Posted by Jill Whalen | Posted in Healthy Activities, Healthy Eating, Things I've Learned, Thought | Posted on 05-04-2016
Tags: 3 Principles, Anxiety, Transformation, Wellbeing
[Jill’s Note: If you prefer to listen rather than read, please scroll to the bottom of this post for the audio version.]
This past Sunday (May 1, 2016) marked 3 years since I began my transformational journey. What started as a simple decision to lose weight, has culminated in a whole new me–both physically and mentally.
Here’s a recap:
I realized for a few years that I was overweight and that if I didn’t eventually do something about it, I’d have much bigger problems on my hands. But I also knew I had to be truly ready if I wanted to be successful. I finally made my decision to get started on May 1, 2013. Over the next 6 months, I lost the 25 lbs I had set out to lose without it seeming like “hard work.” In fact, I found it a fun challenge.
You see, anyone can lose weight. But because I had disdain for the word “diet,” I framed what I was doing as a lifestyle change. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that label made healthy eating and regular exercise a way of life. Which is what made the whole experience effortless.
It just made sense for me to live as I do.
But it also made sense for me to live the way I used to live. In looking back at my old lifestyle, it’s easy for me to see how I had gotten myself overweight. Like all human beings, I was simply following my innate need to feel good by whatever means possible.
If that sounds strange or hedonistic to you, take a look at babies. They are generally happy unless they’re hungry, tired, need a diaper change or otherwise feeling uncomfortable. Because they want to get back to their happy state, they’ll cry until something is done about their discomfort. They don’t think, “I better cry in order to get some attention,” it’s simply built into their system.
In other words, it’s pre-programmed into us to do whatever it takes to get back to feeling good.
As adults, we’re no different. The problem is that along with needing our basic physical needs met, over time we’ve built up all sorts of psychological needs we want to have met in order to feel happy. We crave attention and love. We crave peace. And when we don’t feel as if we’re getting them we do anything to attain them.
Through trial and error we learn that we can temporarily feel happy and peaceful through “stuff.” A new car. The latest smartphone. Food. Alcohol. Shopping. Other people. We mindlessly spend our days and nights going from thing-to-thing, person-to-person, drink-to-drink and dessert-to-dessert.
And it works.
Until it doesn’t.
But back to me…
Being a bit of a perfectionist, I was a master at making myself feel better. I was never one to hold onto anger, nor did I ever feel depressed. In fact, I felt happy most of the time. Why wouldn’t I. I ate what I wanted, drank enough to keep the edge off, got praise and kudos from my business, had 3 great kids and a good husband. Generally, not a lot to complain about.
But the joke was on me!
While I had all those things and they were great, I didn’t realize how much of life I was missing. I was so consumed with myself and trying to feel good that I barely noticed anything going on around me. The beauty of nature? Pfft. You’ve seen one tree you’ve seen ’em all. The ocean? LOL…it’s just water for crying out loud! They could have built a new house in my neighborhood and I probably wouldn’t have noticed.
But it wasn’t just the world around me that I wasn’t paying attention to. I had no idea of what was going on inside either. What was it that was making me feel so bad that I had to constantly seek peace? It wasn’t until about a year and a half into my journey that I discovered what I had been doing and why. When I finally got the courage to look behind the curtain in my mind, what I saw wasn’t pretty…
There was a steady stream of anxiety passing through.
While I always knew I was shy, introverted and at times anxious, I had no idea how pervasive my anxiety was. No wonder I had to live in my own little (safe) world. No wonder I needed constant praise. No wonder I needed to take the edge off of life.
I know it seems weird to be unaware of something so glaringly obvious. Yet my robotic, pre-programmed self had done a masterful job of finding a slew of addictive behaviors to keep me from noticing just how scared of life I was.
Once I saw what I had been doing and why (via insight), I had to laugh. At that point I had learned a lot about Thought and how it creates our experience of life. I had also learned that our default state of mind is happiness…aka peace. And that when we let our minds settle down (think of a resting snow globe) the peace we’re seeking is there for the taking.
In other words, underneath that anxious stream of thoughts running through my mind was peace and quiet.
Always there. Always accessible.
Which is hilarious, right?
All those decades, years, months, days, hours and minutes of using the people and stuff in my life to make me feel better so that I could get back to peace–and it was with me all along! Just under the surface. Right beneath the stream of anxiety.
Happiness. Peace. Good Feelings.
There with me (and you) always.
No need to ever seek happiness through others (although I sometimes forget). No need to drink or eat too much to feel better. Why find temporary solutions with a short lifespan, when there’s a permanent one at my fingertips always and forever?
So thank you, “Old Jill” who finally summoned up the courage to take back her life 3 years ago. Consciously you had no idea where it would lead and who you’d become. Perhaps there was some inner Knowing that it was the start of something incredible. Perhaps not. Either way, the book of my life has been rewritten. And I can’t wait for the next chapter to emerge!
Prefer listening? Click the green arrow below!