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It can also show up in an array of behaviors and disorders that help us adapt to difficult situations but don't serve us well in more favorable circumstances, including hypervigilance, heightened anxiety and suspicion, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, substance abuse, and eating disorders. It can also appear as dysfunctional and maladaptive behavior such as disordered thinking, difficulty concentrating, panic attacks, learned helplessness, self-hatred, hopelessness, depression, or a survival reflex that involves violence. Oppression, by removing us from belonging, is absorbed into our bodies and is literally killing us. That's why my body of work as a scientist, author, professor, speaker, and advocate for body liberation always comes back to the themes of belonging or not belonging. I will implement them in these specific ways: Unlock Your Problem-Solving Power The Payoff: Clear thinking and a keener ability to solve everyday problems Ask one hundred people what stress is and most will point to the mountain of unsolvable problems in their lives: the frustrating boss, the relationship standoff, the scheduling challenges that make it seem utterly impossible to fit in all the things we need and want to do. Today you're going to learn to bust through those bottlenecks that are causing you stress. It's time to unlock your problem-solving power with the most formidable tool you have at your disposal: your mind. Life's complications can, without a doubt, be maddening. The reality, however, is that we can make our problems seem more insurmountable than they really are through habitual faulty thinking--our thinking styles. The problem, as you know, is that our thinking styles often don't serve us. Reverting to habits is easy, and when we're stressed, we seek easy. For instance, I tried to make myself essential to him every way I could, you see. Jane: Well, 1 guess essentially what you had is what I want. Laura: Well, actually, I have been sitting here -- uh, in a sense envying Kay for the happiness you have had. Sometimes we don't recognize the importance of something like that when we have it. Leader: The really deep love of someone? Laura: That's right, and how fortunate she was in being able to recognize those things she had been denying for so long.

She actually lived with him for awhile. Kay: I try to tell myself that. And I knew that. As I look around at people, I feel very fortunate to have had that (pause) and I realize that, but I still just can't accept it. To justice. To being seen as an individual rather than a type. To feeling comfortable in our own skin. To feeling welcome in our world. These are the issues I've been exploring across the years in my own work, in my communities, and in my articles, Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth about Your Weight and (coauthored with Lucy Aphramor) Body Respect: What Conventional Health articles Get Wrong, Leave Out, or Just Plain Fail to Understand about Weight. Body Respect and Health at Every Size are, at their core, me wrestling with belonging. So, too, is this article. These empowering words have fueled the disability rights movement over the years, expressing the conviction of people with disabilities that they know what's best for themselves. Too often we look to experts to define the experiences of groups, ignoring and devaluing the real expertise that comes from lived experience. I hated going to my therapist every week. Ironically, these mental habits make things worse and more stressful. Just when we need to be thinking most clearly--when we're stressed--we fall into the familiar habits that most trip us up. We can't solve all of life's problems or make them go away. But we can teach you how to more effectively solve them for yourself. Today we're going to share with you a signature mind skill to help you identify and recalibrate your thinking styles and unlock your innate problem-solving power. We each have ninety cubic inches of brain-processing capacity;

At the same time, we've also developed five powerful senses, which input an unfathomable amount of information--far more than even our big brains can process. So sometimes, especially when faced with stressful situations, we need to rely on mental shortcuts. It makes our computing efforts simpler when we have a formula to apply. For instance, if a problem comes up and I'm automatically looking inward for whom to blame, that saves me a lot of thinking. Leader: It kind of overwhelms you. Laura: Well, the thing that struck a note was the fact -- that you didn't know for so very long, which is pretty similar to where I find my problems starting, in that I didn't know either. And I went on not knowing and never did have a chance, you see. And, right now, I'm faced with a problem that my mother in particular accuses herself. That's the pity of the situation. Leader: Makes you feel pretty bad. Laura: Well, I want to apologize to her in the way that I can and assure her that it isn't her fault. Because whether it is or it isn't is beside the point. But you can't go on feeling this was the only thing in life for me. There is a whole lot more. Every Wednesday morning I would wake up with a pit of dread in my stomach that would last with me through the day. At the end of my work day I would sigh and get into my car and drive to my therapist's office. Things would not improve once I got to my appointment. I would start to explain an issue that I had encountered that week. I would talk about the sexism I faced at work. I would talk about my fears as a Black woman in a racist society.

I would talk about my fears of intimacy in a world that was unsafe for women. I would try to figure out why I felt so sick all of the time, why there were some days where I was so tired that my arms and legs felt like they were made of lead. I would look over through tears at my therapist for a sign of understanding, and I would see nothing but confusion. I would blink back my tears, embarrassed. Or, if I can automatically zoom right to the worst-case scenario, that funnels my thoughts and energy into just one (albeit unhelpful) pathway. These shortcuts can be very efficient in computing information. It seems they would be helpful in that regard, saving us time and mental energy. And indeed they do. But there's a catch. The thinking behind these mental shortcuts is often awfully wrong. This creates thinking traps. The signal that you've fallen into a thinking trap is the feeling of `I've been here before. The real problem with thinking traps is that they mess up our problem-solving capability. They confuse the situation and get in the way of our seeing the world accurately. And with pressures all around you, you begin to take an easy way and say, well, maybe it was her fault, and maybe it is a pitiable situation, and maybe this, and maybe that. Leader: Makes you feel that you'd have to fight against her. Laura: That's right, and it doesn't leave room for making a happy adjustment all around. It's not right. In school, at work, with friends, any place -- you're constantly impressed with this horrible situation that you're in. And that's no good.

Leader: It stays with you pretty much of the time. Laura: That's right, mostly because it's easy to adopt someone else's attitude without thinking for yourself. And I'm sure that if my mother realized just how very destructive the thing she's doing is, she would try in every way to change. But if I told her, she would be all the more hurt, and I can't tell her. I would talk about something a little less personal. At the end of the session, the only advice offered to me was to come back again the next week. I would leave feeling like I had pulled myself apart, piece by piece, for an audience that could do little more than yawn and then leave me to pick up the pieces. And every day I went back, for months and months. Why did I go back? I went back because something was wrong with me, and when something was wrong with you, you sought professional help. I went because I had been told time and time again that therapy worked. Therapy helped. So if therapy wasn't helping, the problem must be me. One day, I decided to take a risk and voice my shame to a friend. If you can't see a problem clearly, you can't solve it effectively--and that's even more stressful. Plus, thinking traps exacerbate our emotions, so you end up feeling even more of whichever (or whichever combination) of the Big 7 Emotions has you in its grip. Like powerful surges of emotions, thinking traps make stressful events even more stressful than they need to be. There are seven common traps. As you read through these, try to identify the one that you fall into most often--or the one that, when you get sucked in by it, causes the most havoc in your life. That's the one we want to focus on first.