Author Archives: Judy

A Reminder to Make Appointments with Yourself

A Reminder to Make Appointments with Yourself
A Reminder to Make Appointments with Yourself

The world’s great teachings over thousands of years agree that we have all we need already, inside. If that’s true, how do we wind up in such painful tangles? It’s because we’ve lost touch with ourselves.

This is a very short and sweet reminder to do what you must do in order to come home. There is an absolute abundance of studies illustrating the benefits of meditation – it’s the most accessible, and perhaps most effective, way to quickly make an appointment with your true self. To drop ALL the outside opinions, expectations, harsh realities, AND your own internal pressure, in order to get reacquainted with just BEING you in your body. When you give yourself a chance to do that, and breathe… the truths you need to pay attention to surface. And you have the calmness required to look at them. Give yourself this essential food… The food of time for yourself.

No One Else Can Talk You Out of This

No One Else Can Talk You Out of This
No One Else Can Talk You Out of This

I just got home from my weekly session with my therapist, Janet. There are some sessions that seem to have the sole purpose of listening to how much garbage comes out of your mouth. And this is a good purpose – because when you actually say it out loud in sentences, instead of accepting it as a constant garbled hum in your mind, you see exactly what’s being said and how terrible it really is.
Some samples of beliefs I expressed in the session:
I cannot start learning something new because I will look too pathetic in the early stages.
It doesn’t matter how I look for the rest of my life because I didn’t look how I wanted when I wanted to.
It’s cooler to have friends who like you for your body or skills than for your personality.
I’m too old to ___________.
I can’t have a “normal life” until I ____________.

Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiggggghhhhhhhh. Miserable just to read, forget live with everyday.
So, I found myself saying some of these things as if I were expecting my therapist to give me 8,000 “oh, sweetie, of course not”s. As if that would just knock those silly thoughts right out of my head, for good, banished, as if they had never affected me.

But… When you’ve read as many amazing, beautiful books as I have, listened to as many brilliant speakers, done workshops and retreats.. You have to realize that it’s not about someone telling you the right thing enough times. Of course, hearing the right thing at the right time can be very helpful, and can sometimes make the difference. But as for long-term change, that is going to be based on YOU putting in consistent effort towards owning up to your true beliefs and making a conscious decision about continuing to endorse them or not. You don’t get to say you believe there are things much more important than being thin, act as if you believe the opposite, and then lament that you continue to have eating issues. If you are acting as if being thin is what matters most, this requires inquiry; denial will only lead to going through the motions of someone who believes there are more important things, and sooner or later collapsing into the underlying belief with self-hatred and likely bingeing. As usual, the problem there would not be the bingeing, which is always the side effect, but rather, it would be the failure to acknowledge that the damaging underlying belief is still reigning.

When you’ve got a damaging belief in charge, you must ask yourself what the benefit is of continuing to hold the belief.

So let’s see: Why would I want to continue to believe that you cannot be truly loved or wanted unless you are thin?
When I imagine dressing and acting as if my acceptability is not dependent on my weight, I sense a fear basically that others will mentally laugh at me for “trying to be” cute or normal or sexy or feminine when clearly I am not (because I am not thin). So at least 2 things are implied here: Cute, normal, sexy, feminine = thin, and, I am afraid of others judging me as a failure, trying to be something I’m not.

Again, at this point, you might imagine kind others and the better part of yourself saying, “oh, you know those things are not true. You don’t have to be thin to be those things, don’t worry about what others think.” But it takes more than that. You already know the truth here – the question is why you are not willing to live it out. For me, I think it is that fear of mockery, exclusion..

And at that point, I must ask myself: Okay. Is avoiding that hypothetical mockery and exclusion worth feeling bad about food and my body for the rest of my life? Is being safe worth losing the life I really want?

After high school’s over, who would really want to be around anyone who would meanly mock someone in real life? When you’re not a trapped kid anymore, you can realize that people who make fun of other people like that will likely make fun of you too sooner or later, and you can choose to find people who are not like that, who actually enjoy each other. It’s not a matter of not being cool, it’s a matter of not being desperate. You only feel like you need to be “cool” or “sexy” more than you need anything else, when you don’t really feel like you have anything else. Hence the other old well-known fact, when people insult you it’s all about them. Only someone who feels they have no value other than their looks would make fun of a woman dressing as she likes at any size.

So don’t just wait for the things you already know to eventually “click,” after the next book, blog post, workshop, streak of “doing a good job.” It’s deeper than that. We’re talking subconscious, OLD, deep beliefs that are wired with fear. They require active, continuous confrontation, and ultimately a decision about what’s worth believing.

Re-program yourself for the greatness you want to live now and for the rest of your life.
<3 Judy

Open, Open

Open, Open
Open, Open

I want to be the kind of person that gives strangers the benefit of the doubt. Who is inclined to trust until there is real evidence not to. The kind of person who is whole in herself regardless of who or what she is currently attached to. An encouraging person. Someone who does not contribute to needless aggression or pessimism. Someone who acts out of genuine excitement and engagement, not out of pressure, obligation, or fear. Someone whose life is an end in itself, who does not wait to be validated in order to feel permission to live fully. I want to relax into and own the freedom that I already have. I want to let go of all of the reasons I tell myself I can’t be free just yet. I want to let the chips fall where they fall when I refuse to leave myself anymore. It may feel like someone can take this from me, because it was taken over and over again when I had no power. I didn’t have the space or safety to be to able to choose how to be with myself. But it’s not true anymore and never will be again. If I stay with myself, stay on my own side, I may experience a stomach in knots over someone yelling at me or firing me or condemning me.. But the knots will pass and what will remain is how I be with myself. It could be me tending to my own pain, instead of me trapped in so many stories of why I deserved it or how I was wronged or how I am irrevocably fucked. It could just be another experience in a lifetime of unique experiences. This lifetime that could have the common thread of me loving myself, and loving life because I open to it and feel myself open. Feel myself open.

No One Can Want it for You

No One Can Want it for You
No One Can Want it for You

As part of my training in psychology, I’ve learned about borderline personality disorder. Maybe I’ll go more into depth about it another time, but a “love/hate” tendency is one of the defining characteristics. I have noticed in myself that when others anticipate my needs and go above and beyond in satiating them, I practically fall in love. And when I have to explicitly state what I need, or do not get what I need – it can take only moments to relegate a person to the “doesn’t really understand/love me” category.

At the same time on the flip-side, I feel that when I respond to others’ needs well I deserve love, acceptance, and praise. And when I fall short, there is justification for when I am treated badly. When you add in perfectionism, this leads to a constant struggle to meet others’ needs in order to feel secure, and a constant falling short and consequent feelings of deserving maltreatment.

How does this relate to food, and the title of this post?

Well, for most of my life up till now, I did what I was told. I was a “good girl.” I followed paths that are sanctioned by society as “smart,” “safe,” “good,” “responsible,” “productive.” And whatever I did (which was mainly school), I did extremely well. And I received what comes along with that: people always saying I’m so smart, scholarships, people talking about my potential, people treating me like I’m a “good girl.” I played by the rules no matter the cost and I got the rewards that those particular games offered.

The thing is, when the rewards just don’t do it anymore because you’ve burnt yourself to a crisp, you come face to face with something: your own abandoned dreams, the rules your heart would like to set for the game of life.

Which is all well and good, except when you are used to being a zombie in exchange for people praising you, it can be extremely difficult to learn true accountability for one’s actions, as well as how to relate to others in a way that relies on mutual exchange rather than sacrifice and reward.

So. At the moment, I’ve freed myself from the predetermined “good girl” path. And, as I begin to allow myself to imagine different new paths for myself, I find myself stuck in certain ways. Just the thought of picking anything is strange to me, because I think, “Well, if I pick that, it will just be because I picked it, not because it made sense, it was a good idea, my parents would like the idea, it would be good for my future, it’s the only option, it’s the only choice I can make while I also have to do ______, etc.” It appears that I am having great difficulty with valuing my own choices on the merit of simply being what I want. It feels like I’m waiting to get called on the phone and yelled at for not remembering that this or that is most important right now so I can’t just _______ (fill in the blank with whatever I want).

To get back to the borderline concept, the way I’ve operated most of my life is to feel that I owe others and that they owe me based on whether or not we are meeting certain expectations. However, now, trying to stand only on my own two legs as the foundation for my choices, for my being… Separating my intrinsic value from “doing as I’m told”… I can no longer expect others to treat me a certain way just because I play by their rules, since I realize I can play by my own now and that each person is entitled to this.

I’ve never been thin before, and for most of my life I had a frying pan poised over my skull, with the threat, “YOU BETTER DIET OR YOU’LL BE UNACCEPTABLE FOREVER.” So I dieted every day for 10 years.
Then I threw dieting in the garbage where it belongs, and began therapy in which I have for 3 years expressed “I need to do something about my eating, though, really, seriously, oh my god.” And I do not mean to diminish the true suffering here in any way, it’s real. But – in both this case and with dieting, the issue of addressing my eating has not been treated as a choice. It’s been treated as: You are expected to fix this, and if you don’t, it’s a fucking problem. And the game I’ve played with myself is that as long as I’m suffering enough about it, obsessing enough about it, I meet my own quota for suffering necessary to be a good person and then deserve the reward of bingeing.

I am beginning to glimpse an alternative. If I want to eat differently, do not make it a game with myself, seeing how badly I can demand myself to suffer, and how well I comply. Do not pretend that the “streaks” of doing well, as long as they’re often enough, prove that I’m valuable otherwise I’d just be shit. Rather… Make an honest evaluation, then make a decision, then take responsibility for seeing it through. Every action everyone takes is calculated to be the best action according to underlying beliefs, values, and emotional issues. Everyone is physically in control of the actions they take. So before you take an action you don’t want to take, you can make it your responsibility to find out what underneath is leading to that impulse. You inquire, you figure it out. You don’t ruminate, you don’t pretend it’s unsolvable, you don’t let it go on and on and on. You reckon with it until it’s known.

If you’re completely up and down with your eating, you need to find out what it is that you truly want, and then you need to be ready to commit to it. Decide if you want to live or not! For those with histories of depression or suicidal thoughts, you may need to go back to this most fundamental of questions. If you’re reading this, it’s extremely likely that you do want to live – which means the part of you that’s causing ambivalence is made up of emotional leftovers that you should not allow to run your life. If you want to live, decide if you’re willing to spend more time causing yourself suffering or not – decide EXACTLY how you are going to take action on your own behalf, and know that you can.

There’s a difference between force and threats, and firmness about the fact that you are the only one who gets to decide what’s valuable to you and the only one who is in charge of whether or not you get that value into your life. We can have compassion for the parts of ourselves that need attention, the parts that cause us to act out; however, we do not want those echoes of the past running our lives. We want our best selves and our true desires and values running our lives.

This post was inspired by a conflict with my boyfriend which was essentially about the need to manage one’s own expectations. We have been together for almost 7 years. We know each other, and we know each other’s basic traits, capabilities, habits, communication styles, etc. I like the example I used in the last post, of how people don’t try to jump in the air when they know they can’t fly that way. It would be the hallmark of not accepting one’s own responsibility, if someone yelled at the sky every day, “Oh yeah??!?? Again not letting me fly?!?? You make me sick!!!! You don’t understand me, you don’t love me.. Screw you, sky.” What a way to emotionally drain yourself every single day. Not to mention destroy your relationship with the sky.

If the reality is that this person was actually carrying around a broken heart about not being able to fly, it would be time for them to acknowledge this and to decide whether or not they are going to commit themselves to their dream. Are they going to begin training to become a pilot or an astronaut? Are they going to conclude that what they wanted was an unrealistic expectation and let it go? EITHER one of these, whichever is true in their heart, will bring peace and renewed energy, wellness and direction. Why? Because in either case, even if the answer is to let the dream die, you are no longer raising your blood pressure and releasing the chemicals of stress into your body and soul every day screaming at the sky.

FIND where in life you have conflicts that seem to have been there for a very long time, which you have been unable to solve. Of course we can use the example of food, but as the relationship to food is really only the surface indicator of deeper emotional truths, you must find these conflicts elsewhere as well.

Always all-or-nothing or back and forth in the relationship to food? Decide whether you are ready to choose life over bingeing, then commit to healing through eating when, what, and how much the body needs and doing inquiry when you want food but are not hungry.

Love/hate in your relationship? Decide what you really need, and then commit to getting that, whatever that implies, whether it be weekly conversations to assess the relationship, breaking up, starting therapy in order to sort out which are your own issues, or whatever else is needed.

If you’ve lived a life of having to prove yourself for love (and likely learned to make others prove themselves to you as a way of showing love), it’s time to find the freedom in declaring your own value and respecting the inherent value of others. If you don’t like something, do not expect that enough suffering or enough passive-aggression or enough waiting or enough hinting or enough tolerating or enough despair will make someone else make it go away because you deserve it to. There’s no more deserving in terms of being treated well. You’ve got to want it, and then you’ve got to make it happen. This is not the same as saying “you can only ever rely on yourself” – but in terms of others in your life, you still choose who is in your life and the extent of the chosen ones’ abilities to treat you well.

Let’s not delay in discovering what we truly want and need.
Go get it.
Judy

Facing the Fact that We Have Limits

Facing the Fact that We Have Limits
Facing the Fact that We Have Limits

I quit/got-fired-from my job on November 1st in order to go to Geneen Roth’s retreat in California. As of right now, I don’t have the money for rent due on January 6th —- reality check.

I quit in a binge-y sort of way: yes, I’ll go to the retreat! I’ll have free time! I won’t have to wake up early for a while! The retreat will put me in such a different frame of mind for so long! This is it! Yeah, I’ll get what I want! I’ll have it all!!!!

That last bit there – that last little line – is a blaring buzzing neon light signaling binge-mode.

“I’ll have it all.”

It’s the mark of a deprived, out-of-touch mentality. It’s a defense against guilt and loss and anger. Had a fight with a family member? Next thing you know you’re saying Damned right I’m having Chinese takeout WITH the extra egg roll won ton soup duck sauce and Snapple.

Anyway – I went on the retreat in a binge-y way, I was sort of aware of it at the time but considered the expected benefits of the retreat (I had gone once before) to outweigh this fact anyway, so I went. And it WAS brilliant and revitalizing and sweet. But. Now, the rent check is waiting to be written in a few weeks, and I am madly rebelling. I feel like I DESERVE time off and that I want my next job to be perfect for my life before just jumping into another one I will eventually want to leave. Ah – that other blaring signal word – “perfect.”

What I’ve said so far is to provide a backdrop for this main point: Binge or no binge, reality remains.

Whenever you “act out” about something, you’re left with the original conflict that precipitated the acting out, and in addition the consequences of the acting out. Plain english: After you eat all the Chinese food you want, you now still have the fact that you had a fight with a family member, plus the discomfort and self-loathing that results from the compulsive eating.

The only ways to deal with this truth are to try to stay in a stupor as often as possible (eat compulsively all day, drink every day, get high every day, buy something every day), or to face what needs facing.

To be blunt, often, I only stop being self-destructive when something demands that I crawl out of my hole. I may only stop eating when I feel like I’ll get sick if I don’t. I may only get myself to go to my soccer game because if I miss a 3rd one in a row it will look too bad. I may only say I’m sorry to my boyfriend when it becomes explicitly clear that I’ve gone too far and hurt him. I may only pay attention to the fact that I don’t have clothes that fit me when I have 15 minutes to get ready to meet a friend and then rage about it, trying to find something decent enough.

These behaviors are the manifestation of a mentality of avoidance. Essentially, avoidance of reality. Avoidance of psychological and emotional truths, and the truths of being human. This is why the Buddha focused so much on the nature of reality, and declared his central teaching to be that “Life is suffering.” Why would a guy who says shit like that still have so much influence today? ;)

It’s because it IS true – If you find yourself being a human being, it is true so far as anything is true: that you will die, that you will get old and sick and die if you are lucky, or die in some accident if you are not, that you will feel physical pain just by virtue of having a body, that you will feel emotional pain whether it’s because you have love or lack it… As deeply as you believe the sun will rise tomorrow, you may believe that every human being will experience these sufferings in life.

What does this do for us? It can smash the delusions that lead to mental self-torture and lack of compassion for others.

When you dive into the chicken and broccoli and egg roll and rice and scent of the duck sauce and chewing and swallowing and chasing with sweet drink.. When you take the dive into oblivion, no matter how long it takes (a quick swipe of the credit card, a few seconds of obsession in the mind, a 5-hour binge), you are diving into the delusion that you can have it all, and that you can control how you feel.

How many grown people do you see jumping up and down outside, trying to launch into the air and fly?
Zero.
Because as deeply as they know anything, they know that humans can’t just jump up and fly, so they don’t try.

Self-destructive/addictive behaviors indicate denial of realities that are equally true, such as
– It is impossible for us to always feel happy.
– Suffering is inherent to living.
– You cannot change the past.
– I am angry at a family member.
– I am so tired that I need to go to bed now.
– I hate my job.
– I never figured out what I really wanted.
– We are always getting older, closer to death.

The good news is that working with reality is easier than working with layers and layers of compulsion and denial. Reality is unpredictable, scarier, and more raw, and it means change.. But it is also where you can actually meet yourself and taste this life.

You can’t have it all – but you CAN have what you DO have.
We’ve got limits, but we also have freedoms.
Gotta die? Choose how to spend your life.
Your body only needs 5 bites of food at the moment? Pick which deliciousness you’ll feed it.
You need to work to live? Decide what job will most enable you to be yourself at this time.
Find yourself undeniably tired? Angry? Hopeless? Heartbroken?
Clink an imaginary glass with all of the human souls who’ve ever lived who were brave enough to feel, and know, how they felt. These are the souls who learned compassion for others by facing their own suffering and in so doing faced everyone else’s as well. These are the souls who undoubtedly opened their hearts most to the world, and transformed it. This is what we all seek – offer your exhaustion to this. Offer your anger, hopelessness, and heartbreak to this shared courage and opening. Let screams and tears and laughter and sighs come. Imagine a soul putting her hand on your shoulder, nodding with a slight, knowing smile, communicating with no words, “Ah.. Yes.. That moment of facing aloneness. Mm-mm. Yes, yes..” Just that shared knowing. “Ah, anger with your friend.. Ah, yes.. Ah, that burn.” The humanity of feeling anger. The humanity of feeling the love underneath it. This is so much more precious than what a binge can offer you.

Facing the realities of limits and suffering can be excruciatingly painful, but is also the only way to feel your own heart, to look into your own eyes. If you can do this, you will be most able to be intimate with joy itself when it is time for joy – which it often is.

Offering encouragement for staying with your true way,
Judy

Rediscovering Hunger

Rediscovering Hunger
Rediscovering Hunger

There are few things more basic to a living being than feeling hunger and then feeding it. It’s built in from Day 1, and without this mechanism we die.

After years of adding emotional drama and mental judgment onto our eating habits, we eventually lose touch with or abandon our natural hunger mechanism. Natural – meaning no conscious effort necessary. We trade in an ease that we’re born with for a constant struggle, for the promise of something supernatural: being thin-loved-accepted-perfect all the time.

The way back to ourselves and the way back to ease-of-eating is to reconnect with natural hunger. This has many implications on the emotional level as well, but for now, try this exercise:

Set aside a day, or half a day, in which you will not be under much pressure and will have the opportunity to be with yourself emotionally. You’re going to use your imagination and pretend that for this time, you do not know that humans need to eat in order to live. The point is that you will go about your time with other tasks, and will re-direct any thoughts about food because food has nothing to do with people at this time. If you can do this much, you will experience the gift of your physical hunger creeping up on you. While this may seem very silly or unnecessary, for someone who is at the point where they don’t believe they can even FEEL hunger anymore, it can be a miracle. Why? You discover that your body WILL talk to you in EXACTLY the way that will guide you toward your best health. It’s truly about letting it be – letting go because you can trust that when something is needed, you will know, and you will even know exactly what to do. First things first – feel your hunger.

Without hunger we cannot know what we truly need.
Judy

Stretch Yourself

Stretch Yourself
Stretch Yourself

Today I didn’t feel like really exercising. Not a rare occasion. But – I was willing to do some deep stretching. I haven’t stretched for more than a few minutes in months. So having finally done it again today, I just wanted to suggest that you give yourself the intimate experience of a great stretch!

I’ve only done about 3 “real” yoga sessions in my life.. But I understand the basic philosophy of connecting and being with your body and breath. After today, it seems to me that deep stretching can produce many of the same effects as yoga, without having to go to a class or learn any forms.

You can’t go wrong with stretching.. as they would say with yoga, too, it’s only you facing your own experience, your own limits and how much further you do or do not want to go.

If you have great trouble accepting and feeling your body, as I do, I think stretching is a loving way to come back into your body a bit. Whatever mobility level you have, whatever flexibility, you go at your own pace and you wake your body up as much as you can. Find those places aching to be moved and activated.

Of course, you can take this approach with the rest of your life, too: Gently explore all areas.. give special attention to those that are calling out for movement, for challenge, for healing. There’s no doing it wrong, you are the only one who can feel out which parts of life need to be lived out in a certain way for YOUR life. Your body.

Your senses, your heart; they guide you in your movements if you listen – and if you’re willing to lean into it – it feels SO GOOD afterwards! The reward is inhabiting your body, inhabiting your life. Feeling the flexibility and energy to move as your whole self through whatever comes.

Stretch today! If it’s impossible, tomorrow at the latest! Go for at least 15 minutes.. An hour if you really want to be intimate and talk with your body.

Feel yourself, feel what’s real, feel what’s there for you.

To Make the World a Better Place

To Make the World a Better Place
To Make the World a Better Place

What the world needs is people who are living in a way that makes them happy. More than the world needs you to recycle, join the Peace Corps, or give to the poor, the world needs YOU to live your one life the way you truly want to. When you live life in a way that turns you on, you shine light in more ways than you could if you live trying to “do the right thing” or “succeed” or “be good” in ways that aren’t true to you. It may be the truest thing for you to join the Peace Corps, and if it is, let your heart take you there. It also may be the truest thing for you to decorate cakes. Your joy will awaken equally if what you choose is in accord with what you really want.. and joy naturally leads to compassion – which is actually the core of what’s needed in the world.

Remember the quote about how lighting someone else’s candle takes no light away from your own. It is not selfish to make sure your own candle is lit first – indeed, this is the only way you’ll be enabled to truly give.