Do you struggle with sitting still? Is watching a movie, reading a book, or even having a conversation a test of your patience? Many of us have become accustomed to a routine of constant stimulation and distraction. Embracing the present can seem counterproductive, like a waste of time, or perhaps even painful. As women we can be pros at creating distractions for ourselves or about reaching an outcome. We give ourselves kudos for being master jugglers. We are praised for our maternalism and caring capabilities, and yet self-care can be met with skepticism.
Afraid of confronting destructive beliefs and patterns, we externalize our problems and blame our bodies, relationships, work environment, and finances among other “causes” rather than looking within. And so, we rely on such things as binging, booze, boys, bags, and never-ending body projects to keep us occupied and detached from our truth. We lose patience as patience is nothing more than simply accepting the present moment.
A note on binging…
It is often a cycle of guilt, shame, and secrecy. Perhaps when the kids are in bed and the husband is not watching, or a hush-hush trip through the drive-thru, or a secret “snack” drawer at work. Everyone is allowed a sugar-spree every so often, but when binging and food becomes a false sense of control or the mechanism by which we quell our emotions, it can become dangerous and destructive. Rather than feel the discomfort, fear, sadness, or grief, we drown it out with the fleeting pleasure of sugar and salt on our taste buds. We might gain weight, or we might purge to try to cover up the “evidence”. The guilt takes over and then the feelings, which must again be quieted.
A note on booze…
While there has been a recent spotlight on opioid and prescription drug use, alcohol use has quietly been climbing and deaths attributed to alcohol continue to rival any other substance. High risk drinking, which was defined in the study as women consuming more than 4 drinks per day or men consuming more than 5 drinks per day increased by 30% between 2001-2002 to 2012-2013. Among women specifically, high risk drinking increased by nearly 60%. In the Northwest, alcohol consumption and being privy to the latest and greatest brew pub is associated with social prowess and prestige.
A note on boys…
Lust, codependency, and compromising our own comfort to satisfy. It is human nature to fantasize and want to please to an extent, but boys or whomever you place affection can be a powerful distraction and our means to validation and self-worth. We might be plagued by self-doubt if we assume we are not meeting expectations. Sometimes we may subconsciously (or consciously) seek out or relive situations reminiscent of past traumas or heartache to try to make the traumatic pleasurable or find power when we previously may have felt powerless.
A note on bags…
I was in Las Vegas recently and took some strolls through the opulent designer rows filled with top trends to satiate high rollers. It is all a bit exciting for a moment and then I found myself rather quickly disillusioned. I suddenly felt pride for my $15.00 Target purse and my sleek black jumpsuit I got from Ross Dress for Less. Really, who gives a damn and if they do, do I give a damn? I must admit I enjoy shopping, fashion, and I understand the power of a first impression. That said, character is not defined by designer labels and if you think external possessions are going to make you happy, you will be quickly disappointed. When it comes to judging one another based on materialism, quite frankly, my give a damn is busted. I think your’s should be too.
A note on Beachbody’s…
Your body is your vessel and if you can walk, talk, move without pain, digest your food, and have a healthy heart, there is so much to be grateful for. Many cannot say the same. We take the power of our body for granted as women and we fight the inevitable process of change. We believe that we must punish our body’s until we reach a socially predetermined goal. Through deprivation and often exhaustion we may lose the 10 pounds, but we reach it having done so with a mentality of shame and self-degradation. We tell ourselves we will finally be happy when we have a 6-pack, lose 10 pounds, run the race, or get rid of the jiggle. Problem is we are acting out of fear rather than love and when fear is the driver, we almost always crash.
Okay so now what?
Okay so you have some vices, guilty pleasures, or admittedly, self-destructive behaviors. Now what?
- You must take time to practice being OK with the present, which means learning to acknowledge your feelings and fears. This takes practice and intentionality and it might take professional help. Deep breathing, meditation, keeping a gratitude journal, taking a sensory inventory are all small ways to invite the present. This takes practice and intentionality and it might take professional help.
- Acknowledge your inner child- it is likely desperate to be heard. Picture a hurt child coming to you for help- would you deprive, degrade, and punish that child? That seems cringeworthy as most of us would seek to help that child with gentle curiosity. “What’s wrong? How can I help? Tell me what hurt you? I am here for you. You are going to be OK.” Perhaps then we should be kinder to the wounded child within ourselves.
- Question everything. Question your core beliefs. Are they born out of fear of love? What behaviors and patterns are energy restorative versus energy depleting? Are you acting and behaving out of compliance or tradition? Has this caused you to sacrifice your personal truth?
- Treat self-care as a responsibility. This means you honor yourself- your mind, your body, and your spirit. You honor yourself because the energy that you bring into this world has consequences- positive and negative from interacting with the grocery store clerk to your spouse. Take ownership of your energy.
Remember, the present is all you have. Right now, right here, there is power.
Thanks for listening everyone.
Audry Van Houweling, Owner, She Soars Psychiatry, LLC
Sisters & Silverton, Oregon