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Friday, January 24, 2020

Home to Ourselves

Hello, friends. It's taken me a couple of weeks to get my thoughts and words together on this one. It's definitely the result of lots of FEELINGS that came long before I had any words to explain them.

I don't claim they are GREAT words, or ALL the words I'll ever have, but it's a start. A long start, but a start nonetheless, lol.

--

As I listen to people talk about the new diet they're trying this time
and their new aggressive workout plans they're going to stick to,

as I start to understand the marketing of diets
and how their success rates are studied/reported
(very misleadingly, FYI),
I've started coming back to this thought:

Why do we study and agonize over what diets need of us
but do not even consider what our own bodies and minds need of us?

(I can't even count the times I've heard of starting diets because,
"Oh, that worked for so-and-so," or "This list of foods looks easy enough to get." etc etc)


We need to understand -- we are all so uniquely constructed,
we have very unique requirements for our healthiest being.
Biologically/physiologically/psychologically/culturally/socially


We cannot find our path to our truest, fullest, happiest self
by ONLY following external guidance and expectations.

By ONLY doing what other people have done to support their own uniqueness.

These answers MUST come from within.


But we are so far from ourselves

we don't even know who we are
when we aren't dieting,
or constantly working
or doing everything everyone else asks us to.

Doing ONLY what we think we are expected to do.

--

Now, if you really dig into giant institutions
like religion or capitalism or patriarchy or whatever,
there are some common threads.

They were pretty much all instigated by/supported by/endorsed by
whomever the most well-off people were at the time (dudes, ahem). 
Which, fine. 
They had access to resources, cool cool.

From there, though...

rules determining who is 'deserving/un-deserving'
of success and acceptance 
and entitlement and happiness 
bubble to the surface.

Who is moral/amoral, valid/invalid, worthy/unworthy?


It was decided

we NEED to label each other,
we have to sort everyone into good/bad,
successes/failures,
powerful/weak, etc etc.

I guess to know those things, 

we have to assign good and bad behaviors
to help us know our labels, yeah? 
Maybe not even behaviors, just, like, how someone looks,
or if they are also a man? OK, cool cool.

Religion even goes as far as trying to tell us
how our compliance to our predestined labels
WILL IMPACT US FOR ETERNITY.
Shit, man.

So.


These institutions work as hard as they can to detail these behaviors,
explaining 'good/correct' actions,
or by showing us these 'correct/valid' people via representations in media,

and they just happen to also graciously give us plenty of freedom
to judge the shit out of everyone else who's not playing along
and try to shame them into complying.

The majority of us,
the congregants and participants in these institutions,
we're so busy trying not to fail
that we often cannot see how much the most powerful of us
are just getting more powerful/rich from our fears of judgment, essentially.

We feed their machines,

they control the information that is relayed back to us,
(SOMETIMES CLAIMING THE INFORMATION IS LITERALLY FROM GOD),
they show us heavily curated glimmers of what we could be someday
as long as we follow the rules.

--

Now, you probably know where I'm going with this.

Diet culture is one of those institutions. 

Diet culture says, 

"Hey, here's what deserving bodies/accepted bodies look like,
and here's how you can achieve it.

Just surrender your money and your lives to our cause, and we'll help you."

And goddamn it if we don't go balls to the wall convinced they're right.

[Sidebar, 'dieting' ALSO kinda became a thing as an attempt to control women; if their food was restricted/they ate these specialty products, men thought they'd stay complacent. This idea invented by religious men who happened to also be the people who produced those specific food products. I don't think it was even about thinness, so cool on you, ever-shifting definitions of good bodies. These institutions are SO intertwined; it's ridiculous.]


--

In my yoga studies, in this particular mental state in my life,
I'm reading about this sense of Self.
What is Self? Who is Self? How is Self?

And I know we are not ourselves when we are dieting.
We are not ourselves 

when we just blindly accept what big institutions tell us we should be doing.

The day I realized that, I was just shocked.
The dieting version of me was not Real Me, 

that me that kept food journals
and cried about caving and eating the french fries
and declined invitations
where thought I might be tempted by all the foods I couldn't eat.

The me that is STILL avoiding LIVING my life
because I'm afraid of how I will be judged
for stopping dieting and gaining weight, etc etc.

The me that's now afraid I will be laughed at on airplanes,
the me that doesn't know how to dress myself well anymore.

The me that doesn't feel like she deserves to be a leader or a teacher.


It's not just dieting that really fucks up our sense of self.

Hell, we aren't even living our own authentic life
if we just insist on doing what our friends are doing
so we can say we did that cool thing, too.

Even if we just wanted to stay home.
Even if we didn't have the money to do it.


--

A big part of yoga philosophy is Self-Study.
Really digging into who we are,

and practicing those things that bring us closer to our most truthful being,
our most authentic self.

In our culture, though,

it's a radical act of courage to see what other people are doing and say,
"That's nice for you, but that's not my path."

To see a marketing pitch and say,
"Uh, no way that's for me."

And it's an even greater act of courage and compassion 

to see someone else's path
and recognize that it's THEIR path, not yours,
and finding peace with not following it or judging it.

[No FOMO, OK?!]


--

See, diets are so appealing, though,
because the path to success is very laid out,
easy to read
easy to follow.

Eat these rations of food/nutrients.

Do this amount of exercise.

Here, we'll even send you the food, don't worry about it.

It feels so much easier to default to hating ourselves

and just use these helpful guides to change ourselves.

Much easier than sitting with ourselves and really digging into what we need.
Digging into the truth of why we really are feeling badly about ourselves.

To assign the labels of 'valid' and 'worthy' and 'accepted' to ourselves

on our own terms.

To ask the hard questions,

to come accept the self that likes to be home
and not traveling
and not helping people sometimes
and eating food we like
and...resting.

Because...there's not a book for that, you know?

We can't send a link to a resource that says,
"This path/book/guide details the steps to MY SPECIFIC happiness!"


Because it looks different for everyone.

And those differences defy labels.

Defy the binary.
Defy expectations.

So, we just have to sit with ourselves and figure it out.
We have to figure out without the guidance of pre-determined actions and meals.


And gosh, sometimes that means* 
we are a little bigger than we want to be
and a little less active than we thought we needed to be
and the activity we DO want isn't these dreadful kickboxing classes
and our job is making us miserable
and we actually don't like our friends or family or spouse all that much
and we don't actually like going out drinking that much
or going out at all for that matter
and we don't want kids/actually want kids
and and and

And then it's up to us to proclaim

what will be our path,
what will be our guide.

To say 'yes' to our own Self.


To be our own guide to exist authentically as ourselves

in a world that wants us all in little molds.
In a world that wants us to constantly check in
to make sure we're doing everything the right way,
in a way that can be easily tracked/measured/Instagrammed.

--

Today, I offer to you two assignments:


1) Spend that time with yourself, really assessing how you are spending this existence and see if any of it is FOR yourself. What do you truly want in your heart of hearts?

2) Let other people have their path without feeling threatened by them.

--

At the crux of most philosophical/religious texts,

the message is the same:
Do no harm.

The trick is really recognizing what harmful acts truly look like.
They are a lot more subtle than we think.
And we need to include the harm we do to ourselves in this.

Because this existence is...good grief, just eat the french fries, you know?

Our lives aren't meant to be spent in this much pain over such stupid shit.

I think that's it, lol.

Love,
C McG

*The list of things we realize about ourselves is just a list of things that COULD come up in people; not things that have necessarily come up for me. Just in case anyone is getting ready to message me asking me a bunch of 'are you and hubby OK?' things, ha.


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