The past few weeks I’ve been spending a lot of time being brutally honest with myself about where I’m at vs. where I want to be. And truthfully, it stinks! Looking in the mirror is hard on a good day, let alone when you decide to use the magnifying mirror so that you can really see every blemish and imperfection.
But… it’s also illuminating. It’s laugh while you cry. It’s the excitement of that “aha!” moment when you finally, after all these years, connect the dots from trigger A to life long reaction B.
“If you can’t be honest with yourself, you can’t heal yourself.” Ed Latimore
As many of you know, I spent my childhood being told I wasn’t good enough. That I was unlovable. The root of all problems in my mother’s life and in my parents’ marriage. Not to mention the fact that I was adopted, so there’s a strong undercurrent of fear of rejection that has always run through my psyche, and a belief that it will happen eventually in all my relationships because if my own mother didn’t want me, who would?
I have spent years working through this. Really diving in and trying to exemplify the adage that “trauma is unintegrated resource”. I’ve been integrating! Healing, learning, meditating, getting curious- doing all the things. And it’s been brutal. Every time I think I’ve finally healed that primal wound of being undeserving, I realize nope, not quite yet… there’s one more layer.
I’ve always struggled with taking care of myself physically- specifically exercising and eating healthy food. Part of the reason why I stayed in fitness for so long was because I knew if I wasn’t required to show up to teach the class, I probably wouldn’t show up. This has proven itself to be true in the last year since COVID hit- I’ve essentially stopped exercising, and my body is paying the price because my other downfall is food. One of the few ways my Mother showed me love was with her cooking, so I am a deeply committed comfort eater. Where are the cupcakes, the pizza, the fried chicken- if I’m down, those are my go-tos.
But my husband took a picture of me with our little one a couple months ago and what a wakeup call that was- is that really me? That’s not who I want to be. Glennon Doyle was on a podcast with Brene Brown and she was talking about the importance of not just telling her children about how they should live, but modeling it- that she asks herself “Would this be the type of relationship I would want for my daughter?” and if the answer is “No”, then something needs to change- no matter how hard or messy it might be. This idea flashed through my mind as I saw that picture – “Is this the relationship with his body I want Charlie to have?” And the answer was an emphatic “NO!”. And so, something had to change. But what? and how? I’ve tried so many times to change my relationship with taking care of myself, how am I going to make it stick this time?
So I did what I always do, I dove headfirst into my Meditation practice and began listening to any podcast that struck my fancy.
I began just going for a walk every day (it’s not exercise, it’s completing the “Exercise” ring on my iWatch- for some reason, this I can do, whereas telling myself just to exercise creates major resistance).
And I began asking myself how much I was allowing myself to Feel, and how much I was choosing to tap out. How often do we numb our bodies against feeling the effects of all the things we do to challenge them, like eating poorly, not getting any exercise, and putting sleep as a low priority? How often do we choose to compartmentalize our emotions because they are uncomfortable; far easier to just put them in a box on a shelf and lie to ourselves that we will “deal with it later”?
The truth is, emotions are just energy in motion- and if we don’t allow that energy to flow, it gets stuck. The fear will come out in some other way, perhaps GI issues. The anger will come out at someone else, maybe at the person who cuts you off on the way to work, instead of the partner who barely acknowledged a milestone birthday. If we ignore our steadily gaining weight, we develop knee pain. If we pretend we don’t need sleep, the inflammation in our bodies slowly builds until all sorts of problems crop up.
One of the biggest components of finding true health is allowing ourselves to be present with every part of who we are. With our physical bodies, the energetic, the emotional, the mental, the intuitive, and the spiritual self. To that end, we need to be willing to truly confront how these different aspects feel and be honest with ourselves.
In what way do you not take care of yourself?
Here are some questions to ask:
- Do you exercise?
- Do you eat a well balanced diet?
- Do you get at least 7 hours of sleep every night?
- Do you spend time in nature?
- Do you take care of your appearance, or have you let COVID assist you into a slide of sweatpants and twice a week showers?
- Do you pay attention to what your body tells you, or do you ignore it? i.e. If you are utterly exhausted, do you force yourself to go to that high intensity aerobics class, or do you allow that maybe a walk would better serve you? Do you burn the midnight oil even when you’re dying to go to sleep, because your mind tells you the work is more important?
- Are you able to describe what different emotions actually feel like in your body? If someone asked you to explain to an Alien what Joy, Fear, Anger, Sadness, Disgust *feels* like- could you do it?
- Do you analyze everything?
- Are you constantly making lists, and then beating yourself up when you don’t get everything done?
- Do you second guess yourself or have a hard time making decisions?
- Do you tend to ignore gut feelings, and go more with your head?
These are just a few questions to get you started. The fact is, we all have coping mechanisms. Some of us run to the mind to help us sort through difficult times, and do everything possible to ignore the related emotions. Some of us pour ourselves into work in order to avoid taking care of our bodies (and can give you very logical reasons why this is the right thing to do). And so often we put the hard and scary work of putting ourselves under the spotlight, really scrutinizing just how well we are showing up for OURSELVES, on the back burner. Too many other things to do, people to take care of, work that needs to be addressed. But if we can’t learn to be honest with ourselves, learn to spot all the ways we are ignoring what our bodies, our minds, and our hearts are trying to tell us, we risk it all. We risk disease. We risk being so easily triggered we hurt the relationships we care about. We risk not showing up as the professional we wish to be because we’re exhausted. So please, take the time to honestly look yourself in the mirror and figure out what you’ve decided you don’t deserve- whether it’s sleep, nice clothes, or taking 20 minutes a day to meditate. And then do the *real* work and figure out why you aren’t giving yourself the life you deserve. I promise you, if you can do those two things, your world will change.
Love & Light,