When you put in that effort to get to find yourself, accepting the good and not so good and reflect on what has lead you to this very moment- it’s freedom.
Connection; it’s what fuels us. Those connections to various people and places is what we lean on, turn to when we are lonely or wanting to feel joy. Connections comfort, support and remind you that you belong and are part of something bigger. Everyone seeks out connections in unique ways in their life, ranging from small scale things like going to the same cashier at the grocery store to large scale things like leading a monthly retreat.
Seeking out and cultivating those connections with family, religion, fitness regimes, work communities or social groups are undoubtedly essential in living a well-balanced life. But the most crucial connection, one that seems to not get the time and attention it needs, is the one to yourself. While engaging in these various external outlets may temporally bring us happiness, contentment and fulfillment, it’s when we are alone with our thoughts or return to our everyday environment that we regress to feeling lonely, sad or empty. This can be confusing because we start shaming or telling ourselves false truths, questioning how we could feel this way when we just felt so good having participated in A, B or C.
Karen, a current client of mine, came to me with one of the most common goals set by people; to lose weight. She explained that 6 months ago she hired a personal trainer to work out with once a week. She started seeing a nutritionist once a month to plan for healthier meals. She joined various health and wellness avenues to support her goal of wanting to have a lower number on the scale.
Initially, she said she lost weight which made her feel great. She felt confident she was finally on the right path and this could actually be the last diet she would have to start. Then, as life continued, familiar obstacles and realities surfaced, which were completely unrelated to weight loss. Shaming thoughts or old behaviors started to interfere despite Karen having put into place external supportive connections and she started to gain weight. As she added another weight loss failure to her diet list, it again reaffirmed her negative thoughts that she didn’t have the will power, the ability, the strength like those who are fit or have lost weight.
Like Karen, many times when people start on a weight loss journey they target only the physical elements to losing weight. To not include the emotional, mental aspect of a person’s relationship with food greatly contributes to why the weight loss industry is a billion-dollar industry. That exclusion enforces the yo-yo dieting culture which unfortunately also continues to build on a person’s unhealthy emotional views which are keeping them from reaching their goals. These false truths are incredibly powerful.
The good news is, mindfulness is equally as powerful. Thought patterns and experiences to certain life experiences many times are the dots that need connecting for someone to understand their relationship with food. And the revelation that it has nothing to do with them being lazy or unmotivated, but rather reasons that are not black and white and exploring the grey made all the difference.
When you don’t take the time to find yourself, work through any mental roadblocks- many of which you may not even realize- you continually set yourself up to feel that emptiness and let down after being on that temporary connected high with the activities and people you turn to fill that need to connect. You cannot put the responsibility on outside people, places or things to fill our voids or do the work of connecting with ourselves. When you put in that effort to get to know yourself, accepting the good and not so good and reflect on what has lead you to this very moment- its freedom.
In finding that freedom, sometimes seeking some extra support helps in that process. Having someone offer some insight, help develop or redefine some tools that can lead you to a more fulfilling sense of where you’ve been, where you are and where you want to go. Just like in deciding to sign up for a 5k, joining a book club or have family over for dinner; invest the same effort and excitement by making it a priority to find yourself.