A few days ago, I hopped on the phone with Robin, the integrative nutrition health coach I’ve been working with for the past few months.
We normally check in on Fridays, but I requested to chat earlier in the week because I’ve been feeling off for about a week or so.
I’ve been tired and low energy, skipped my workouts on Monday and Tuesday (unlike me!), and started impulsively eating things at the office or at home. I am trying to be more patient and forgiving of myself when these slip-ups happen because I know guilt goes nowhere in this relationship with myself. After all, it is normal to go through these kinds of waves and cycles. We’re not always ON and we shouldn’t be expected to be.
But I started noticing myself falling back into bad habits and I wanted to talk it out with her in hopes that I could snap myself out of it.
I started explaining myself to Robin. “I don’t know what all of this is. Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe it’s just been too cold. Or maybe when I don’t start my day off with a workout, the rest of the day turns to shit.”
Robin listened patiently while I attempted to latch on to a reason for all of this and then responded.
“Or…maybe this is a little self-sabotage?”
I’ve heard that word being thrown around before. But I didn’t really understand how it related to me and my situation.
Of course I’m not trying to sabotage myself. I’ve got a wedding to go to next week! And I WANT this life and this health and this happiness. Why the hell would I try to sabotage myself?
But, after talking to her about it and doing a little of my own research, it all makes sense.
It’s why I have continually failed. Over and over and over.
It’s why I can stick to something for a few weeks or months and then turn back to food and wine to comfort me.
It all comes down to cognitive dissonance.
It is way too psychologically distressing if our beliefs and our behaviors are not aligned. Our psychological being is set up to protect ourselves from that. So, at a sub-conscious level, our mind makes sure that our beliefs and our behaviors are always in alignment.
Belief – I am a good person.
Behavior – I help my friend who is upset.
Those two things are aligned. Right?
But what happens when you’ve got a deep-rooted belief that doesn’t match up with your behaviors?
Superficially, I tell myself I’m worthy.
On the surface, I tell myself that I deserve the best foods to fuel me, the best health to sustain me. But for 30 years of my life, I’ve held on to the belief that I am not.
So over the past few months, while I’ve been working on shifting a lot of my behaviors by going to the gym and being more conscious of my diet, this “self-sabotage” was inevitable.
Because when a belief and a behavior are not aligned, one of two things will happen.
Either the belief changes.
…Or the behavior changes.
And BECAUSE my belief is so deep-seated and ingrained within me, it is much more difficult to shift than my behaviors. So it was only a matter of time that these behaviors would match up with this belief within me.
As much as I tell myself over and over that I’m worth it, this is 30 years of crap piled one on top of each other.
30 years of “I’m not good enough,” “Whaddya know, I failed again,” and “You are destined to be FAT.”
It isn’t going to disappear just because I found a workout I love.
My beliefs about MYSELF aren’t going to change just because I discovered a new way of eating that works for me.
This takes time.
Talking it out.
Reaching out for support.
Being open and honest and vulnerable.
Doing these five-minute self-compassion exercises.
I was so confused when Robin suggested that I was self-sabotaging. Because I honestly believe that my opinion of myself has changed so significantly since last year. I love my self.
But there’s a saying that goes,“When we give ourselves unconditional love, we discover the conditions under which we were unloved.”
I think I’m reaching that point.
Reaching the point where I am experiencing all this internal confusion and these overwhelming emotions because I’ve got 30 years of side glares and unsolicited advice and hurtful words to sort through. None of which were intended to hurt me. But I didn’t have the emotional capacity to deal with it then.
So, layer after layer, they got added to my heart.
And now, here I am, trying to take each of those layers off. One by one.
Robin said something to me a few weeks ago. After noticing a pattern in my behaviors, she said, “We can talk in circles about your carb count. But there is some emotional baggage that seems to be the root of the problem.” There is more to health than food.
That baggage isn’t going to disappear overnight.
But, being more aware of my baggage and the self-sabotage behavior I engage in every few weeks is a really good place to start. Awareness.
It’s a slow process but I’m carefully and thoughtfully unpacking all the emotions I’ve got tucked away.
One piece at a time.
Questions of the Day:
- How do you deal with your own emotional baggage?