We can sometimes underestimate the power of feeling good about ourselves and perhaps this is tied in somewhere with not always choosing what we know is healthy, wholesome and best for us.
Once we get into feeling good about ourselves life becomes easier, sweeter, and things feel much more simple and accessible.
Some of this we know is down to chemical changes – our bodies release chemicals which we associate with pleasurable feelings. Some of it we can recognise in changes to how our mind is operating: even if our mind is being stimulated we can feel a letting go of anxiety or doubt. Some of it relates to something which we recognise but have no precise language for, which we might describe as being in our element perhaps, or in the moment.
Feeling good arrives in numerous ways, getting a good night’s sleep maybe; or becoming more physically fit, feeling toned and at our optimum weight; chatting with friends and being able to relax and laugh; accomplishing a significant goal; reading a good book or just making time for ourselves like having a soak in the bath.
All of these examples have in common that they are natural functions. There’s nothing complicated about them, it’s more a question of allowing them, or taking the necessary action – the ‘being bothered’ about ourselves – in order for them to happen.
To explore why we don’t always get on with being bothered when the subject is ourself it might help to have an example. Let’s take a fairly typical example, something many of us have had experience of directly or indirectly, let’s say we feel out of sorts because we’re overweight.
This might show up as feeling lethargic and/or we start to avoid situations where dressing-up is required, or we take ourselves out of social situations where we’d be concerned about how others might perceive us. Much of this reaction to feeling overweight can reinforce our not feeling good about ourselves. For instance, taking ourselves out of social situations where we might feel self-conscious we are more likely to stay at home and watch television and eat to comfort ourselves.
Weight gain we know is a result of being out of balance – what we eat and drink, quality and quantity, being out of balance with our metabolism. Our metabolism is adjusted most quickly by exercise and movement, but can be influenced too by rest, stimulation and how we are thinking and feeling amongst other factors.
Our metabolism can be influenced by chemicals too. With a concern amongst Western countries about more people being overweight it’s maybe worth thinking about the chemicals that enter the food chain – chemicals which are designed to promote rapid and disease-free weight gain in animals to bring them most profitably to market which could be passed on to us when we eat those animals for instance.
So by and large we have a sense of what to do. We might propose to ourselves that if we eat a third less and exercise a third more than we have been doing we’ll start feeling good about how we can move and be ourselves. Or if we suspect a chemical imbalance then we’d eat food that doesn’t contain chemicals that will have such an adverse affect on us - more pulses for protein for instance or restricting wheat because of bloating and so on.
All of this is natural and within our gift and yet – as a generalisation – we don’t do it, or if we do it we don’t maintain it. And yet it’s natural and need involve no additional cost or additional resource.
We tell ourselves that we want to do something about weight loss and we spend money to give action to this – we buy books about dieting; chemicals to assist dieting; programmes designed for weight loss; food and drink which is recommended; machines to assist exercise especially where weight loss is one of the perceived benefits of using the machine; and so on. We might make progress, maybe one of these things works for us, but for the issue of weight loss as a whole it seems like there’s a piece missing.
Looking at this from different perspective we know that if something comes along, say we fall in love, get a promotion at work, a poem we’ve written is acclaimed, it has knock-on effects into other areas of our life. We are more likely to loose weight because we’ve fallen in love than because of a diet for instance – as if getting a lift somewhere in our life lifts everything else. Looking at what is happening we might say everything is connected.
If this is our principle and we ask questions about this sense of everything being connected why is it that we tend to avoid the connections that we can experience and feel within? It’s almost as if we’re hiding from ourselves, maybe avoiding ourselves.
Where we have a reaction to this hiding away or avoidance we might experience self-sabotage: we don’t allow things to work out for us and find some way to undo the good feeling. We push away the person we’ve experienced love with, or eat and carry-on eating, or take alcohol and other drugs to excess and so on.
We might also get into what we call addictive behaviour. We jog on in day-to-day life outwardly wanting the good things in life and behind closed doors making a pattern of sabotaging ourself. Getting ourselves totally immersed in work and avoiding relationships, or avoiding our own creativity as examples. We might tell ourselves stories which, we say, are the reason why we are putting our dreams into sometime in the future and avoiding now.
It feels like there’s a couple of things we can do about this. The first is to look for the feeling of feeling good and doing it. Bringing it into life and investing in it. Making it a part of the fabric of life.
The second is to have a look, internally, for the figure that you are wishing to avoid. Who is this person who is wanting to keep things out of balance and what is it that they need? Find them and have a chat and give them what they need! The power of feeling good is too important to be left to chance encounter.
Once we’ve found the aspect of ourselves that we’ve been avoiding and make peace then loosing weight and feeling great becomes a doddle. Eat one third less and exercise one third more. Namasté