The Vulture and the Hummingbird

This past weekend was one of the most emotionally taxing set of days I’ve experienced in quite some time. It was a perfect storm of busyness, stress, mom guilt, and PMS. The emotional rollercoaster I embarked on over the period from Friday through Sunday evening  took me through the highs of a wonderful kiddie birthday party celebration on Saturday, to really low lows on Sunday, with lots of work procrastination, moping, sleeping, tears, and no hurried movement whatsoever. I ate respectfully during this period except on Sunday, when I had a diet Coke brownie and some ice cream. I had planned for some ice cream, but ended up eating twice as much as I had planned. The brownie was thrown in for good measure, also without planning. What kept me from doing more damage was having an all-out, mental wrestling match. (The amount of sleep hours I logged also meant less conscious time grappling with this issue; it is what it is.)

I’m sure a good deal of this incredibly rough experience was hormonal, but I read a book on Sunday that gave me insight into how I can try to help my situation by influencing my thoughts. In Soul Detox, by Craig Groeschel, he encourages us to consider the vulture and the hummingbird when trying to steer our thoughts in more positive directions.

The vulture circles the desert floor, looking for dying animals and rotten flesh to feast on. The hummingbird zips about, looking to extract nectar from beautiful, sweet-smelling flowers. Groeschel compared this to the diet of thoughts we feed ourselves–do we want to focus on putrid, negative thoughts about ourselves and others, or sweet, nurturing ones? Do we want to look for the worst in everything and rejoice when we find it, bingeing on anger, bitterness and fear until we can get our next fix, or do we want to train ourselves to look for the flowers, actually stop and smell the roses, and even get a little psychic nourishment in the process?

I read this at the end of the day on Sunday, and I wished I had read it sooner. The imagery I envisioned when I thought about this was incredibly helpful in giving me a new spin on my thought patterns. I can conjure up an image of a cute, driven hummingbird to remind myself to keep moving toward what’s going to feed my mind and spirit most favorably. When I find my thoughts going dark, I can remember that I’m loading up on thoughts that truly have no life in them, and certainly no pleasant aftertaste.

I have heard people say that visualization is helpful in making life changes. It’s not a strategy that I’ve explored heavily before, but this exercise convinces me that calling up images like the vulture or the hummingbird offer helpful mental shorthand for making myself aware of thoughts I need to change, before I work myself up to a point where unhealthy eating seems like a viable solution to my woes.

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