I was about 6. I can still remember the first one - there's a picture somewhere of me and my sister sitting in a chair reading a book together, and all I can remember about that day was the incredible amount of pain I was in from this headache. 

And add to that watching my mother with her constant running dialogue in her head telling her that she was dying, every single day...and, well, you probably understand where this is going.

Half of my battle with the anxiety is trying to convince myself that there's actually nothing wrong with my health. I can remember in my first yoga class with Robin, we were somewhere between extended side angle pose and exalted warrior, and I couldn't help but cry at the thought that if my body was capable of feeling so strong in these movements and these poses that there really wasn't anything wrong with me at all.

So maybe that's why I do yoga every day. As a reminder. If I can float through a dozen sun salutations, there's probably nothing physically wrong with me.

I need to shut off that inner dialogue that says to me, "Oh no, a headache? Brain tumor. Nausea? Pancreatic cancer. Twinge in your jaw? Heart attack."

And I'm sure there are other people out there who think the same thing, but when some of that inner dialogue comes into my head while I'm in the throes of a bout of anxiety, it's a total disaster, usually involving a visit to the urgent care clinic (or the emergency room if it's particularly bad), and costing us a small fortune with our crappy high-deductible insurance plan.

It's just like the mantra workshop I took back at Kripalu in April: we all have a mantra practice already, whether we realize it or not. The things we tell ourselves are the things that we become. If I continue to tell myself that I'm sick all the time, well, I'm probably going to get sick. At the very least, I'm not going to feel very good, physically or mentally.

My mantra for this week while I'm on my yoga mat will be: I am strong. I am healthy. I am whole.

What kinds of things do you tell yourself that you wish you could change? Are you even aware of them?

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