Do you mentally beat yourself up for beating yourself up? You ate that piece of cake and now you must berate yourself about it the rest of the day. Then you are angry at yourself for berating yourself for eating that piece of cake. It is a vicious cycle many of us get into and don't know how to get out of because we are using the same brain to try to get out of this squirrels nest that keeps us in it.
See, I have what I call the itty bitty shitty committee in my head and it is tireless. Here is the Mantra I hear from this committee on a regular basis: "That [starting a business, exercising, going back to school, cleaning out the garage or making a healthy meal for my child, etc] is just one more thing you should do but can't, won't or haven't because you are [lazy, stupid, poor, incompetent, less than or just plain not good enough]."
So this voice keeps me doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. I've been told this is the definition of insanity and yes the dictionary verifies this to be true. Who out there is insane? I am, and on a regular basis to the point of wearing through the tread on my shoes with the repetition.
Today I feel like writing about the intermittent peace I have found despite this committee, that has been there all along. I have, through my bipolar, my depression, my alcoholism, being a mom, a student, married, separated and a worker among workers, realized what works for me and what doesn't. There was and is no simple answer and what works for me may not work for everyone. Here are a few discoveries I have made that helped change my life.
Many people have their own success stories of losing weight, starting a business, following their wonderful food plan, exercising daily, planting an organic garden, add infinitum. I have envied people who had the motivation, excitement, dedication and energy to have accomplished something they set out to accomplish. Instead of making me work harder I compare myself and use it as a self defeating mechanism. This blog alone, if it weren't mine, would have me thinking, well, why can't I just write like that. I just want to say, I have been there, still go back there and each in their own right must start where they can. This blog is written out of love of and for others, because I get it. So on that note:
I am taking a consciousness studies program at a very liberal and green college. A few weeks ago for one of the requirements, we all had to take a week long sabbath. What is a sabbath and why would a college class make this a requirement? Why indeed. I, myself, didn't really know what a sabbath was. Now that I have done one, I think every school and business would benefit immensely from making it a part of their curriculum or schedule regardless of what the purpose is of that class or profession.
A sabbath is a timeout from our busy and insane lives. It is as important as sleeping or eating. It does not need to be religious, although they do have the right idea. Many people call this church on Sunday or places in Europe call it a siesta and it is taken in the middle of the day between the busy morning and afternoon to evening hours. However, the direction has gone askew. This is a time to love yourself, love others, have fun, do something you want or do nothing at all. Not be made to do something you don't want to unless it is new and may benefit your life in the long run.
Take for example, turning off the television. Not something I wanted to do but knew deep down was corroding my relationship with my daughter and causing undo stress with the amount of "bad" news I would consume daily. So my daughter and I turned the Tv off for a week. We even made a sign to put on it that said, "no tv, no netflix and no Wii." It was withdrawals for me for the first couple of days and I did not think I would be able to survive without my politics for the most part. I also shut down my computer and eased back from my cell phone. It was quiet.
I had stopped the infiltration of the outside world from invading my sacred space. I read more, played games with my daughter, took a bubble bath with candles, played the piano, got creative, all on top of having feelings come up that I was avoiding by watching tv. I sat with my feelings, I called a friend, journaled and went to my AA meetings. I got in touch with me and continue the journey to be alone with me and be ok. It was a step in the right direction. Even if you take five minutes out of your busy day to doodle or cut a picture you like out of a magazine and hang it up or write poetry that makes no sense and doesn't rhyme...do it. The practice changed my life. I still watch my politics and get on the computer and check Facebook, but I don't need to like I thought I did.
I made body movement as important as breathing that week because I know enough now how it makes me feel and well, I had the time. I believe the word exercise has so much baggage hooked to it, I don't even use it anymore. Movement for me is the difference between feeling alive and not wanting to be alive. But how? If I am depressed and fatigued my committee is going turn into the Mob and assault me from all sides. Here is the secret...ready?
Stop reading this blog right now, get up and walk to your mailbox, run around a tree in your back yard or jump in place five times. Take three deep breaths because we don't do that enough. Thats it. No more than that. See, you set a goal and accomplished it. The point is to find some tiny bit of love you have inside you and put energy into that. It is in there, you just need to jump start it. Now keep in mind that committing to do this simple movement daily with someone else can make a world of difference. Make it fun. Text the exact time you will both do it and then find out if you each did.
Let's try another...Laughing. Oh god, you say. That is what I said when the laughing yoga instructor came to our class one day. Yes, very liberal college. I had heard of it and participated in a type of it and hated it. It was embarrassing, awkward and if you were self conscious or shy to start, down right scary. I was having a bad day anyway and this only made it worse. Now I had to either laugh and make a fool of myself or stick out like a sore thumb by not participating. Neither seemed an option for me. It was fortunate that all my classmates were going to be doing the same thing and my class on a whole has no problem looking ridiculous. So there I am, trapped and having to face the fear of looking and acting silly when it was my plan to be pissy and down right miserable for the rest of the day. Committee on overtime. By the end of the hour we were in the hall on our backs, legs and arms sticking up in the air, wiggling, and laughing in hysterics. It was the caterpillar laugh. I would have laughed at you had you said that was what I was going to be doing at the end of class. But laughter is powerful medicine and can produce crazy and amazing results. My daughter loves making up her own laughs and labeling them.
Incase you think there is no way you can get yourself to laugh, let me tell you that your body does not know the difference between genuine laughter and faking it. That's right, so go ahead and make a complete ass of yourself because it is benefitting your body regardless. I won't go into the actual health benefits of laughter, you can look that information up almost anywhere. So if you are alone right now give it a try. I even try laughing when I am angry. Even if it doesn't change one iota of the way you feel, you are healing your body, and in part, putting energy toward that tiny bit of love you have inside yourself for yourself.
To recap...four things you can do to feel better today. Take a Sabbath, do movement, yell in your hands and laugh. Make these small and simple and for god sakes if your committee is going to beat you up for not doing them, well then, stop what you are doing at that moment and yell or laugh at it. All of these things combined probably could be done in less than five minutes. Just pointing it out.
Another great simple thing you can do for yourself is text or email a friend. Don't bother calling, in your mood, you won't want to. But I find if I just reach out to one person and say hey, I was thinking about you, it is energy again that not only goes to the other person, but is more energy into that tiny bit of love you have for yourself inside. This may be an option after some or all of the above have been done...or not.
On to eating...my sticking point. I have been an "emotion stuffing" eater all my life. It has been the fall back after all the other vices subside. This messes with your head almost more than anything else. I have been on weight watchers, the hcg hormone diet, over eaters anonymous... All work in their own way and at one point for me. I am not one to stay on one thing too long. I almost don't want to tackle this area because of how big a lot of people's committee is on this subject. All I can do is relate my experience.
I had been doing body movement for awhile in the form of swimming at school when a friend of mine called and said that she was going to start the OA How food plan. This is a big restriction of calories to knock sugar and carbs out of your diet. I was at the right place and the right time to accept her offer to join her. Again, I was ready to be here, I didn't start here. I also didn't plan to adhere to it fully. What weight watchers has done for me is give me fruit. Fruit and vegetables have a zero point system. Zero. This allowed me to curb the sweet cravings at night with fruit and I didn't care how much as long as I was getting off of my trigger foods of refined sugars. Because the Mob in your head has a hey day with food and your head, the whole point was to just do, not think. Just do, not think. If not done, try again and not think. But support was a must. You can do this alone for only so long as far as I am concerned. I needed that umbilical cord to another who understood and was going through what I was. The feelings you have been eating away may be great enough to seek outside help for awhile. Remember this is love for yourself, not something to check off a list or quit if you don't do it right. As far as I am concerned there is no right way. Attempting perfectionism is the most hateful thing we do to ourselves. We are all unique unto ourselves...there is alway going to be surprises and feelings and new committee attempts to sabotage the journey. Remember it is a journey...our life long one and ours to make how we want.
I juice now to get the green leafy vegetables into my diet (because kale is a garnish not a food) and when I am just too tired or busy, it is easy to do. Juicing to me was a fad and one that I wouldn't have even thought twice about. One day however, I decided to watch some of the movies I had on my Netflix cue and picked "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead."
My daughter and I watched it and it was very inspiring. It was the next step in feeding that tiny bit of love inside of me, that was growing, by the way. This movie was about a man who is over weight, on many medications and is over all unhealthy. The doctors cannot seem to find a way to "fix" him. Then one day he thinks about how his body use to heal itself when he skinned his knee as a boy and realized it healed it on its own. So he went about finding a way to naturally get his health back. He juiced for sixty days...You can watch the film for the rest.
This is all about self love, support, just breathing and changing what you think about what you think. You are worth it and most certainly are not alone in where you are at or with the challenges you face. If life is overwhelming, pick up the phone and call for help. Even if it seems like it isn't that bad or you think others will judge you. Let them judge, but love you. Just do it. I sound like a Nike commercial...Just remember you aren't alone and I get it. And remember, if you beat yourself up...its ok. Just try not to beat yourself up for beating yourself up. You are loved, trust that.