I’ve often talked about how the way I take care of myself is tightly interwoven with the way I feel about myself.
Today I can be deeply rooted in my true worth and identity, the next day I am wandering around lost looking for a morsel of approval from anyone who is willing to deal.
I am an approval junkie.
I think this is important, because at every seminar or support group I’ve ever led, I’ve asked those who are approval addicts to raise their hands. Every single person always does. There is something about this that’s linked to a struggle with self care.
It helps me to know this is my tendency. It might be more accurate to describe it as willingness to do anything on earth to avoid disapproval because I find that feeling so awful and uncomfortable.
Martha Beck puts it like this: “Being dependent on approval—so dependent that we barter away all our time, energy, and personal preferences to get it—ruins lives. It divorces us from our true selves, precludes real intimacy, and turns us into seething cesspools of suppressed rage (of course, I mean that in a nice way).”
There is a saying that everyone you meet is your teacher. I’m not sure about that, but I do believe I learn something from everyone I meet. Maybe that’s the same thing. Anyway, I recently offended someone I know with an email that was meant to be encouragement and support. I felt the hot rush of shame shoot through me when I realized it.
The first things that come up in me are defensiveness, justification and blame. But I have written over my desk these words:
“The soul takes responsibility. The ego blames and transfers responsibility. Which are you living an ego-driven or soul-centered life?” – Debbie Ford
If I want to stay soul-centered, I cannot allow myself to get defensive. As Byron Katie says, “Defense is the first act of war.” Defensiveness keeps me from being rooted in my true worth and identity and allows me to slip into my wounded self; the victim.
Truth: My response must be love. And that is so difficult.
When I am stuck in victim mode, I am the worst decision maker ever. I am self destructive. I am short term gratification all the way. Back in the day, that first cigarette after attempting to quit was often accompanied by raging thoughts along the lines of, “look what you made me DO!” I am not in my right mind in this state of being. I am not rooted in Truth, I am separated from it.
Truth: My wounded self is the worst decision maker ever. (Write this down. It is very important!)
When we are talking about health and fitness, remember the choices have to be extraordinary. So how does my wounded, broken victim self learn to make extraordinary choices? My wounded, broken victim self can’t. All she really knows how to do is blame and transfer responsibility, with favorites such as these:
See how you made me feel!
Look what you made me say.
Look what you made me do.
Look what you made me eat.
Look what you made me become.
I can’t stay in that. My job is to read, pray, sing, run, walk, dance, meditate and get myself up and out of my wounded, broken victim self and back to my whole, healed authentic self.
Truth: We choose which one shows up and makes decisions; victim or warrior.
The problem is this. We don’t keep up the daily practices that keep us rooted in our whole, healed authentic selves. We skip reading, praying, singing, running, walking, dancing and meditating because we don’t make the commitment. Then disapproval, or some other trigger, comes along and plunks us right back into our wounds.
Truth: We must create daily practices that keep us rooted in our whole, healed authentic selves.
I am learning not to wait until I am already being pulled under. I am learning to make this a priority, to commit to daily practices that help me stay rooted in the truth. Then I can show up as the warrior, not the victim. This allows me to hold space for others, no matter where they are in their walk. Nothing anyone does or says is about me. Nothing. Everyone is just working out their own battle between ego/flesh and Spirit. Suddenly I can see people without judging them and extend grace.
From that place, I can choose consistently well; my breakfast, my activity, my responses to conflict, all of it. That is the key. Choosing well. Choosing extraordinary. The goal is not to force ourselves to make better choices. The goal is to stay rooted in our authentic selves, and from that place I guarantee health and fitness and extraordinary choices come without the battle. And sometimes even includes a cupcake.