BeautyMeg's Monthly MessageMotivational

Avoid This And Stay Emotionally Fit

By March 2, 2018 12 Comments
Meg's Monthly Message, March 2018

I saw the most beautiful woman as I was shopping at Costco recently. She was shorter, maybe between 5’3’’ and 5’5’’ and had brown hair which was cut into a shaggy bob that framed her super cute face. She wore minimal makeup, enough to enhance every perfect feature. I told her how beautiful she was and she smiled, which, if it were possible, made her look even prettier.

I assumed she was into fitness because she was wearing black exercise capris, yellow tennis shoes, and a lightweight black jacket that hung loosely around her shoulders. Her skin-tight shirt underneath was thin and almost revealed what looked like 6-pack abs. The contents of her shopping basket only added to what seemed to be a very real interest in health. She had organic lettuce, organic carrots, vitamins, and some sort of healthy granola cereal.

We parted ways, but only for a few minutes. Our paths crossed again in the dairy corner where she was loading skim milk into her cart. I told her (again) how pretty I thought she was, which might seem like overkill, but I try to say compliments as I think them and she just had a way of making me think them!

My husband and I finished shopping and made our way to the check-out area where we found the shortest line we could. The beautiful fitness girl was done shopping also and got in line right behind us. This time she was talking on her cell phone to someone so I didn’t tell her (again) any of the compliments that came to my mind (like her cute shoes…adorable hair…beautiful smile…)

Instead I sat still while we waited to check out. In the pause, I overheard some of her conversation with whoever was on the other end of the line.

“Go ahead,” she coaxed. “Just do it. You’ll feel so much better.”

The language was intriguing. What should the person on the end of the line do???

“Tell me all about it.” She continued. “You deserve a release, don’t hold in your thoughts. So what if they’re not perfectly positive, at least you’ll get them out, right? You’ll feel so much better…”

I suddenly realized that the beautiful fitness girl was encouraging the person on the other end of the line to complain about something. I stopped listening and focused on loading my groceries onto the checkout counter, but I kept hearing her say things like “venting is healthy…venting is good for you…go ahead and vent…” and similar things a few more times.

And suddenly this beautiful fitness girl wasn’t quite so beautiful.

I remembered a time from when I was a 6-year-old kid. We’d just moved to Idaho and were picking my Grandmother up from the airport. It was Christmastime and I was eating out of a big bag of holiday M&Ms. When my grandmother was situated in the car and we began driving home, I offered her some. I remember her smiling, she had the biggest smile, and chuckling as she shook her head and waved away my outstretched handful of candies. I remember it clearly and can still hear her old-lady-from-Texas voice, “No, darlin’. If I start eating those, I just don’t know when to stop.”

I think “venting” is the M&M of language. I think venting, or, more accurately stated, complaining, might feel like a sweet release, but once we get a taste for it, it is difficult to stop.

I have heard people defend venting – vehemently – saying it is better to verbally purge so we don’t keep those feelings trapped inside. However, even though this argument might seem right, it is very wrong and venters/complainers experience the opposite effect they were seeking.

Instead of releasing bad feelings by complaining, the brain actually rewires itself to make complaining easier and easier. Steven Parton explains how this happens:

“Throughout your brain there is a collection of synapses separated by empty space called the synaptic cleft. Whenever you have a thought, one synapse shoots a chemical across the cleft to another synapse, thus building a bridge over which an electric signal can cross, carrying along its charge the relevant information you’re thinking about. It’s very similar to how nerves carry electric from the sensation in your toe all the way up to your brain where it’s actually “felt”.  Here’s the kicker: Every time this electrical charge is triggered, the synapses grow closer together in order to decrease the distance the electrical charge has to cross. The brain is rewiring its own circuitry, physically changing itself, to make it easier and more likely that the proper synapses will share the chemical link and thus spark together–in essence, making it easier for the thought to trigger.” (http://psychpedia.blogspot.com.cy/2015/11/the-science-of-happiness-why.html)

Just like eating M&Ms makes eating more M&Ms easier, venting makes more venting easier. Once you begin to complain, your brain begins to rewire itself to make complaining the easiest, quickest, and most common response for you. It is important here to note that this is the same brain reaction for positivity. When we choose to react with gratitude, love, and positivity our brain makes those connections be the fastest.

But when we don’t choose gratitude, love, and positivity and instead reach for a handful of emotional M&Ms our physical (and not just our emotional) health suffers. Steven Parton says “When your brain is firing off these synapses of anger, you’re weakening your immune system; you’re raising your blood pressure, increasing your risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes, and a plethora of other negative ailments.”

Additionally, when someone binges on the M&Ms of language, they can’t help but offer it to those who are willing to listen. Our brain tries to imitate the behaviors we observe, which is fun when we share excitement during birthdays or concerts, but not so fun when we are observing someone who is venting. They might be the ones chowing down on emotional M&Ms, but just LISTENING is emotionally unhealthy.

The beautiful fitness girl seemed to have a good grasp on the elements needed to stay healthy…except inside the pocket of her workout clothes she seemed to have an oversize bag of emotional M&Ms that she was offering to her friend over the phone.

There are A LOT of things we can complain about in this life – no, in this DAY. Emotional M&Ms surround us. You’ll find them lying on the floor next to the socks your kids didn’t pick up (again). You’ll see them in the parking lot on top of every car that’s in your spot. They’re sold by the pound on Mondays at work and by 10-pound bags by your coworkers who call in sick. We tend to keep a little handful in our pocket at church and school juuuuust in case we get munchy…

And no matter how healthy, how fit, how many 6-pack abs, or how organic your carrots are, when we choose to eat those vent-filled M&Ms we find ourselves emotionally obese.

This month I am celebrating 14 years of being in a wheelchair. It seems like just yesterday I was walking and dancing and using chopsticks and yet, on the other paralyzed hand, it seems like a lifetime ago. I am not any kind of guru or master and I don’t claim any special knowledge, but I do know one thing. And what I know is that a handful of melt-in-your-mouth M&Ms (the real kind) don’t weigh me down nearly as fast or as much as just fifteen seconds of binge eating the emotional M&Ms by complaining.

By choosing to chuckle, smile, and wave away the emotional M&Ms we’re offered throughout the day, we discover a new level of health that isn’t offered by any gym, plastic surgeon, or even Costco. When we choose healthier language by expressing love and gratitude we are free from the weight of negativity that venting offers and we are truly emotionally fit.

Keep on Rollin’ (with gratitude, love, and positivity!),

Meg

Header Picture “83/365” on Amy Loves Yah Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

Join the discussion 12 Comments

  • What a great article and so true. Thanks for sharing. I am not much into social media, but I will love sharing this article.

  • Marsha Cook says:

    Meg–thank you for sharing your always uplifting life lessons. They always touch my heart and seem to come when I need them most. I keep wondering if you are stalking me and sending messages you know I need! LOL! Thank you again.

  • Suzanne Hunt says:

    I have been struggling with some really hard personalities at work. I have been finding myself confiding and yes venting about this situation a lot. So, today when your message came up, I was completely schooled on what venting is and does. I am grateful for a Heavenly Father that sees my needs and finds ways to show me the better way. While I could have taken that message and gone the other direction and taken offense, I have chosen to look closely at it and work my way back to a healthier me. We find the easiest path on do many occasions and they are not always best for us. Thank you for being you and sharing what you have learned through your experiences! How blessed I am for being in the place I was with a dear friend who was on her pancreatic cancer journey and we met you at the when life gets hard gathering in st george. I appreciate you for your faithfulness and light! While life is hard, it’s so much more and we can do much more with the Savior and each other!

  • Alicia Lee says:

    This is a WONDERFUL message you shared! It is so needed as I feel it is so true. Thank you for being such a beautiful, gifted daughter of God and sharing your light with others!

  • tim c says:

    Just confirms how the fairer sex initially tends to be physically objectified….. by both genders….. and truthfully, that’s OK. You tell it like it is Meg.

  • Tina says:

    This post actually makes me a little sad. I feel sad for the woman in the story, a stranger, to be judged by only one side of a phone conversation you could hear. Your points are all valid, but I think it unfair to make this woman an example for all to judge. I say this because I have been on the flip side. I was out to dinner with two friends. One of my friend was going through a painful divorce. Her husband left her for another woman in the neighborhood and had gone around to homes of their friends to tell his side of the story. He villanized her in his portrayal. The other friend was empathizing by sharing her heartbreak of her husband who after years of marriage admitted being addicted to pornography–since before their marriage. A stranger came to our table and shamed us for gossiping. It was so unfair and painful. I ran after him to explain, for him to understand, the weight and pain these woman were carrying. Instead he glared at me and said, “But you were still gossiping.”

    I think this story of yours could have been so much more effective if you shared your personal experiences instead of judging a stranger. You don’t know what was happening on the other end of the phone. A mother could be grieving over a child. There could be unemployment. There is sorrow. And to just swallow it can be very unhealthy. Often, we need the help of a friend to process what our emotions are telling us. To understand why we are feeling what we are. Then, to move forward with courage to face our inadequacies.

    I admire you, Meg. I admire your optimism and I will take your message to heart. We do need to beware of murmuring. But, we also need to refrain from judging strangers. We need to be kind because people are fighting battles we know nothing about.

  • Dana says:

    What a FANTASTIC message this is! I love how you bring out that we can shorten those synapse distances by doing Good Things, too! They taught us this about practicing when I was getting a degree in Piano at USU, and I’ve always known it applies to all areas – but I can’t say it like you can! YOU must have like, no space between your synapses where they do things like offer comfort, give compliments, build people up, see the positive side, etc. WOW! What a brain you must have!!!

  • Meg I just love ya. What an example and friend you are. You sure have helped me look at my MS differently. I had to laugh when you were talking about all the wiring in the Brain, cause I know all about what you are talking about. I can’t build up my immune system I have to kill mine with meds. So with the damage sometimes I fall or say funny things. I’ve learned to laugh at it and myself and my two little girls do the same, we make it fun and silly.
    My girls and I hang on to your every word and I’ve got to tell you that one of them was quick smiling as we’re driving into town the other day cuz that’s what Meg does! They also refer to Meg as the real Wonder Woman so thank you for all you do. Love to you and your family.
    Love,
    Heidi
    PS
    I’m going to do the MS BIKE RIDE, this year. It’s up here in Cache Valley June 23

  • Regina Sherwood says:

    Thank you for your timely vitamins;-)

  • Just a Person says:

    This is intriguing, but in a recent Facebook live post you mention purging your thoughts into a so-called garbage can. You do this by writing in your journal. I assume by saying you purge, you talk about the good things and the bad. As humans we all have a myriad of feelings. Sometimes it is healthy to get all of our feelings out, just like you do in your journal, so we can all live clean and happy lives. It can be very healthy to express your feelings (whether they are happy or sad or mad) to someone whom you trust. I think this girl in Costco was being a good friend by letting the other person on the phone know that he or she has a place to express his or her feelings. We should be able to recognize our feelings and acknowledge they exist, whether they are pleasant or unpleasant. It’s not healthy to suppress any feelings. All of us need an outlet to express them. I don’t think the girl in Costco was saying that we should complain all of the time, but rather we often need the support of others to help us through some of the challenging feelings we all experience in this life. We all purge, whether to a friend, family member, our Heavenly Father, or even in a journal. Just some food for thought.

  • Toni Smedley says:

    Hi Meg – usually I read your great messages- smile, agree, learn and don’t tell you that I love your messages. Well, today I say – Thanks so much for all of your messages and great insights. I love to share them with the teens in my life. You are a great example to all. Love, Aunt Toni

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