Bringing Fascination to Our Frustrating Habits

We often attempt to deal with our frustrating habits through guilt, secrecy, and misery.

Today I’m experimenting with a different approach, dealing with frustrating habits through fascination.

I will use my habit of overeating as an example.  I feel that I eat until I’m beyond full at least once a day.

I’m fascinated because I keep doing the same thing over and over again.

A week ago, I walked to a local diner, had a Mexican scramble and even an extra tortilla and I was full and satisfied.  Then, I arrived home and felt I deserved desert.  So, I ate this peanut butter chocolate and peanut mix, which I recently discovered that I could buy in bulk. After dipping my hand in the plastic bag holding the mix too many times, I felt Beyond Full.

I’m fascinated because I keep doing the same thing over and over again.

Tonight, just before beginning to type this blog, wouldn’t you know it, déjà vu!  I had just woken up from a nap.  I knew even before my feet even hit the carpet that I was full.  However, I had the thought that I had just purchased a fresh bag of that peanut butter chocolaty stuff.  And pretty soon, I was dipping my hand into the bag over and over again, while I sat in front of the computer thinking about what I was going to blog about.  Now once again I feel Beyond Full.

And yes, you got it.   I’m fascinated because I keep doing the same thing over and over again.

Part of me thinks that it would be nice if there were a gauge that would tell me when I was full, before I crossed into the Bloated-Feeling Land of Beyond Full.  And I guess there is.  The General Solution to my daily over-eating is counting calories or even more simply paying attention to when my body is telling me enough is enough.

I’m fascinated that I know exactly how to release myself from this habit, but still make the decision to do the same thing over and over again.

As you might imagine, I have told very few people about this fascinating and frustrating habit of mine.  (Well, I guess that is until now.)  I have kept this secret close to the belt, (Ha! Ha!) because, well, it is more than somewhat uncool and really down-right awkward to go around telling people that I feel that I over-eat on an almost daily basis.

I’m fascinated that I’m telling you all of this.

My hope is that being fascinated with my frustrating habit of over-eating will create something other than the cycle of guilt and secrecy that has surrounded this habit.  (Well, definitely the secrecy that has surrounded the bulk peanut butter chocolaty thing that I eat is no more).

(Please keep in mind that this fascination approach to dealing with frustrating habits is just an experiment I came up with tonight and is not meant to replace other approaches to dealing with habits and addictions.)

 Game of the Day

1.  Do you have a frustrating habit that you are dealing through guilt and secrecy?

Each time you chose to participate in this habit say, “I’m fascinated because I keep doing the same thing over and over again.”

2.  What would be the general solution to your frustrating habit?  Write down the general solution to your frustrating habit.  Then say, “I’m fascinated that I know exactly how to release myself from this habit, but still make the decision to do the same thing over and over again.”

3.  Tell someone or even better multiple people about your frustrating habit.  Then say, “I’m fascinated that I’m telling you all of this.”

4.   How does this approach of fascination with your frustrating habit work for you?

5.   What happens to the guilt, secrecy and misery that you feel around your habit?

Our Magnificent Bodies

We know confidence is attractive to our spouse, our significant other, or, if we are single, to potential dating partners.  In The Joy Factor, Susan Smith Jones writes, “Living our best life means appreciating our magnificent bodies.”

Unfortunately for me and countless other men and woman this can be a daunting task.  We think of our physical bodies and too often instantly become experts in identifying our limitations.  We put ourselves through the wringer of self-critique and feel the exact opposite of attractive.

In Notes on the Need for Beauty, J. Ruth Gendler writes “Beauty [or handsomeness] becomes a forbidden quality because most of us feel it can’t belong to us…. often we are blocked from experiencing [our] beauty by feelings of shame and ugliness.”

Our minds interpret the bodies we see in the mirror.  This means we all could have the absolutely gorgeous bodies, but if our minds don’t allow us to be beautiful or handsome, we will never experience ourselves as beautiful or handsome.  Mirrors may not lie, but our minds definitely create interpretations of what we see in the mirror.

For years I looked in the mirror and interpreted what I saw as disability.  Just like I have a nose and ten fingers, it’s true that I’m less coordinated than many people and that my voice is at times harder to understand than the voices of most people.

But the concept that I was disabled and therefore less lovable had nothing to do with the reflection I was seeing in the mirror.  My “disability” had everything to do with a painful story I was making up in my head.  When I said I was disabled, I was authentically expressing a story in my head, but definitely not authentically “appreciating my magnificent body.”

The same can be said about ideal body weight.  There’s a multitude of websites having to do with ideal body weight.  We may be over or under the weight we are quoted on these sites.  This figure simply reflects how our body weight fits into the tables on the websites.  However, we sometimes use this figure to say we do not have magnificent bodies.  This assessment is a painful story created in our heads.

When I heard, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” I always interpreted this phrase as meaning I should look for a woman who would find me stunningly handsome and sexy.  So for most of my life I have been on an epic search for this woman.

What I overlooked is that I’m the initial beholder of my own beauty.  It is highly helpful to be able to recognize my own beauty first, so I can pass this recognition on to others through my ease and confidence.

How do we become powerful first beholders of our own beauty?  Maybe a place to begin is by consciously using exciting, invigorating and refreshing language to think and talk about our bodies. Whenever that old, familiar refrain of body image doubt enters your mind, say to yourself and to others, “I’m magnificent,” or “I’m amazingly beautiful” or “I’m incredibly handsome” or go for the gold and declare, “I’m Hot AND Sexy.”

This way of thinking and speaking may well feel uncomfortable and even embarrassing at first.  We have often been used to authentically expressing the painful stories about our bodies that we created in our heads.

For a change, why not try speaking in a way that you authentically appreciate your magnificent body.

You and I are our own first beholders.  We have the power to celebrate, honor and rejoice in the bodies we see in the mirror.

 Game of the Day

Whenever that old, familiar refrain of body image doubt enters your mind, say to yourself and to others, “I’m magnificent,” or “I’m amazingly beautiful” or “I’m incredibly handsome” or go for the gold and declare, “I’m Hot AND Sexy.”

Find an Exercise Routine You Love!

For the last several years, the White Coat Ceremony at which the first year medical students at the University of South Dakota commence their training has begun with a musical selection entitled “Starting From Here.”  The motivational title of the piece is taken from the title of one of my father’s fine books of poetry.

I am struck by how we all have the opportunity to embark on a journey towards our own wellness and happiness by “Starting From Here,” by starting from whatever moment we are at.

Just as the med students will be endeavoring to understand how to make the human body well, we can come to understand how to proactively create wellness in our own bodies by discovering and engaging in exercise routines that we love.

Like a beginning medical student studying, the more consistent we are in our exercise routines, the more our efforts will pay off.  I find this consistency isn’t always easy.  Take yesterday morning for instance.  The alarm went off at 6:45AM and I did not want to get up and go to Leela’s yoga class at nine, even though I absolutely love Leela’s class.  Against my wishes to sleep, I finally got up and made it to class in plenty of time.  Half-way through the class, I was so grateful that I decided to come and couldn’t imagine what my day would have been like if I slept in and missed class.

I relay this bit of my life to you to emphasize the importance of finding physical activities that you love to do.  If I had planned to do some type of exercise that didn’t appeal to me yesterday at nine, I would have probably shut my alarm off at 6:45 AM and stayed in bed.

Exercise has been a major part of my life for many years, but not because it is something I force myself to do to burn calories or stay in shape. Rather, I have found exercise activities that I love to engage in.  For years, I was into walking long distances, and now I go to a yoga class everyday that I can.

I am drawn to these physical activities time and time again not because I feel I have to do them but because I love to do them.

A willingness to return to an exercise time and time again is important because the benefits of an exercise accumulate.  For example, if you start out running a half-mile and add another half-mile on each day, within about a year you will be running the distance of a marathon.  Isn’t that cool?  Whereas if a person runs a half-mile one-day, adds another half-mile the next and then quits on the third because he or she really can’t stand running, the benefits of the exercise hardly have time to accumulate.

“Starting From Here,” why not embark on an exploration to find more physical activities that really turn you on?  If you love your current exercise routine, use this exploration to find new activities to possibly add to you routine or to engage in once and awhile.  If you don’t have an exercise routine or are stuck in a rut with your current routine, try a variety of new physical activities until you find the ones that will get you out of bed at 6:45 AM, those mornings when you really want to roll over and tell you alarm to get lost.

 Game of the Day

Part One- List three physical activities (anything from walking, to machines at the gym, to exercise classes to competitive sports) that you feel you might enjoy.

Part Two– Schedule times in your calendar to try each of these three activities.

Part Three– Have fun exploring and finding an exercise routine you love!