Sometimes the well-worn path can be a good thing.
Do you ever take words for granted?
After listening to last week’s episode, it struck me how the meaning of the word ‘discourage’ is really all about whether or not we have courage. So I looked up the entry of its prefix DIS on Dictionary.com
a Latin prefix meaning “apart,” “asunder,” “away,” “utterly,” or having a privative, negative, or reversing force
So if dis reverses its main word then DISinterest is the same as not having interest, DISbelief is the same as not having belief, and DIScourage is then not having courage.
Why Laurie is this English lesson helpful?
Because I think for many of us, bumps in the road cause us to embrace discouragement without examining its true meaning and we give up on ourselves, our dreams and our goals. Being discouraged can turn into an automatic avoidance of risk. If we assume we will fail, and we assume it won’t matter, then it is hard to take action. We don’t like how it feels to fail, who would? And it is true we cannot control the results of our actions, but we can 100% control our courage to take action.
What do you mean I can control my courage?
You don’t have to be perfect, great, talented, wonderful or any of that to be brave. All it takes is the decision to be true to you and do something about it.
Do you have an example?
It’s about self-perception. Let’s say I need to get weighed and I discover my weight is up. I might feel discouraged, as that is what feels normal. And if I allow discouragement to take hold, losing my courage gives me reason to give up on my plan – be it intuitive eating, or a personal goal of eating more veggies or some other method. And honestly, for those first few moments of giving up, it feels great. It’s a relief. It’s a mental vacation. It reinforces the reward of walking the well-worn path. Change can be difficult and mentally challenging. So why continue?
For most of my life I would only go back to my diet plan because of fear. The fear that I would never fit in, never be loved, never be part of the normal crowd as a fat person. I was reacting to an external idea.
I would then go back on my diet with hope. I would go back with determination. This time I would do it. I would be filled with courage, like the knights of old charging off to slay the wicked dragon.
Then old habits, emotions, or justifications would come around, as they always do for me, and I would step off whatever path I was on. My armor would be dented. I would be feeble and it would be plain to all, including me, that I was no champion. And that feeling of well-worn failure would trigger me to fall back into the arms of robot aliens.
Hmmmm. Putting on armor was like a costume. I rode out with my good intentions knowing that these intentions were not from me. I rode out on paths I THOUGHT I should take in order to slay my dragon. And when I did not, I lost my courage.
So what can we do to keep our courage?
This tussle between giving in to discouragement and keeping my courage rings true with things in my life other than food too. From learning to be a teacher, to acting, to keeping my house in order.
I find myself not trusting myself and looking for tips, tricks, methods or teachers to show me the way.
Now, there is nothing wrong with getting feedback and learning from others, it’s often a very valuable way to progress.
But when we allow the opinions of others to dictate our hearts, it is very hard to have true courage. I believe courage comes from within and fostering ways to listen to our own hearts is how we become more brave.
I think part of why we with eating issues are so prone to people pleasing comes from not believing our own hearts are worthy as is. We don’t trust ourselves and if we need something, we see it as selfish. But our hearts are part of that still small voice that speaks to us.
Learning to Recognize True Inner Bravery
Bravery isn’t loud. It isn’t showy. It is certain. When we feel what’s right with certainty, then taking that action fills us with self-pride and love, even if the action seems to fail and our usual course is to let that DIScourage us. Even if in another situation our certainty changes course.
As an eating example: Do you really want cake? Or do you want to celebrate and be part of the crowd? Do you really want chips? Or do you want distraction? Do you truly enjoy popcorn at the movies or is it a habit? The brave thing is to allow yourself to know and then make a choice. Either way. If you are certain that choosing popcorn will give you joy in that moment, then enjoy the choice. If it is a habit, and you are certain that regret will follow, enjoy the choice to abstain this time.
But what if I’m NOT certain?
That’s where we fall on the well-worn path. Many times in all of my diet/binge career, I have eaten mindlessly or in response to social cues. Also in response to negative emotions. This is my well worn path.
Can we make a new path?
Yes! Every time we make a choice we are building a new well-worn path to fall back on. The tricky part for me making a new path with intuitive eating is that there can be times when I really do want the food as food, and times when I am falling into habits and discouragement. I have gone on vacation and eaten some items that normally I would not, yet felt fine about it. I have also had amounts of the same thing after an emotional disappointment and felt like the biggest failure on the planet.
It is all about how I interpret the choice – and NOT choosing is a choice.
That’s why I think it is important to not be DIScouraged. We do not have to let any event, eating or otherwise, take our inner courage from us. For example, If I don’t like the result of my action, if I bravely allow myself to really understand why, then I can adjust. If it is too painful, and chips feel like a better answer than self-awareness, than I remain stuck until which time I can see my behavior for what it is.
And to make it even tricker, sometimes Discouragement can feel like a blessing
Sometimes it IS too painful. My grieving for the loss of my mom was that way. I couldn’t handle all of the emotions, so distracting with food and worry about weight gain was an awesome well-worn path. Did it make my mom come back to life? No. Did it change any interaction I had ever had with her? No. Did it help me push thinking or feeling too much away? Yes.
Right or wrong, I needed time and space away. Looking back, I wish maybe I had chosen another method – like a grief support group, or journaling or something, but at that time, what happened, happened.
I can’t change that past, but I won’t let it rob me of my courage. And I’m glad I’m back now on my well-worn path up the mountain to spend time processing my thoughts with all of you.