When I was a junior in college I had what I consider to be an emotional meltdown. It was one of those years where things snowballed from bad to worse, largely due to my own thinking. I binge ate candy bars, was in therapy facing a lot of old demons, and burned down all of my previously held beliefs and values. Thankfully this period of my life later allowed me to grasp many revelations which later allowed me to discover my purpose.

But during that junior year, there was not much good to be found. I was miserable.

After classes, I remember walking home to my dorm room (I was a RA, resident advisor) thinking about all the horrible things I said, how much everyone in class must hate me, and what a lousy woman I was. I dwelled on my lumpy thighs which previously were in fantastic shape months earlier. I counted every calorie I ate in the cafeteria.

By the end of the night I would be so calorically and emotionally bankrupt that I would binge eat before bed. There was a period of time where I couldn’t sleep in my room if there was chocolate.

I had to eat it that night.

“Starting Tomorrow I will stop eating chocolate for a month and be skinny.”

It was always about what I was going to do perfectly “Starting Tomorrow.”

But more than overeating, over-thinking really made my life a living hell.

I had an inner monologue that Would Not Stop. It was a mean voice that was critical of everything I did, said, or felt.

And for a long time, I believed the thoughts this voice told me. I allowed myself to recognize these thoughts as harsh, but true.

However, ever so slowly I began to rediscover my spirituality as an adult. Around this time I also started to question the catty chatter inside my mind.

And one day while standing in my dorm room, I noticed another ego rant amping up inside my mind.

Instead of listening to my ego spouting off all of my shortcomings, I decided to give that negative self-talk a name. I called it “smurgging.”

Why smurgging? I don’t really know, perhaps because the word sounds negative, petty, and ultimately untrue. Just like the crappy thoughts I heard in my head.

Then, every time I began to hear those gross, lingering doubts and fears, I just labeled those thoughts what they really were: smurgging.

Over time, the ability to label the negative thought process left the thoughts themselves weaker, less real. I started to recognize that they were not necessarily facts, but negative beliefs that could be stopped, or at least mostly ignored.

And as they became less important in my life, they stopped popping up quite as much. Which allowed me the space to let in good, positive things that helped me grow.

Just like our homes, sometimes we gotta take out the trash that accumulates in our minds.

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Joelle

    I really needed this today, thanks. I think we all have negative thoughts sometimes {I know I do all the time}, but I never thought to label them in the way that you did. It’s such a great technique, and one that I think I will definitely start trying to use in the future.

    Thank you {again} for a great post!


  2. k.

    Thanks for posting this. I’m coming back from my own emotional breakdown and have found labeling a really useful and empowering tool. As soon as I’m able to label negative feelings and thoughts they become less powerful, I’m able to step back and see them for what they are (smurgging!), let go and move on.

  3. SJM

    You’re right on about taking out the trash. I just finished a post myself that took on that idea of irrational thinking. We take in so much information about achieving goals and perfecting our lives that we have these crazy expectations… it’s very easy to lose sight of the fact that what we’re doing and how we look right now is just fine, even if we’re on the path to something greater.

    It’s a shame that college gets weighed down with so much weighty thinking, but like you said those breakdowns are sometimes necessary. It helps us identify thought patterns that can’t survive, ultimately leading us to what will work for us in our own lives. Rock on!

  4. Maggie Rose

    What is it about junior year of college?! I had a very similar experience fall semester of junior year. I eventually moved on but I love that you learned to name your nasty thoughts – I had a similar revelation several years later when working with Michelle and she called them “Vampires”. Being able to categorize my worries/fears into “legitimate concerns that I can handle and address” and “negative energy vampires that do me no favors” helps me focus on what needs to be done.

  5. Lisa

    I went through the same thing — junior year was the worst! But I am glad I had that breakdown because now I recognize when I’m standing in my own way. I like the idea of taking out the trash that accumulates in our minds.

  6. Sydney

    love this! I have heard of giving your ego a name before and this is a wicked idea! Thanks for sharing, this was, naturally, exactly what I needed to hear today

  7. bethany

    YES. I was thinking that same thought right as I read your last line. Such good, honest advice, Jess.

  8. Kelly

    Thank you so much for this post! I could relate to it so much. I had a horrible sophomore year of college that contained my first break-up, massive roommate issues, way too many credit hours, and the loss of my biggest mentor and favorite professor. I didn’t allow myself to take a break that summer, taking classes and working, and went into a junior year in which I was an RA and had issues taking care of myself well nutritionally. I too have learned to ignore my negative thoughts, though definitely not as well as it seems you have. I love the idea of naming the ugly thoughts that crop up with an ugly name – I am definitely going to use the term “smurgging” in the future! Again, thank you so much for this post!! : )

  9. Ashley Wright

    “I had an inner monologue that Would Not Stop. It was a mean voice that was critical of everything I did, said, or felt.”

    This has kept me from so much in my life… and has kept me struggling with weight all my life as well. It has also kept me from taking the ‘leap’ into what I was meant to do, what I felt in my gut I needed and wanted to do.

    I’ve been following you for awhile with Jess LC and now your new venture. You are INSPIRING! And motivating!

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