Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cages & Freedom

Image from here

Lately I have been thinking a lot about invisible obstacles. You know what I'm talking about. These are the intangible things that keep us from progressing towards our goals and ideals. We can't measure them, quantify them, or see them. Sometimes, we can't even describe them. We just know they are there. And make no mistake: they are real.

Just because they are real, it doesn't mean they have to be permanent. 

Sometimes, all it takes to be able to break free from these emotional chains is to recognize what they are. Let me give you an example.

A few months ago I began working this plan to improve my health at the suggestion of a friend. After about two weeks, I began to struggle. I didn't take the time to record my calories, I stopped getting in all my water, and I allowed myself to make excuses for not exercising. After a couple more weeks, I would realize I needed to hit my reset button and start all over again. This cycle repeated about three times before I finally went to my friend and asked for a new plan or approach.

I am fortunate that she is an honest, perceptive woman. As she expressed some of her thoughts to me, I realized that there was something else going on. There was nothing wrong with the habits she was asking me to incorporate into my life. As I looked back, I realized that after about 10 days or so making healthy changes I would begin to feel trapped. I resented the foods I was missing out on, I resented the discomfort I was feeling when I exercised, and I resented having to report every single little thing in my life. I felt trapped.

But how could I be trapped? There was no cage. She wasn't hounding me for details or guilt-tripping me when I wasn't making good choices. Why in the world did I feel like I was suffocating??

Frankly, I still don't know. I had hoped I could take some time and explore my feelings while they were fresh, but life hasn't slowed down for me. I have had other commitments and things going on, and it has fallen by the wayside. Those feelings are under the surface again, and I can't see them clearly right now to identify them. I'm sure it won't always be that way. When they come back I will need to explore them, cry a little, and hopefully heal. 

I will tell you one thing I have realized since then. Guidelines for health are a lot like the God's commandments. If you haven't been keeping them, they can seem restrictive, controlling and limiting. Yet only by living them can we be truly free. They are there for our benefit. They are liberating. Perhaps keeping that image in mind will help me overcome the strain when I begin to feel as if I trapped.

In the meantime, I'm not going to try to fix all my bad habits all at once. My friend honest, perceptive, and inspired friend suggested I focus on one area for two weeks, a second area for the next two weeks, and so on. I think that's a great idea.