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Distinguishing Between What You Say You Want and What You Actually Have

In honor of New Year's Resolutions, and the inevitable wavering and ultimate failing of those resolutions (has anyone anywhere ever actually kept a resolution?), I thought I'd share a little insight that might have you relax and ungrip a little about having to achieve all those resolutions by February. Or even achieve them at all.

We all have these expressed wants or desires, or what I call top line "commitments", that take up mental real estate and dictate how we think we want to live and choices we want to make from day to day. These are the things we tell ourselves this is what we want, that it's what we should be striving for. When we fail to meet these ideals, we beat ourselves up, continue to mentally hold ourselves to that standard and continue to hate ourselves for never actually attaining those top line things we say we want.

I have the word commitment in quotation marks because even though it is what we say we want, there isn't an actual dedicated commitment that is backed by choice to get us those expressed commitments.

For a very long time my top line "commitments" were:

  • If only I could lose 30 pounds and be thin

  • I really need a flat stomach

  • I should work out 30 minutes every single day

  • I have to stop eating carbs

  • I need to have more control, discipline and suck it up

But here's where things are really interesting. With the list previous list of top line commitments, there was mucho unconscious, or bottom line, commitments happening. And once I uncovered those and came to understand them, they suddenly didn't run me anymore- and my top line commitments changed.

Through much soul searching, awareness and mindfulness practices and YEARS of inner struggle, I finally came to realize that having a flat stomach and losing weight actually wasn't a real desire of mine- it was a capitulated, regurgitated ideal born of a lot of self judgment, criticism because I didn't match the external status quo ideas of what we've been fed that attractive and healthy looked like. I had so fully consumed the brainwashing that I needed to look a certain way to be happy, healthy and in a good relationship that I'd tortured myself for 2 decades trying to be different. That's 20 years I wasted believing I was wrong for how I looked and I should be thinner.

All the while, I had unconscious, bottom line commitments that kept me from these things I said I wanted. Rather than achieving the external ideal of thin, I was more committed to actually enjoying food, finding pleasure in my day to day life (versus being a militant, rigid disciplinarian with exercise and eating) and seeking a way of life that had me understand myself rather than exert control over myself.

And THANK GOD I was unconsciously committed to those things, because what it brought me was a deeper relationship with the divine, with my own soul and an understanding of our primal human relationship with food than being thin and abstaining from carbs ever could have.

While your story might not be like mine, the invitation is the same: begin getting curious about the disconnect between what you say you want and what you actually have. This isn't an exercise in continued self flagellation, it's just a healthy look at how you operate so you can know yourself better and live in such a way that the you don't have to beat yourself up, or try and motivate yourself to do the things you think you want, but aren't actually really that committed to.

The most sustainable, comprehensive health doesn't come from beating ourselves up or trying to fit ourselves into someone else's prescription of what we should look like, eat like, act like. It comes from really knowing ourself, understanding our behaviors and making choices about our health and happiness from that place of eyes wide open understanding and awareness.

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