Anxiety, fear, insecurity... these pests often try to sneak their way into my life's plan when they think I'm not looking, but I'm quick to remind them that I'm not the scared soul I used to be. Those days are over. But, you know what's ironic? They somehow get their first cousin, doubt, to linger just long enough to get me to question whether or not I've really let go.
The truth is that I'm not just aware that I am not my weight or my disorder, but I am also equipped to combat doubt with what I value the most, which includes my faith, relationships, and meaningful work. This (what I value most), as Dr. Carolyn Coker Ross explains, is what helps me to move toward a life of soul satisfaction.
That is, because I am able to focus on my faith, nurture significant relationships, and enjoy work that gives me meaning and purpose, I can, in turn, experience satisfaction at the deepest levels without worry or fear. I can be inquisitive and ask hard questions without fear of rejection; I can do the things I love without a sense of self-consciousness or shame.
My true self is who I always wanted to be when I was a child and adolescent, but did not have the latitude or encouragement to become. Now that I'm living in my true identity, I understand the urgency to achieve self-healing, allowing me to jettison the chains of the past and to experience deeper more authentic connection with the world.
My hope for you: that as we go through this next year, you will experience the joy of becoming your own healing artist and empowered change agent so that you can pay it forward and help other moms like us experience the hope and empowerment we enjoy for a lifetime. Here's to a very happy and healthy New Year. 2018 here we come!!!
pour ta santé. À Tout à l'Heure
These days, we hear a lot of talk about legacy and what a person hopes to be remembered for once leave the Earth. As I've come to know myself more fully over the last several years, I now understand Steven R. Covey's statement, "Begin with the end in mind" with more depth. For most of my life, I had no clear perspective of the purpose of my existence in terms of how I fit into the world. I toiled in the fields of dissociation for years, feeling as if my contributions had no significant implications for the progress of humankind. Then one day, I experienced an "ah ha!" moment that led to the realization that I would only feel connected to humankind if I actually took the time to connect with humankind. Wow! what an amazing insight! (sarcasm).
You see, I had been waiting to be suddenly heralded as the "sister of kindness" or the "daughter of peace," but who even knew of me, let alone my work of service? Even though I was doing good things in my own eyes, I was also neglecting a vital part of societal contribution: building relationships and connecting with others. Once I started to connect with other people, I not only began to see my purpose, but I began living my purpose with a seemingly surreal certainty.
I've come to realize the importance of beginning today with the picture of how I truly want to be remembered when my time on Earth comes to a close. Knowing what I want my end to be helps me to constantly assess my values to determine if my lifestyle is in alignment with that goal. Since discovering my true self, this has become my life's mission: To demonstrate the character and moral fortitude that reveals at the end of life - a woman who was always one step ahead in service to others; an awakened woman who knew her purpose and worked tirelessly to ensure that every person she met experienced true relationship and honor; a visionary who was attuned to holistic health and taught others to do the same; and lastly, a godly woman who, despite her flaws, lived out her purpose in her generation with faith, hope and love.
Have you thought about what you would like people to say about you once you are no longer here to defend yourself? I challenge you to write out your mission and think about the life you're living now. Does it measure up to how you want to be remembered? I hope you're on the right track. Let's continue to help one another grow while we are here on the Earth.
pour ta santé
Over the last year, I have intentionally engaged in a practice called perception or paradigm shifting. This is where I have assessed the images, views, thoughts, and core beliefs I hold in my head of the world around me, and determined if they represented reality or a warped picture of reality. Dr. Carolyn Coker Ross described warped perceptions as living in a dream. Furthermore, Dr. Steven R. Covey described the images or paradigms we hold in our heads as ways of perceiving, understanding, or interpreting the events in our environment. They are like maps that point to or explain something else, but they are not themselves the thing they are pointing to.
Perception is like a map in that it serves to help us make meaning of our surroundings, but it is not the surrounding. Covey noted that we have many maps (i.e., paradigms/perceptions) in our heads; some representing reality (the way things are) and others representing the way things should be (i.e., expression of our personal values based on our core beliefs developed from past experiences). These maps help us to make sense of the things we see and experience, and because we have used them for so long, we may be oblivious to the possibility that they are steering us in the wrong direction. Since we have been conditioned from childhood to see the world a certain way, it may not occur to us that our perceptions of life are distorted and not at all true depictions of the way things actually are. In order to change these perceptions or paradigms, we must, as Dr. Ross stated, "Wake up from the dream."
Perception shifting is how I have awaken from the "dream" in various areas of my life, and I am now applying it to end my battle with food. Allow me to share a personal story to illustrate this practice. When I was in elementary school (I forget what age I was or what grade I was in at the time) but I was interested in becoming a cheerleader and wanted to participate in tryouts. I went home filled with joy as I approached my mom with the parent permission slip and the question, "Can I try out for the cheer leading team?" What followed would change my life for decades. "No," she said. "That's not what sanctified girls do." Now, I don't think those were her exact words at that particular time, but I had heard those words far too many times in my childhood to keep count. Essentially, she told me that I could not try out to become a cheerleader because the act of "kicking up in a short skirt" went against the biblical teachings of "modest dress" and "godliness."
This event and others like it taught me that I was different from other people, and I gradually internalized this message as a personal belief. I believed that my being different was synonymous with not being able to do things I was passionate about, which ultimately kept me silent, unacknowledged, and my talents underdeveloped. The vicious cycle of "different" equaling "can't do," caused me to have serious doubts about my abilities, and it soon led me to believe that other people also had doubts about my capabilities, which in turn, deepened my sense of inadequacy and worthlessness. This is when I began looking for ways to soothe my pain and cope with my feelings of being different. I found that comfort in food.
But, soon, food began bringing about its own series of problems, and that is when I knew it was time to examine the deep roots of my thoughts and feelings as they related to inadequacy, unworthiness, not being enough, and being "different." This is when I discovered many of my childhood core beliefs and how they came to represent my perception of myself, the world and the people around me (i.e., no one cared about what I had to offer, I was not good enough, my contributions didn't matter, I was too different to relate to or make an impact on others).
But, the shift in perception came when I started to provide evidence to the contrary; that is, I collected data that showed how I had done things like writing, singing, dancing, teaching, mentoring, coaching, and listening that had made a significant impact on the lives of other people. I had been given compliments, praise and rewards for my contributions. This is when I realized that the invalidating statements my mom made to me during childhood, which led to my distorted core beliefs that my contributions did not matter, were not true at all.
I developed confidence in my new core belief that my contributions did matter because other people had benefited from them and had let me know about it. I built on this foundation by working with therapists and coaches to get clear on my new direction, by taking healing arts courses, and by doing my own self-help work to consistently challenge the old core belief that what I had to offer was not valued or wanted. Through perception shifting - changing the way I see the world based on facts - I was able to develop new paradigms about my worth, capabilities and contributions.
I now recognize my own abilities and skills as worthy and needed by others. This has allowed me to understand that I don't need to self-soothe using food because I am no longer searching to be recognized or valued. I originally used food to soothe a deep need for validation, recognition, and acceptance. But now that I have found my true self, being who I was meant to be from the beginning is more than enough to satisfy my mind, body, and soul without having to use food as a mediator.
To your health (pour ta santé),
I've been thinking a lot about just how much I have changed emotionally and psychologically to arrive at the point where I am decisively able to set a deadline to show my real self without regret. I never imagined that something like this was possible, let alone attainable, but here I am going raw in every facet of my existence, breaking free and living with purpose.
When I thought about how I would chronicle my "coming out," I had the idea to just shout it from the rooftops and let the world know that I had arrived, but as great as that sounded, I knew that wasn't my style. I wanted to be authentic and transparent from the jump, and from years of experience of being those things privately, I felt the best way to be those things publicly was to first let my natural persona whisper, then speak softly, and finally utter my truth with confidence and authority.
My day in a nutshell:
Ultimate goal: End my battle with food.
Current task: Eradicate dysfunctional core beliefs and build new structures that perpetuate healthy thoughts, feelings, and actions.
What I did today: I used Carolyn Coker Ross's "Emotional eating" workbook to examine my current core beliefs as they relate to binge eating and compulsive overeating.
Struggles: I totally blew my diet this evening after having spent a good part of the day exercising, meditating, and watching what I put into my body. Now I'm struggling with guilt of having worked so hard only to watch another good start go down the drain.
Successes: Meal prep has been a life saver as I can turn to the food I have packed for mobility so I won't have any excuses for eating out. I also spoke with my doctor and got a referral to start seeing a nutritionist within the next few weeks.
What I can do to make tomorrow more effective: I need to pay attention to the core beliefs dealing with inadequacy, invisibility, and lack of trust. It is when I feel some connection to these beliefs that I am more likely to eat compulsively or binge on comfort foods.
Next week's teaser: I will share how I have worked through many of my negative core beliefs from childhood by challenging those beliefs through perception shifting.
If I'm being honest, I still struggle with some negative core beliefs, but none of them hold sway over my life the way they did for so many years. I'm not just aware of them, but I have the tools to combat them. They no longer have a stranglehold on me to keep me from fighting back. That is the difference. But there are times when I feel sad or unsure about something that they try to creep back in. This is when I use my resources to fight back whether it is calling a friend, meditating, talking a walk, or making something creative. The goal is not just to take away with negative thing, but to also replace it with something that empowers and inspires.
To your health (pour ta santé)!
I am a healing artist, and I believe it is my mission to help other moms like me become masterful life synthesizers and empowered agents through the healing arts.