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  • Writer's pictureDr. Jonathan Hoffman

Your Mind Is a Diner: Today’s Blue Plate Special, Anxiety

Updated: Jul 28, 2022

Think of your mind being like a diner but serving a wide and diverse array of thoughts instead of food. A diner has lots of healthy and unhealthy items to choose from, as does a mind. Unlike a real-life diner, however, a mind-diner has only one patron--you. And you’re stuck eating there... for life. Not only that, you don’t get to write the menu, just make the choices.

So, you might as well be diner savvy. For example, in the diners I’ve been to, it’s a sure fire red flag if they’re pushing the Blue Plate Special. I’ve learned the hard way, do not order it under any circumstances!

Analogously, if your mind is talking up anxiety, like many are these days, don’t say, “I’ll have that” too fast. You should know there’s a good chance you’re going to suffer from indigestion, albeit of a different sort.

So, take your sweet time. Peruse the other items on your mind’s menu thoroughly. “Oh, I didn’t notice at first, but they have ‘taking a brisk walk.’ That will be a lot healthier than the ‘working myself into a panic.’ Exactly.

“Likewise, the ‘spending some time catching up with an old friend’ sounds so much more constructive than compulsively sanitizing my home and taking my temperature over and over.” You’re so right.

“Even Netflix would be a healthier choice than the ‘falling down the what-iffing worry rabbit hole’ entrée.” Correct again.

Now, stick to your decision! How many people start to order something healthy in a diner but impulsively switch their order to an unhealthy dish at the last second? In my experience, many. Anxiety can be like comfort food in that it’s familiar and the path of least resistance. Unfortunately, also like comfort food, anxiety is ‘a minute on the lips, much longer on your hips.’

Is it really so easy to simply not order anxiety? No, it’s as hard as selecting the salad when you really crave the bottomless chili and cheese bowl. Believe me, I know!

But it’s not impossible either. It will take planning and hard work but is well worth it. Anxiety is nothing if not ‘empty calories.’

Diners are what they are, just like minds. If there aren’t some obviously unhealthy options on their menu, it’s probably not an authentic diner. They must figure, somebody’s going to order it. Just make sure it isn’t you.

Making healthy choices depends a lot upon how well you can utilize your most important ‘inside voice,’ the one in your mind. This is especially true when your thoughts seem to be leading you in the wrong direction, as happens to everybody at one time or another.

“My actions are under my control, even if my thoughts are not” is just one example of helpful self-talk you can put into effect. Try it, it can make a bigger difference in making healthy decisions than you might expect.

One advantage of the diner of your mind is that it’s ‘all you can eat.’ Therefore, you’re going to get a lot of opportunities to practice self-talk and in making healthy choices.

Best of all, in this eatery you never have to say, “Check, please.”

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