I have many deep and real conversations with my clients, my family and my friends. Today’s blog post is born out of some of those conversations.
If you’ve ever tried changing your diet, then you know that it’s a bit like waging war with a sorceress. Your brain knows what and when you should eat, but there is a temptress lurking in your moments of weakness, telling you lies about what will make you feel better right now.
Perhaps you’ve defeated that sorceress and you’ve made it into the clear. If you have been victorious, you know that you won not because you learned to ignore the temptress, but because you started to see her yummy promises as lies. Her offers of sweet freedom and comfortable fullness began to appear rotted and bloated to you.
I think this analogy works for a lot of things. Getting free of a harmful habit or attitude can’t just be about behaviour modification; it has to be about exposing the true root of your attraction to that particular thing.
Here’s a personal example. I have been an anxious person all of my life. I went to school sick to my stomach every single day, both as a student and as a teacher. Sometimes, I wake up and the anxiety descends and settles in, even though I can’t figure out what is causing it. It’s pretty annoying, both for me and my family, because it affects my moods and interactions.
There are a lot of ways to deal with anxiety and no shortage of people who will give you advice or medication to free you of it. When I started to dig into those I options I realized something: I don’t actually want to be free of my anxiety.
I have always used my anxiety as motivation. I would worry if I wasn’t anxious about something because it meant that I probably wouldn’t prepare properly. My response to anxiety was to dig into a task. The more I prepared, the less anxious I became and the beautiful side-effect was that I excelled at whatever I was doing. In essence, anxiety was my temptress.
And I definitely gave into her tempting lies. I let anxiety dictate my moods and affect my closest relationships because it was giving me a gorgeous dopamine hit. If I was anxious, I would have the motivation to control everything in my life (to over-prepare), which would give me a little upper. This vicious little cycle has just enough positive feedback to make me ignore the negative side-effects that come with being a control freak.
So, if I really want to solve my anxiety problem, then perhaps I need to figure out a new motivating force – something more nourishing than the little treats I’m getting from my anxiety cycle. I won’t be able to solve my problem with breathing techniques or medication – I’ll have to dig a lot deeper, expose the sorceress’ lies, and stop being content with the shallow rewards I’ve accepted until now.
This may resonate with some of you. If you see repeating cycles in your own life, maybe you’re just not digging deeply enough. If you have the courage, you may want to grab a shovel – both to wack the temptress in the face and to expose the roots of your hang-up.
I am so excited to share this beautiful lady’s photos. M is a very sweet person and though she has her insecurities like everyone else, she also has quiet strength and confidence. You’ll see that in her pictures!