Pondering DIScouragement and The Well-Worn Path

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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

Dis-

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.

xoxoxoxoxoxoxox

Comments box:

15 thoughts on “Pondering DIScouragement and The Well-Worn Path

  1. Sue

    Oh wow, Laurie; so much to ponder here. I love the part about having a choice. I suppose it is a good first step to recognise we have a choice, and then to make it and enjoy it. Sometimes I have been known to actually verbalise this out loud e.g. “Do you really want that? Will a little bit satisfy? Why do you want it? My main problems with eating come when I eat mindlessly (as discussed in many previous episodes).

    The part about the DIScouragement is so important, especially for those of us who are prone to perfectionism. I guess we need to build our resilience muscle when setbacks occur. Maybe we take them all very personally and as an opportunity to berate ourselves.

    I’m having an interesting journey through grief. Some days it is on my mind a lot. Other times other life events dominate. (We are trying to sell our house so we can move to Scotland). I have decided that it is ok for both to happen and not judge which is better. On the days or moments when the grief hits I try and feel it to the full rather than adopt some sort of distraction (or at least find a time shortly after when I can process the feelings). I wonder if the times of business with other things can be a welcome break from the intensity of it all.

    Hugs to you, and thanks for an interesting blog.

    Reply
    1. Mary S

      I’ve started to wonder… Do many perfectionists try to not feel feelings? Is there some kind of common thing there? Because I do it a lot. I’m glad you are allowing yourself to feel them, Sue. It’s so healthy. Xoxo

      Reply
      1. Rabbit

        As a daughter and granddaughter of long line of perfectionists I’m pretty confident in saying that they suppress their feelings, possible they may let them out in a private location, but they have extremely rare occasion of allowing themselves or others in their control sphere show emotions openly.

        Reply
        1. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

          Hi Rabbit, I agree that many of us learned perfectionism as a way of protection from our families, It’s tough to look outside the emotional box when it feels so usual inside it! Thanks again, and don’t worry about typos. If you do as you did and let me know, I’ll change it to what you intended. xoxoxoxoxox

          Reply
    2. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

      First of all, BIG, BIG hugs for you Sister,

      I’m having an interesting journey through grief. Some days it is on my mind a lot. Other times other life events dominate. (We are trying to sell our house so we can move to Scotland). I have decided that it is ok for both to happen and not judge which is better. On the days or moments when the grief hits I try and feel it to the full rather than adopt some sort of distraction (or at least find a time shortly after when I can process the feelings). I wonder if the times of business with other things can be a welcome break from the intensity of it all.

      I feel that wave of grief too. Some days calm floating in gentle swells, other days almost pulled under from the current, other days buffeted by storms. I think it is SO cool that you will go to Scotland. That’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit – so I will look forward to hearing more about your adventures and maybe some pics?

      Resilience is probably the greatest predictor of success in anything. If all was easy all of the time, we would have no sense of accomplishment and I think we would also be bored out of our skulls 😉 Of course, some days I might enjoy a little boredom now and again — However, I think that learning to pick ourselves up after disappointment, unexpected knocks and setbacks is what gives us confidence to take risk and to be brave. So in a way, those setbacks are nothing more than training partners for our characters. Hmmmm. Good thought that, I’m going to give it a go today to let that sink in.

      Thanks for your thoughts and comments, they make me feel less alone and also give me good ideas to ponder. xoxoxoxoxoxoxox

      Reply
  2. Mary S

    Gillian Riley talks a lot about choice. You summed up some of what she says perfectly. Now when I soothe with food, I recognize it . SHOOT! That’s a big step when in the past I did it without stopping to realize. Baby steps, progress not perfection. I keep saying that daily.

    I like what you say about what happened, happened. It’s about grace. And sometimes it is what it is. And it’s best to not let a setback set you even further back. I like when Carolyn Dube (artist) says she made an Oops… Outstanding Opportunity presenting suddenly. It applies to life, too.

    I loved the quote “We don’t trust ourselves and if we need something, we see it as selfish.” Yesterday I decided to just let myself be sad and stop telling myself to get over it. Same today. It feels weird, but I think that’s because I’m allowing myself to work thru the feelings instead of telling myself to cut it out and shut up. Selfish. It’s so true. I do see myself that way currently, but every once in awhile someone comes along and reassures me times are tough for me right now… And I wake up and view myself from their shoes and think… Hey!! You’re right!! Why am I beating myself up??? So I like that line for these reasons.

    Love the post. Love what you do with the blog and podcast. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

      That is soooo cool Mary,

      I decided to just let myself be sad and stop telling myself to get over it. Same today. It feels weird, but I think that’s because I’m allowing myself to work thru the feelings instead of telling myself to cut it out and shut up.

      AND I think it is one of the most important things we can do – to take back our innate right to feel what we DO feel, instead of suppressing those feelings out of fear or shame or inconvenience to others. I know that I used to really eat a ton of anger. And my anger usually covered up hurt. And I would feel badly for having those negative feelings and then I would eat to punish myself as well as to block the painful feelings. So part of my journey has been to learn that it is ok for me to have all the rainbow of available feelings. Now what I actually DO with them, or what I might choose to say to others in reaction, that might take some thought and care, but I am free to feel what I like. I have to accept that I am human and can never, ever be perfect enough not to disappoint others, or to step on toes or to be perceived in a negative light. No human can. Somehow I learned that I was so naturally wrong, that I strove for perfection to protect myself. It has taken years and years for me (and therapy) to realize that we are all flawed as well as wonderful in so many ways. And I still struggle, but it has gotten much easier to be easier on myself. And when I am, I do better in my day to day life as well as with my eating.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments and for the chance to think these things through. xoxoxoxox

      Reply
  3. Dawny

    “It’s choice not chance that determines your destiny”- Jeanne nidetch

    I believe this indeed

    I agree we need body/mind/soul kindness.
    I always appreciate strolls thru your mind Laurie I resignate so well with your thinking.

    Reply
    1. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

      Thanks for the quote Dawny!

      “It’s choice not chance that determines your destiny”- Jeanne nidetch

      I remember this from my time with WeightWatchers and it still resonates with me today. Ms. Nidetch was a pioneer in the power of community and self determination. I think that is why I did well with WW. I loved getting to know all of the people in the room and knowing I was not alone – and feeling that I had a framework of choice. (Of course hated the required liver back in the day 😉 ) xoxoxoxox

      Reply
  4. Jo

    Oh the habit versus reality debate raises its head again! Great blog post with lots to think about and be mindful of.
    Thanks Laurie and BCs for giving me so much “food” for thought
    Jo

    Reply

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