Over the past few months, I’ve gotten many comments on my appearance – OMG you lost weight! You look great. You’re like a different person.
That got me thinking. Maybe I have been eating healthier (going gluten free because of a medical conditional probably helped). Maybe the yoga is working. Or maybe the info from all the books I’ve been reading have slowly integrated into daily life.
The truth is I look great because I feel great (most of the time, anyways). My realization is that there is a huge correlation between your Mind, Body and Soul. When there is homeostasis and alignment, it will reflect outwardly. The secret is in letting go of expectations and realizing that you are more than what is happening to you. True happiness exists in the mind. The rest will follow.
It has been slow and steady growth, like planting seeds in the spring to reap harvest months later in the season.
Except in my reality it has been years – something like 3 to 5 before I could process any sort of result. You won’t see results immediately and anything promising you otherwise is misleading. For example: from the beginning of my journey to the present, I have lost a total of 40lbs (which is a lot for someone who is 5’1’’). It took me 2 years to lose the first 5!!! But then the next month, another 5…and another…and another.
I struggled with anxiety, depression, weight and body image issues and feelings of powerlessness. In those moments, I couldn’t even register that I was experiencing all that. I was self destructive and numb, self soothing with alcohol, drugs, overworking, binge eating and retail therapy. Call it what you will (survival tactics, ego, self preservation), these were my coping mechanisms of choice and I was stuck in a cycle of unconscious self hatred.
The largest hurdle has been my own mind. Negative self talk, doubts, resistance. All these things consumed me. It was suffocating and felt like a heavy cloud decided to roll in and stay. Trapped, with no winds strong enough to blow it away.
At one point, I decided that something had to change. I wasn’t happy and realized I was the only one that could do something about it. No one was coming to save me and I was desperate to live a life I loved. Like all of those images on Pinterest or Instagram where you could FEEL that joy and happiness.
So I started small. Adjusting my eating habits. Cleaning things up (physically, emotionally and mentally). Saying ‘no’ to situations I didn’t really want to be in (and ignoring the voices in my head telling me that all my friends will hate me if I don’t go drinking for the third night a row. They won’t. And if they do, they aren’t being good friends.) Saying ‘yes’ to new experiences.
There was a lot of loss at the beginning. Human beings are social creatures and I felt the cravings. I felt so lonely, isolated and ostracized. Trapped and confronted with nothing except my own thoughts. Explaining myself was exhausting because I wasn’t even sure where I was going or what I was doing.
Persistence is key. It’s like updating a computer software system. When you upgrade to the newest version, you have to surrender the current one. Download new thoughts, habits and perspectives. Get to learn the new updates that came with it. You have to constantly learn about who you are now.
I spend more time alone, reading, writing, creating. Yoga. Meditation. Dancing like a maniac in my pajamas. Crafting meals with intention and care. Taking myself to places or see things instead of waiting for someone to accompany me. The quantity of my social experiences definitely decreased but the quality of them has increased exponentially. This will be different for everyone. I do things that I enjoy – taking some advice from Hannah Bronfman’s book “Do What Feels Good”.
Those Negative Nancys in my head? Still there, however now relegated to the peanut gallery where I kindly ask them to take a seat and pipe down. Forgot to go to the gym today? Don’t punish or blame yourself. Need a restorative cat nap instead of doing laundry? Go for it. Tell the haters in your mind to back off.
The only commitment I believe we should have is to happiness, loving kindness and finding things that ‘spark joy’ (thanks Marie Kondo). You create your own reality. Wouldn’t you rather live in one where you have enthusiasm and excitement?
Spirituality is such a personal topic. Find something to believe in. I’m not saying you have to join a church or anything. Believe in the goodness in others. Believe in the beauty of nature. Believe in yourself. Be your own cheerleader. Just find something that you can draw strength from when the going gets tough. Giving up means giving in.
I am so grateful for the lessons and challenges I have encountered and overcome so far. I know that the human experience is filled with contrast and that my thoughts reflect that. If I miss the train, I can spend my whole morning worrying or upset. Or I can see what lessons or messages that experience is showing me. (Give myself more time. Learn patience.) I am more aware of what I choose to think and experience. That is the power of free will.
My dreams, goals and aspirations are being dusted off. Like finding a bicycle in storage, greasing up the gears so you can ride it again. Even if you know how to ride that bike, chances are you’ll fall down once or twice in all the trips you’ll take. So instead of kicking it and never riding again, get up, dust yourself off, tend to your wounds and get back on.
Feeling free. So free and perfectly imperfect.