The Power of Your Inner Voice and How to Change it

We tend to say a lot more negative things to ourselves than we do positive ones. If you haven’t really listened to your inner voice for an extended period of time, consider doing so, at least for a couple days. You’ll probably be surprised at some of the negative thoughts that go through your mind. We often make comments to ourselves that we would never say to a friend. Simply being aware of these thoughts is the first step to changing our inner voice.

Having an awareness of your inner thoughts is important for many reasons. For one, your inner thoughts reflect your subconscious and the subconscious controls a lot of our conscious actions and how we show up in the world. Anything that changes or increases your awareness of your subconscious can also change your experience in the world.

With that in mind, I want to share a life-changing experience I had a few years ago. I was at a seminar where the facilitator was discussing the inner voice and she brought up the concept of an angel voice. She described it something like, the voice that comes out to protect you from your negative thoughts, inner critic or judge.

At that moment, I remember thinking I had no idea what she was talking about and I couldn’t consciously remember feeling like there was a positive voice to balance or calm the negative ones. The truth was that I didn’t have one, at least not one I could count on when I needed to hear something positive or shift me out of my negative thought spirals. Then we did this very interesting exercise, which seemed odd and was completely out of my comfort zone. I went through my discomfort and put my skepticism aside and I’m so glad I did.

This was the exercise (as I remember and experienced it):

We got into groups of 5 with one person in the middle and the other 4 people formed a close square around that person. The person in the middle closed their eyes and remained silent throughout the exercise. 3 of the other 4 people were “negative voices” and the 4th person was the “angel voice”. I don’t remember how long it lasted in total, probably 3-5 minutes, but it started with only the 3 negative voices speaking.

That was a challenge in itself. Having a group of compassionate and empathetic people being told to say negative things to someone they don’t know is a rather interesting and confronting experience. For almost the whole class, saying negative things was harder than being in the middle and hearing them. A definite sign of how many negative things we tell ourselves each day and how conditioned we are to accept the negative things we hear.

After a period of time, probably a minute or two, the other person (the angel voice) started speaking, saying only positive things. That ended up being an incredibly powerful experience for a lot of us. For me personally, I received confirmation that I didn’t really have a positive inner voice and I immediately knew I wanted one.

When the “angel voice” started talking, I quickly realized how much better those words were to hear than the ones the other people were saying. My mind was drawn to hearing the positive words and that one voice soon drowned out the other 3, even though the other 3 were individually at least as loud, if not louder. My mind had been craving a positive voice to go with the negative ones inside my mind and now I finally understood what that would feel like.

Having that feeling sense is incredibly important and definitely speeds up the process of changing your inner voice. Even if your mind understands the concept of a positive inner voice, without feeling one inside your mind, it’s much more difficult to create an effective one for yourself. 

In my opinion, there is no one way or best way to change your inner voice, although no matter what tools you use, paying attention to your thoughts is a critical part of the process. Beyond that, play to your strengths and you may have to learn or develop some new tools to be effective. A lot of people use meditation and visualization to help, although for me at the time, I had little experience with either of them, so I didn’t use them much.

Additionally, my negative voice told me I simply wasn’t good at them. One of many negative inner thoughts that turned out to be completely false, although it would take another couple of years to gain some experience and competence with those particular skills. As a side note, if you have never meditated or had negative previous experiences with it, there are many different types and some will work much better for you than others.

I can only speak for myself and what helped me change my inner voice most. I honestly, I don’t remember the entire process or how long it lasted. A significant shift happened gradually over a year or two, though the process is ongoing. I do know that decreasing the frequency of negative thoughts came first. I think I had to make space for the positive ones to come in.

One tool that was very effective for me during this process was journaling, which I used in a couple different ways. First, I would simply write down the negative thoughts that went through my mind. Just as with keeping a nutrition journal, writing down what you eat or in this case what you think, is a great way to develop awareness. This action will also start to change your behavior.

As a side note, the morning after writing the above paragraph, my first client (without any knowledge of me writing about this) says to me, “You know, just writing things down really does change your behavior.” She was referring to a nutrition journal, but it holds true for many things. Writing things down increases our awareness and makes us take more responsibility for our thoughts and actions. It may seem like a small thing, but it yields huge results.

The other journaling thing I did was to make note of any negative thoughts that were especially triggering or highly emotionally charged and I would write about them. Exploring things like why they affected me the way they did or what messages I was sending myself and why I might be doing that. For me, this was a way to bring these things even more into my consciousness, so it became easier to identify and decrease my unhelpful negative thoughts.

Another simple, yet surprisingly effective tool was told to me by a friend and mentor at the time. She told me to use the word “period” as a way to both draw attention to and interrupt negative thoughts. This was great for me, because I used to ruminate a lot. I would commonly find myself up in the middle of the night (sometimes for 2-3 hours) cycling negative thoughts and life experiences over and over. I felt helpless to stop them until they ran their course. 

Once I realized what I was doing, I would say “period” and the negative thought train would stop, at least for a little while. Over time, the length between negative thought spirals increased and now they rarely happen and I don’t remember the last time I had to say “period” to stop them. Eventually paying attention to your thoughts becomes the default and you don’t consciously have to use the original tools much anymore. Usually only during traumatic life events or times of high stress when we more commonly revert to old unhealthy habits and patterning.

Interestingly, I don’t remember when or how it happened, but eventually I noticed that in the space where there used to be negative thoughts, positive ones were sometimes there. I don’t think I used specific tools to cultivate them or increase their frequency. I believe they were always there within me, I was just never able to let them be voiced. My negative ones were simply too abundant, too strong, and too familiar, perhaps even comfortable to me at the time.

As with pretty much everything in life, the more you practice and the more consistent you are, the better your results will be. Whether you do what I did or use your own combination of tools and strategies, you can definitely create a much nicer atmosphere within your mind. To be clear, we will always have some negative thoughts. I don’t believe it’s realistic or healthy to prevent them completely, deny, or ignore them. The goal is to find a healthy balance between the positive and negative and not let the negative thoughts overwhelm you or control your life. That I believe is absolutely attainable.

Thanksgiving Meal Science: Does Turkey Make You Tired?

When many people think of Thanksgiving, the first thing they think of is eating a lot of food and usually there is turkey involved. There are also a number of associations with the holiday, such as getting sleepy after the meal. I remember hearing lots of people talk about how eating turkey makes you sleepy, but is this really true?

This belief comes from the fact that turkey contains an ingredient called tryptophan, which can make you sleepy. However, that is far from the whole story. Tryptophan is a naturally occurring amino acid, which are the building blocks of protein and tryptophan is just one of the many amino acids that are contained in turkey. It actually makes up only about 2% of the amino acid content in turkey. For comparison, this is similar to the amount found in many other foods, including eggs, lentils, peanuts, and pork. 

Additionally, amino acids have to compete for binding sites within the body, so when there are many amino acids present, it becomes more difficult for any one amino acid to fill all the sites, especially one that only makes up about 2% of the total. Tryptophan is most effective for making you sleepy when it is taken as individually, without other amino acids (protein) being absorbed at the same time. This doesn’t happen when eating turkey.

The science is pretty clear that getting sleepy from the tryptophan in turkey is not very likely to happen, so why do so many people associate turkey with sleepiness. This has much more to do with the Thanksgiving meal itself than it does with the turkey. The main reason for getting tired after eating a Thanksgiving meal is simply the large amount of food many people eat during the meal. 

It is not uncommon for people to eat more calories during a Thanksgiving meal than their body needs in one or two whole days. The body is not designed to handle that many calories at one time and it takes a lot of work for your body to process all that food. All the unnecessary extra calories have to be converted and stored as fat.

 For these calories to be stored as fat, your body has to release a lot of insulin into your system. Your insulin level will increase drastically at first, but when your insulin level returns to normal, your energy level crashes and you get tired. If fewer calories are consumed during the Thanksgiving meal, less insulin will be released into your system, and you will not be nearly as sleepy after the meal.

Personally, I encourage people to enjoy Thanksgiving and eat what they want, without judging themselves. However, if you are worried about your weight, there are a couple things you can do to have Thanksgiving take less of a toll on your body. For one, spread out your calories throughout the day, instead of having so many of them during one meal. This will ease the digestive burden, decrease fat storage, and make you less tired. 

Even if you don’t change your Thanksgiving eating habits at all, it’s still not that big of a deal in the long run. It’s only one day and you can absolutely recover from it, usually within a week. The more important thing is to not continue excessive overeating throughout the rest of the year. If you give yourself a pass to eat whatever your want, make a commitment to yourself to get back to your regular healthy eating habits the next day. 

It’s your daily habits more than anything that create your long-term success, so enjoy the holiday and all the wonderful food this Thanksgiving. Just don’t make it a new habit, because it takes significantly more time and effort to recover from that.

A Simple Tip to Improve Your Relationships

There are numerous things we do that can sabotage virtually any chance of having healthy long-term relationships, romantic or otherwise. One of the most common and destructive ones often happens before we even meet the other person. 

We’ve all experienced moments when we notice someone for the first time and soon feel we want to get to know them better. It could be as a friend or possibly more. There is something that happens at this moment and it affects how we see and interact with that person from then on and we may not even realize it is happening.

If we are honest with ourselves, when we are emotionally drawn to someone, it’s usually because we notice something special about them and it excites us. It could have to do with their physical appearance, a skill or talent, confidence, presence, etc. Whatever those things are, they affect us. So what do we do in response?

Typically, the excitement and whatever positive feelings we experience in response to a person cause us to only see or at least highly focus on those specific aspects of the person. Perhaps the most stereotypical example would be a man who sees a stunning woman and instantly feels desire for her. That man then only really sees her as a desirable woman and may not even be able to perceive all the other wonderful qualities she has.

So often, the next step is for the object of one person’s desire, to become viewed as just that, an object. There is a dehumanization that occurs and the primary goal becomes figuring out how to get what they want (the other person). So often people pretend to be who they think the other person wants them to be, but then any relationship starts with deception and trust is much harder to build. 

This can happen between any two people, whether there is a romantic interest or not. It happens with celebrities and famous or powerful people of all types. When one person wants to have any type of relationship with another person simply because that person has or represents something they desire, the relationship is destined to be unfulfilling.

Another big thing that causes this type of dynamic to occur is when a person wants a relationship with someone because of how the other person makes them feel. This usually happens later, after some shared experiences occur. While people don’t like to admit this, if you are in a relationship with someone simply because you feel better about yourself or your life when you are with them, you are in an unhealthy, self-centered relationship. 

Of course, healthy relationships make you feel good and enhance your life, but for different reasons. Valuing someone for who they are is very different from valuing someone for how they make you feel about yourself. Simply stated, one is healthy, the other is definitely not. 

The best relationships are ones where people consider and treat each other as equals. The foundation is built on trust, mutual appreciation, and consciously working to create a relationship that is fulfilling for both people. Open and honest communication is of course critical as well.

Unfortunately, so many relationships still function from the dynamic of two people consciously or unconsciously agreeing to use each other to get their individual needs met. The relationship works as long as both people’s needs are being met, but once one person becomes unhappy or the initial excitement of the relationship fades, things soon begin to fall apart. 

So what then is a healthier alternative?

In my opinion, it’s rather simple, although can take some time and energy to put into practice. If I simplified things to a single word, it would be curiosity. 

The next time you are drawn to someone, stop and focus on your experience. Fully acknowledge your feelings and then see if you can figure out why you are feeling what you are feeling. Can you figure out what aspects of the other person are causing you to have such a positive reaction?

If so great, if not, that’s completely fine too. The important thing is to acknowledge your feelings and then put them to the side as much as possible, so they don’t cause you to fixate on whatever attracted you to that person in the first place.

The next step is to go to a place of curiosity and look to find what other positive qualities the person has. This also helps you be able to see negative qualities, which is very important too. We all have positive and negative qualities and the goal isn’t to only see the positive and ignore the negative ones.

That leads to putting the other person on a pedestal. I won’t go into this much in this article, but putting someone on a pedestal prevents healthy relationships from being possible. It creates relationship/power imbalances and makes it impossible to see the other person for who they really are. 

You will only see your idealized version of them, which most people don’t actually desire, at least not in a healthy relationship. In a deeply connected relationship, people want their positive and negative qualities to be seen and they desire to be accepted for all of who they are, not only for their positive qualities. Putting someone on a pedestal prevents this and many other healthy things from ever happening.

Stay as much as possible in a place of curiosity about the other person, as opposed to trying to be with or claim them for yourself. Being curious and really learning about the other person allows new relationships to begin more from a place of appreciation and less from a place of coveting the person or their qualities for yourself. 

In other words, avoid having an agenda when meeting new people, especially ones you are drawn to. Keep your mind as open as possible to seeing the other person exactly as they are. See and acknowledge as much as possible so you can make the best decision about whether or not you would be a good fit for each other and what type of relationship would be in each of your best interests. 

Of course, this is an ideal and no matter how much we try, our emotions will affect our judgment and how we are able to see others. In any case, making an effort to acknowledge our emotions and not completely give into them will help you begin and develop every relationship in a healthier way.

I’m Back

I used to write a lot and create videos regularly (mostly health and fitness related), but I haven’t done much in years. Some of this is due to significant life changes/turmoil/whatever you want to call it. However, I believe some of my absence also had to do with me having so many interests and passions that I haven’t been able to figure out what to focus on or how to combine them together. Particularly the worlds of health and fitness (my primary job for most of my life) and communication and relationships (the things I spend most of my time thinking about). The reality is that these areas have very similar dynamics at their cores, yet they are different fields, so there may not be an easy or smooth way to combine them. I’m going to keep working on that though.

For now, my plan is simply to start creating and sharing a random assortment of what I have learned from my years studying and working with health, fitness, communication, relationships, connection, psychology, and really anything and everything that benefits people’s lives. Because, helping people become better versions of themselves and more engaged in life is my primary passion in the world. If there is something I feel strongly about at a particular time or I find myself passing along the same information/lessons to a number of people (which has been happening a lot lately), my goal is to write or make a video about it.

Of course, I’m constantly learning too, from those around me and my own experiences in the world. My life used to be very predictable are honestly non-eventful and boring, with every year being pretty much the same as the one before (yet life also became more painful over time). Now my life resembles the stock market with so many ups and downs it’s impossible to predict what’s going to happen next. Fortunately, the trend has generally been positive, even if there have been a number of corrections and crashes along the way.

I have probably learned as much about myself and life in general over the last five years as I had learned in my first 40 years of not really being engaged in life. I have also found many unexpected inspirations in people, particularly in recent weeks, from close friends to brief interactions with people I hadn’t previously interacted with. I think these experiences have certainly influenced my decision to start creating content again and to start sharing more of my life with others.

I already have a number of topic ideas and I know exactly what I am going to write about first, because I was thinking about it a lot this morning. It’s about relationships and meeting new people and a simple shift we can make to get so much more value out of all our relationships and interactions with others. Of course, if anyone has specific questions or topics they want me to discuss, let me know in a reply or message me directly, call, or whatever. I love discussing all this stuff and plan to do so much more in the future.

New Content Update

After taking a number of years off from my blog to help raise my two kids, I am finally back to creating new content. I have written a couple articles and also made five new videos, revived my newsletter, and created a health and fitness Facebook page.

For now my new articles have only been sent to my newsletter subscribers, but I will probably post them eventually. If you would like to be added to my newsletter, please let me know. Just send me an email at ross@precisionhealth-fitness.com and I will get you added to my newsletter list.

For now, two of my videos can be seen on my website home page at www.precisionhealth-fitness.com/ and the exercise videos can be seen at www.precisionhealth-fitness.com/exercise-videos.html.

All the videos are also posted on my new Precision Health & Fitness Facebook page.

There will be much more to come in the future, but for now, please let me know if there are any topics you want me to cover in the near future. Also, I encourage everyone to visit my Facebook page and post your thoughts about anything related to health or fitness. Feedback/advice is always appreciated as well. My intent is to create an interactive community to discuss issues related to exercise, nutrition, psychology, and anything else that will help people reach their goals.

Writing Update

I have not written in a while, but my most recent writings are on Virtual Fitness Trainer (VFT). There are a number of Q&A pieces, an assortment of articles and videos covering anything related to health and fitness, and a multi-part series on core/abdominal training.

Click the following link to see all my VFT articles and videos: http://virtualfitnesstrainer.com/?s=ross+harrison

Blog Update: Future Directions

First, I want to say thank you to everyone who has been visiting my blog and giving me feedback on my posts. I appreciate the time you spend reading my information and I hope it is useful to you. I started this blog about 10½ month ago and I have been pretty happy with it so far, but things are going to change in the near future.

I am still going to write new articles, but my blog will probably not not be the first place my articles will be posted. About a month ago I started revising and updating some older blog posts and publising them to a site called Associated Content (AC). One of my future goals is to write shorter articles and this process is helping me get better at doing that. So far I have 32 articles on AC and will continue updating old posts. To see what I have done so far, please click this link. This will take you to my profile page, which has links to all my articles.

Writing for AC has caused a little decrease in time spent on my blog, but the big change is that I was recently offered the opportunity to produce new articles and videos exclusively for a health and fitness website. I would like to say more, but I am not allowed to give any specifics at this time. Since I will be spending most of my time producing content for that website, I will be writing less on my blog, but I will still try to produce occasional new content here. However, the blog content will still appear on Associated Content first, because that increases the distribution options and allows me to reach more people.

At this point I am not sure exactly what the direction is going to be for my blog, but I am always willing to answer any health or fitness questions you have and I am definitely interested in hearing about topics you would like me to cover in the future. If you ask me a question or suggest a topic for me to write about, I will make sure to respond. If you have any questions or topic suggestions, please email me directly at ross@precisionhealth-fitness.com.