Overcoming Nancy Thomas

Who?  I’ll save you the trouble of Googling Nancy Thomas. You won’t find her on the internet (well, at least not the Nancy Thomas I am referring to).  Nancy Thomas is the name that my husband and I made up to describe that attitude that presents itself when you have the perfect combination of unfounded negativity and skepticism that anything good will happen.  It’s a combination of being a “Negative Nancy” and a “Doubting Thomas”.  Nancy Thomas.

Do you know how to recognize when your Nancy Thomas rears her head? For me, it usually manifests in an internal litany about how hard I work, and I have so much to do, how I never get to do what I want, and the weight of the world is on me, and burden this, unfair that, blah blah blah.  I can feel my body tense and my mind close. Nancy Thomas can make me feel like I’m a hamster running on wheel that is immersed in mud. Basically, exhausted.

Why am I even telling you about this?  What does this have to do with wellness or nutrition or food or any of it.

Well, I think Nancy Thomas has EVERYTHING to do with your wellbeing.  You see, I am of the belief that how you feel and how you think is the foundation that sets the tone for all of your behaviors, values, beliefs, inspirations, motivations, and perceptions about your capacity to live well, eat well, be well, etc.   Nancy Thomas can be the sabotuer who derails momentum you are gaining on making a lifestyle change. Nancy Thomas is the voice that says “no, you can’t” when you want to try something new. Nancy Thomas is a total downer.  If you let her, she’ll keep you running in circles chasing your desire for peace forever.

But wait, before you get totally bummed out by this post, I have good news. You can keep  Nancy Thomas in her place if you learn to listen to the signs that she has arrived and understand what she needs. Really, all Nancy Thomas wants is to be heard.  She represents some unspoken but strongly felt emotion in you that, if left unattended, will go on a destructive rampage in your mind.

Nancy Thomas is a lot like my toddler in the midst of one of his toddler-terrorist fits.  He’s demanding, nothing will satisfy him, he says no to anything that is offered, and he’s completely irrational.  He gets locked into a fixed mindset that the only option it to stand there and cry relentelessly. There are 2 way that I can successfully deal with him and neither has to do with facing his tantrum head on. That only makes it worse.   My options are to  avoid feeding into the drama by distracting him and just moving on, or finding a way to soothe him without him realizing what is happening.  It’s the same for Nancy Thomas- you can’t yell her away or scold her into shrinking.  You can’t punish a force that is by nature, already self- punitive. The solution is found in recognizing when you are having a Nancy Thomas moment before she takes over and figuring out what the unmet need is so you can fill it. You have to nip Nancy in the bud.

I had a Nancy Thomas moment today, and my toddler had a tantrum, so I spent a fair amount of my evening dealing with this kind of thing. So I guess you could say, I am kind of an expert, at least tonight.   Here is what I learned: we both wanted and needed the same thing. We were utterly exhausted and needed to be soothed but were resisting like crazy. For him, he simply needed to be held and rocked and put to bed early.  Done.

For me, I was deeply frustrated that I’d missed a chance to go to a yoga class at an actual yoga studio with legit yoga teachers and a really cool vibe, for the first time in over 2 years because I forgot my yoga clothes.  Damn it all!! If you could have only heard the dialogue in my head when I pulled up to the studio and discovered an empty back seat. let’s just say, there was nothing yogic about my reaction. So Nancy Thomas and her “badditude” accompanied me all the way home. Nancy Thomas cast a dark shadow on what had actually been a pretty amazing day, but I couldn’t see that once I was triggered. I could have easily stayed caught up in that negative thought pattern, which for me, is often followed by self-berratement and internal flogging for letting myself get so worked up. My, my, what a superb waste of mental energy.

But, here’s the cool part. I am very familiar with Nancy Thomas. I know that she can swoop in and ruin my whole night if I let her.  I also know that she’s basically a toddler, so I did something that we teach kids to do all the time.  I checked in with myself to see what I needed. I found my words.  I needed to relax.  I needed a time out.  So, I took ownership of my needs and told (not asked) my hubby  to keep an eye on Callum while mommy deployed some critical self care tactics. Then, I took a bath – a long, warm, luxurious bath that included time to read a book and time to lay still with my body immersed in deliciously oil-infused water without a single interruption.  And viola, just like that, Nancy Thomas was gone.