Recently, as I began to speak to someone about all of the dieting/eating plans I have tried throughout my life, I realized something that they all had in common, that I was hoping they would be the external source to solve my “weight issues.” I began to think on this a little bit more and how different what I am doing now is. I am not saying that some of these plans didn’t have aspects that asked me to dig deeper and find answers or new things about myself. The difference can be found in the following analogy:
Diet Plan Brain: I am standing at the shore of a deep river. My goal is to get across the river, but I do not know how. I see a boat. Someone tells me to get into the boat and the how to get across. The promise is that the boat trip might be challenging at times, but it will most certainly get me across. My message is to get in the boat and stay in the boat. The result? I may get across the water for a little while, and end up back on the shore, I may get half way across and fall into the river, or I might find myself farther away from the river crossing then I was before. I might even get across to the shore, but live in fear of finding myself back on the other shoreline. Therefore, I have that boat or several boats lined up to get into if that should ever happen. I am almost always on a search for the right boat, “My solution.”
My mentality of finding a peaceful intuitive relationship with myself and food now: First, my goal is reframed. I do not have to get across the river. I must first survey all of my options with a purposeful mindful outlook. I take in the scenery. Are there birds here at the river? What color is the water? What is so great about the other side of the river anyways? If I do want to get to the other side of the river I would like to take some time to learn about the situation and about my strengths and weaknesses to get across. I may even find myself swimming in the cool waters of the river and find myself unexpectedly on the opposite shoreline. Ultimately, it becomes more about realizing it is about the actually process of crossing the river and not the single pointed focus of reaching the other side that counts. There may be many mini river crossings in a day or a week, but those are just mini opportunities to take a breath and see what I really want. What I really need.
What is different about these two situations? In the first scenario. I am completely missing the sound of the birds and the cool feeling of the water. I am probably anxious in situation #1 and I am always living in fear of finding myself back on the same shore line. In this situation, my accomplishments are wrapped up in how good the boat is and if I reach the other side or not.
In situation # 2, I have fully lived and embraced the experience of the river. I have evaluated my own abilities and allowed the experience to be as much about learning how to cross the river as it is about crossing the river. I have allowed myself to ask questions. Most importantly, my doing these actions, I have found myself in the place I was meant to be. It is about the discovering and learning in this situation that is so important. I have learned that I can rely on myself. I have also eliminated the constant fear of finding myself back on the shore, because a.) I have realized there are beautiful things to be seen over here, and b.) it is all just part of the same process or relationship with the river. Beautiful I will take scenario # 2.
Sometimes, while I am floating in the cool river water, I still get a little nervous and think, ‘maybe I SHOULD look for a boat”,” but then I remember my real goal is to understand this river and myself and our relationship and I begin to relax letting the water support me.
Waking up to the intuition within myself is something I read about for years and envied when people said they were able to listen really listen to their own internal wisdom surrounding food, body image, and exercise. I could use this intuition in other settings or situations so I knew it was there waiting for me, I just did not know how to access it, or I would see tiny moments of access only to be filled by returning to the fear of letting go and trusting.
When I say intuition, I am not talking about some far off land or fortune-telling. I am very simply talking about the ability to quiet the mind and listen to what we need in a particular moment. To be able to listen to this voice, thank it for showing us, and honoring it by making a choice.
During meditation I learned how to notice a thought and not try to change it, but just observe it. This probably has been one of the single most life changing skills I could have found. The messages we receive on a daily basis are immeasurable. From the media to friends and family and even what we tell ourselves. Isn’t it nice to be able to slow down and just notice them?
I am still practicing every day how to listen and trust my internal self around food and body issues. It is not easy and I have many years of other messages coming in. Although, now my attitude to even those messages is often different. I stop, realize I am thinking them and allow them to tell me what they have to say, then proceed forward. Am I always able to do this 100%, no. But perfection is also no longer a goal either.
This sounds like a lot of work? It can be a lot of work to slow down and take time for self-care. It also can be difficult at times to face the painful feelings. But in the end, decreasing avoidance has brought me significant authentic joy. I realize I was at a constant battle before. Constantly battling can be exhausting and take its toll on the body. I am so thankful for the opportunity I have to learn about myself and my needs. I will read this post if I find myself forgetting or losing my way. I will also return within and honor my intuition and most importantly trust the process.