Saturday, March 22, 2008

Worrier or Warrior?

As the emotional eating expert, I often ask my clients "What do you love to do? What are you passionate about? When was the last time you became totally immersed in an activity?" Many of us spend our days simply, mindlessly making it through to the next day and then to the day after that. Then we ask ourselves if this is what life is supposed to be like. Is this really all there is to it? Is the hokey pokey really what it’s all about? If that is so then anesthetizing ourselves with sugars and carbohydrates certainly makes sense.

We create our lives. You have most likely heard this many times in the past but perhaps you lost that thought amid the bombardment of every day concerns. What would it mean to you to create your life? When would you begin and how would you proceed? When was the last time you sat in stillness to think about this? Have you ever taken the quiet, reflective time necessary to come to truly know yourself?

If we don’t spend the time and effort to go within, we end up living as robots performing the tasks that we imagine we are supposed to perform. Life can feel empty and meaningless and we self-soothe our discontented, unfulfilled feelings with substances – food, drugs, alcohol, etc. Perhaps there are more efficient and meaningful ways to conduct our lives and not risk the danger of developing an eating disorder.

We have a blueprint of ways to begin. Eat well. Choose live foods that fill our bodies with nourishment. Give our bodies the tender loving care they deserve. Give them lots of pure water, a moderate amount of sunshine, ample rest, exercise and lots of things to smile about. Give your body attention. Get a massage, stretch, breathe, and giggle. Begin to relax and stop taking everything so personally and so seriously.

This has been a major challenge for me. I have always been a “worrier”. I worried about my Mom and Dad, my children, animals, partners, friends, and the weather. You name it. I worried about it all. I kept myself in a state of constant anxiety. I can’t explain why. Nor do I think it is necessary or important that I understand the origins of all my quirks. Suffice it to say that I arrived in adulthood with the notion that I should take care of everyone around me. Translated this means that I felt I needed to control them. If I saw someone failing to do what I thought was best for him or her or if I saw someone I cared about in pain, I would rush to the rescue. I thought I knew what was best for everyone. I was wrong.

One day it occurred to me that taking everyone’s pain away and minding his or her business might not actually be my job. This was an intriguing thought indeed! My job was to respect them, love them and validate their choices and feelings. I also learned I had to love, respect and validate myself. This was a revelation! It seemed remarkable that I could begin to pay attention to myself – a novel idea that frightened me. I resisted the idea as most of my clients do, as I feared people would not love me if I didn’t hover over each of them with concern and advice. My next question was ‘how do I do this?

I began setting boundaries and saying “no” sometimes. I made time for myself and thought about what my needs were as I went through each day. I was still present to listen to others and often I attended to their needs. But I made it a point to make my needs equally important. Gradually I noticed that people seemed to respect me more and I began to feel more joyful. I deserved to take care of myself. You do too!

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