I used to have a love / hate relationship with bagels.
Looking back, it seems this relationship was aligned with the diet de jour – whatever diet was trendy at the time. In the late 90s, bread could be considered “fat free” and the diet everybody swore by was “fat free”. Have you ever tasted fat free cream cheese? It tastes like rubber cement. Disgusting. But at least I could eat a bagel. Then I got to Trinity College which could have been aptly named “Eating Disorder University” and I watched as women hallowed out their bagels, leaving only the crust. to eat LESS bread, less dough, even if it was fat free.
Then in the 2000s, suddenly bread was bad. Carbs were bad. South Beach Diet. Atkins diet. Eat all the fat you want – like pepperoni or bacon, but don’t you dare eat a piece of wheat bread. So, bagels are out. But I still loved and enjoyed the taste of bagels and all things carbohydrate. What’s a gal to do?
Binge eat them when no one was around? Sometimes. Sometimes I would eat until my stomach felt full to bursting, but my emotions felt huge yet so empty. I’d tell myself I deserved that (2nd?) bagel. I earned that bagel (or new pair of shoes, or bottle of wine…you name it!) because of all the ways I had been good/kind/hard working/disciplined, etc. etc.
I wasn’t capable of real reflection at this stage in my life. I wasn’t able to tease apart my feelings and my behaviors. I needed to hurry up and either (try to) fill up the emptiness, numb the pain, avoid discomfort/uncertainty/being out of control. Basically, not feel exactly how I actually felt.
Now I have a couple more tools & practices I can utilize to bring more awareness to my feeling state(s). I have a deeper understanding of how feelings aren’t facts, how they pass and change to something else. I see more clearly the stories I tell myself, and the old patterns that get triggered.
This morning I woke up grouchy. I snapped at my husband (sorry, babe!) and I found myself being frustrated with other drivers on the road. My best self is the woman who lets another car in, when needing to merge. This morning I was the woman who looks straight ahead and refuses eye contact. Not good.
I knew something was up.
Ironically, the desire for a cup of coffee and a bagel hit me hard. I started to chastise myself (“you had yogurt and granola already; no way are you hungry yet!”) and push myself to get back to work (get your priorities straight, you lazy bum!”). Then I paused. I brought attention to these layers of feeling and resistance to feelings. So many GD layers.
From there I did three things…
1. spent a short amount of time thinking about WHY I might be feeling grouchy. I’d gotten a good night’s sleep and I wasn’t HANGRY (it’s a real thing!).
I compassionately asked myself “what’s uncomfortable for me right now?”
And it hit me like a ton of bricks: I am awaiting responses from proposals I submitted for several jobs I am excited about, and hope will come to fruition. It’s out of my hands at this point, so I’m feeling very out of control of my own destiny. Full stop.
2. I then acknowledged my feelings of discomfort.
3. Next, I bought that bagel and cup of coffee – and allowed in some pleasure. I made a conscious choice to enjoy whatever experiences I have in the present moment. And hell yes, I put BOTH butter and cream cheese on that bagel. None of which were fat free. And for those of you who worry about dieting – here’s some inspiration and affirmation – I’m in better shape now than I was in college. But maybe that’s because I’m not eating pizza and beer at midnight to further fill up the emptiness. Just sayin’. 🙂
what might you do to bring more self-awareness and pleasure to your present moment?