“The secret of change is to focus your energy not on fighting the old, but building the new.” -Socrates
Changing is one of the most difficult and yet most important things we do in life! And some would even deem change one of life’s only constants (specifically being Heraclitus, the pre-socratic Greek philosopher), a concept that delights or terrifies us based on how we respond to life’s changes. If life constantly changes anyways, we cope with it much better when we choose to change, rather than simply having change forced upon us. But how do we as individuals make changes for the better? What do we do when old habits come up to bite us and try to drag us back down into a damaging lifestyle? Mind over matter, win the game mentally?
For me personally, there are two related things I have worked so hard to change recently:
-the tendency to binge eating
-habits of negative thinking
When the urge to binge eat rears it’s ugly head, what do I do? I try to focus on the future, the positive, all my plans and ambitions that this will sabotage.
Ever heard of the law of attraction? Essentially, that which you focus on and think about is what you will accomplish, achieve, and receive. This is why vision boards are so effective! In the same way, thinking about how much I shouldn’t think about donuts, cookies, the like, only leads to more thinking about junk food, and the eventual procuring of and overindulging in them (for me). On the contrary, thinking about what I want in life, and how healthy fruits/veggies/excercise help me achieve these goals, draws me towards eating and preparing foods that nourish and build me up, rather than tear me down emotionally and physically. This is something I’m learning and continuing to practice daily!
Yet I am human, a work in progress, and sometimes the stress and pressure and fear there will lead me to cave. And then I have another choice to make in that instant:
Will I beat myself up, lamenting my screw up, fearing that this will lead to the reversal of all my progress, all my hard work? Or will I forgive myself, instantly, and accept myself for all that I am, for the human that I am, and choose to believe in myself to overcome this. Will I choose to get right back up and keep doing the right thing. To be resilient, forgiving, and positive about my ability to keep learning and growing. Not to make myself suffer or “make up” for the failure, no, the key is gentleness, love, tender self-care.
The past, even 10 minutes ago cannot be erased. The key is deciding right in that moment after messing up what the best thing is that I can do for myself.
Often it is to get a good night’s rest, pack a day’s worth of healthy foods to take to work, and curl up with a good book, easing me into deep slumber. The choice I make is to love myself, mentally/figuratively cradle my inner self in my mental arms. It sounds so cheesy, and the way that that you personally can love and honor and respect and forgive yourself may feel different. But for me, I’m a cuddler, there is no better physical feeling than being full body hugged and snuggled by someone who loves me unconditionally. And so this is the image, the sentiment with which I cradle and nurture my inner self when I’ve messed up at something I really didn’t want to mess up. And this is the attitude that allows me to continue to change and grow towards a better self, and a better life.
The other thing I try to do when I cave, is look at what went on that day that drove me to stuffing feelings with food. I realize that feeling overwhelmed and out of control, or having health problems greatly impact my bingeing. Also if I go from a vacation, long weekend, or otherwise period of control and relaxation, into a hectic work week, it can be triggered by a rude awakening. Situations in which I feel very uncomfortable or even incompetent, lead me to seek comfort in food as well. I have spent years, decades even mentally flogging myself for these follies, but no longer! Now when I binge, I say to myself, “OK, done, I have accepted that I did this. I have chosen to forgive myself. Time to get some good rest, and know that tomorrow is a new day!
Time to focus not on the old ways that need changing, but on the new goals that I continue to achieve, such as DOING 3 Pull-Ups today!!”
I look forward to the goals I am achieving and the vast progress I have made in my life over the years. I let go of the perfectionism that has long been enemy to the very good in my life. I accept myself as flawed, but as someone who is growing and becoming. I am proud of all that I am and all that I strive towards. I accept myself radically and give myself a wide berth to exist, rather than trapping myself into a narrow view of what is acceptable. I aim to practice at least 1 act of radical self-love per day, be it a lavish bubble bath, an indulgent nap, or catching an epic sunset. You deserve to be your biggest fan. Give it a try 🙂