More than the Body
Saturday mornings are some of my favorite times. The early morning hours when I own the house, the quiet, the coffee and the day stretched out. All things are possible. It’s the time during the hectic week that I can actually think. Sometimes this means writing, sometimes this means reading the news and sometimes this means staring out the window, watching the sun come up. I always feel late if I wake up and the sun is already in the sky. I love the gray of the early morning. I love to set my intentions, breath for a moment, light a candle. It is in these moments that I try to have no expectations for myself. I owe nothing to anyone This is a short, short moment. Because all too soon either I will begin to create the unrealistic to do list or someone in my family will unexpectedly wake early. And then the moment slips away. I love Sunday mornings as well, but there is more urgency to move and accomplish when you have work the next day then when you have the abundance of time.
One of the places my mind has lived in these moments is beyond the challenges I have with my weight and my body image. Last week while I was writing I had the realization of how I can’t possibly love anyone fully and without criticism if I first don’t allow that for myself. If you know me at all, you know that this is not the sort of thought process I normally engage in. I was raised with the idea that you don’t let too many things bring you down, you don’t let life beat you up and if it does, well suck it up it happens to everyone. Quit your whining and move on. I believe in that. Sort of. I have a very low frustration level for myself and others when they refuse to work at their challenges. There is a slim line between venting and wallowing and I have no patience for wallowing. Not that I don’t engage in it from time to time, but then I need to smack myself in the back of the head (figuratively, of course) and work it out. I believe in finding solutions, making plans and then actually following through.
So, when I realized that I continue to circle back to what I am terming depression with some anger issues now, but really, I’m not a professional, I couldn’t just sit in a funk. Over the years I have reached out to professionals, but for me never found the right fit. The last time, after a few weeks I felt a little disgusted with myself and the whole process so after a couple of months I ended it. Why did it take me a couple of months? I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. But that is another whole issue. I have tried SAM-e to some benefit. This is an herbal supplement and for about a year I really did feel as though it was working. It gave me a pause, that’s all. It just gave me that half a second I needed to question the thought, or reign in the emotion. But then, I decided that I didn’t want to be on it forever and there was a bump when I came off. I was definitely more irritable and that is putting it mildly. So, bye bye SAM-e.
Recently I have been reading and watching lectures on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT. I have known about this or course, but never really learned how it worked or the science behind it. In a nutshell, your thoughts (cognitions) affect your emotions affect your actions (behaviors). This is a cyclical process not really linear. If you engage in therapy, the therapist may have you capture your thoughts in a journal or within a graphic organizer while correlating these thoughts to actions and emotions. I am doing a very bad job of explaining this. But in essence, if you can reframe or change your thoughts, or reframe or change your behaviors there is a domino effect on the other two. One of the lectures around positive psychology spoke of actively searching for the good in your life. Apparently, we are actually predisposed to seek and hold onto the bad in our life. There is a theory that at some point in our evolution this helped us survive. So if you feel, like me, that your are constantly seeing things from a negative viewpoint and have to actively reframe them cut yourself a break. Maybe we are just excellent survivors To counteract this, we need to intentionally focus on what is good in our life. One way is a gratitude journal. I have tried gratitude, maybe a little half heartedly several times but found it to be a very surface activity. Listing what I am grateful for, leaves me in a bind of making sure I count everyone in, lest their feelings get hurt. Yes, I know it makes no sense but that’s how I’m wired. What if I die and they come across a journal and suddenly realize I forgot to list their name? Geez! The pressure! And then I watched a lecture on positive psychology and realized that it wasn’t really a list. Well, I guess it could be, but what he was doing with his patient was having her find one instance in her day and writing about it in detail. Where were you? Who was there? What was the smell? The sound? The moment? Why was it special? How did you feel? Our moments come at us so fast in the day it is easy to lose the good ones. Taking time to unpack one really good moment can help us reframe our thoughts, and therefore our emotions and therefore our actions. Another way is to simply write three sentences every night answering these three questions: What moved me? What surprised me? What inspired me? Full disclosure, I haven’t done either of these things yet, but I am going to try them. Soon. I promise.
However, as I constantly have to remind myself, this is a journey. I’m always going to be a work in progress. Maybe that’s why I jump into so many things with such passion but then they seem to fade away, like my hard core workout program and being vegan. I have always felt a little ashamed about this. As though my passion was only surface and this is evidence that I am a somewhat unreliable person, always moving from one thing to the next. But what if that isn’t true? What if instead of being brief lived passions they are stepping stones? What if my time being vegan served its purpose and opened the doors or paved the way for the next thing? What if instead of saying I get really enthused about something and then lose interest, I say I jump in and allow myself to become filled with all that one thing has to offer and then after saturating myself, I take what is valuable to me and jump to the next one thing? I am not giving up, or losing interest, I am growing. Can I hold onto that?
Maybe that is part of the appeal of the ninety day challenge. It has an end point. It is a beginning and I can reuse it, but I don’t have to. Or I can use it how I want. That’s a hard one for me, because I feel as though if I don’t do it exactly then I am failing. I have to work on that. For now I am working on being over fifty and trying to be okay with what I see in the mirror and who I am in life. Small words that have so many big emotions and thoughts. So I am hoping that small changes in my behaviour and my thoughts help bring big changes in my feelings and self image. For today, I am going to do my workout and try to live in the idea of abundance, gratitude and grace.
And maybe some wine. I mean, it’s Saturday and I’m not a saint.