I can’t believe that I didn’t see it as I was writing it but it is kind of ironic that last week, as I was sharing the news of my engagement with you all, the topic I chose to write on was “commitments and balance”! Ah, the subconscious works in mysterious ways doesn’t it!? We teach what we most need to learn!
It’s definitely a message that I can stand to be reminded of:
“Don’t make commitments you can’t keep and still live a balanced life!”
No, I’m not rethinking my plans to marry. I am, however, conscious of the need to stay grounded in my day-to-day self-care routine in order to be the best that I can be for my son, my sweetheart, my family and friends-at-large and my clients. We all share that need. We all need a fundamental routine of self-care that we honor first and foremost in order to have the energy and the presence of mind to be healthy and balanced and patient and clear-headed with the rest of the world as we go through our day.
Those of you who use food to cope have it backwards. That was my own experience too. Regardless of how tired, or how sick I was, or what I had planned to take care of for myself that day, if someone asked something of me or even hinted at a need that they had, I dropped myself like a hot potato and took on responsibility for their need getting met and for their feelings in relation to it. I couldn’t say no. At least I believed I couldn’t.
If I said no, I believed it would mean:
- that they (whoever they were) wouldn’t like me;
- that I wasn’t a nice person;
- that I was selfish;
- that I would never be asked to do anything for that person ever again;
- that people would gossip about me;
- that I had to have something super duper important, like a lung transplant, or it just wasn’t worthy of saying no;
- that people had the right to be angry at me and to stop liking me;
- that people would ostracize me because their needs were more important and I wasn’t allowed to take care of myself if it meant that they didn’t get what they needed.
I’m sure there were many, many more similar stories – maybe you can share a few of yours with me – but the training I received in life as a child was very clear: Say no to anyone and very bad things will happen because only bad, inconsiderate people say no!
That’s what I was taught.
Well, actually, that training was a giant pile of bunk! That training came from my co-dependent parents who were scared shitless by their own dysfunctional training, of anyone not liking them or even having a momentary feeling of disappointment towards them. It just wasn’t done.
I do believe that my parents were doing their best with the limited tools and resources they had at that time. I also firmly believe that their training in relating to others was completely backwards and will only ever make life miserable if I, or anyone else for that matter, adheres to it.
The only way to be a healthy, happy, peaceful, passionate, confident human being is come to know in your gut, without question, that you are equally as worthy and deserving of love and caring and of having your needs met as any other human being on the planet. Yes you are!!!!! You must make this knowing your goal and begin to act in small ways that demonstrate that equality to yourself, like the dreaded “saying no.”
Often we are so incredibly concerned because of our old co-dependent training and the belief that without everyone’s approval we will not be happy or peaceful or okay with how we appear to others that we don’t allow ourselves to be ourselves. We hardly know who we are. And from the old co-dependent mindset we’re not about to reveal that true self to anyone else until we know she’s perfect, flawless, beyond reproach, beyond rejection, able to be everything to everyone and to leap tall buildings in a single bound while she’s at it.
You’ll be waiting a long time.
How long have you been using food to cope? How many years have you been waiting to feel deserving of caring from yourself and of the time and space to eat well, exercise moderately and get adequate rest; to say no and really put yourself first in your life? How long? How long will you wait before you try something new – something that actually works?
One of the greatest gifts I ever, ever, ever received was the learning of the lesson – that I can make mistakes and still be a decent, worthwhile, lovable, smart, capable, competent person. Wahoo! Freedom to live! Freedom to be real! And rather than it being diminishing to admit I made a mistake, it’s very strengthening to stand solid in myself and acknowledge my humanity and imperfection while still valuing myself equally with others.
The only people who have a problem with people making mistakes are those who are still stuck in their own co-dependent, perfectionist mindset, and if they can’t make mistakes and be okay, they sure as hell aren’t going to let anyone else get away with it either. So, if anyone gives you a tough time for making a mistake, or for being imperfect in their eyes, it is not necessary for you to give yourself a hard time, instead, give them some empathy and compassion and remind yourself of the stress that must be alive in them as they continue to strive for perfection while you are free to live and be happy and to be real.
The story that you’re not allowed to make mistakes is another key piece of the martyrdom puzzle that keeps you fully entrenched in using food to cope. In the past you were likely judged, ridiculed, shamed, or perhaps ostracized or even hit or physically harmed in some way for making mistakes. This has everything to do with those people and nothing to do with you. Cross my heart!
Now, as an adult, it is fundamental to your happiness that you allow yourself to admit to yourself and others when you’ve made a boo boo. This comes up more often in the form of making plans (back to the commitments piece) that you then realize don’t really work for you or are just too much to take on. The old you, the co-dependent you, would force herself to honor those commitments, regardless of the havoc it might wreak in your own self-care or even in your family, because you’d be afraid of people thinking less of you for changing your mind. In other words, you believe that you should always know immediately what you feel and what you need, or even what you’ll feel and need 2 weeks or 3 months from now, and that there is something wrong with you if you don’t.
I challenge each of you to the following homework assignment:
- Commit to saying: “I’ll think about it,” or “I’ll get back to you, I’m not sure what I have on,” or “there’s something niggling in me about that night/date, I’ll have to get back to you,” whenever you are asked to do anything at all, even if you’re sure you’re going to want to, for the next 2 weeks. No matter what!
- Commit to really thinking about what feels right and best to you, not what others would like best or what would work best for others, not even what would make you most popular. Only commit to those things that feel right to you and that you have the time and space for while still taking good care of yourself: eating well, exercising moderately, and getting adequate rest. If you’re not doing those three things well at this point, don’t take anything else on until you’ve got a nice flow with those three things. Everything else will fall into place once you’ve got your self-care in balance.
Life is for learning. Mistakes are for learning. Mistakes are human. To err is to be human. There is nothing wrong with you if you make a commitment that later turns out to be too much. There is something wrong with you if you don’t let it be okay to say you’ve overcommitted and you need to change your mind. It’s called co-dependency and it is at the root of your use of food to cope. Change that and you don’t need to numb and soothe yourself with food anymore. Guaranteed!
Let me know how you do with the challenge.