This piece of writing is written for those of us who struggle to find their true path in life.
Do you ever wish you could simply look into a crystal ball and see who you are, where you belong or what path to take in life?
While healing, I often screamed out asking these very questions. In doing this, I also knew full well, that who I am and where I take myself in life is ultimately up to me.
Where the path to date has been filled with confusion, control, trauma or any other life altering experience, knowing oneself can be lost beneath the difficulties our stories have presented. The true self can take a battering at times. The result? A version of you unfolds.
Too many of us end up navigating life as best we can, but feel we are in the wrong lane. That ‘feeling’ is your body telling you that you are indeed off course. That ‘feeling’ can be a dull ache nagging at you, OR, an illness trying to communicate with you. Whichever, that ‘feeling’ is desperately wanting to guide you back home; to you.
As people experiencing an eating disorder, we consistently take ourselves out of our lane. I have found that a common criteria running our script for having an eating disorder, is that of feeling unaccepted for who we are. With this dialogue commanding centre stage in our thoughts, we cannot help but develop behaviours which we hope will bring acceptance through our door.
I was a top athlete. However, when anorexia nervosa turned up, that went out of the window. I lost a huge part of my authentic self. I was a vocalist. This was lost underneath the tiredness and headaches – I could no longer commit. I was a clever academic. I somehow kept this one as I thought this would deliver the acceptance I craved. The deep longing to belong determined which lane I travelled in at any given moment. The longer I remained within the confines of anorexia nervosa, the more lanes I created. Depending upon who I was in the company of, I behaved accordingly. I became a movable personality. I was a chameleon.
Each of the lanes I travelled tried to guide me back home – I did not listen. Nor did I ever gain true acceptance. Healing would teach me that true acceptance arrives in one’s life when we show our authentic self to the world. It took some time for me to turn this around, to have the courage and the trust to be me. I wasted many years, depriving myself of wonderful experiences I could have had. Little wonder I was miserable…
For those of us who live within the vulnerability of believing that to be happy we need to be a certain personality, our lanes become extremely blurred. The lanes travelled are highly influenced by that voice within that tells us we do not belong, are not good enough, do not fit in, or whatever the dialogue is that produces this outcome. The healing process can be difficult, filled with fear. The longer these type of thoughts are held, the harder it can be to free ourselves. So how do we achieve this? There is only one way…unfortunately. We need to challenge the limiting belief that took us to this place. We need to discover the beliefs origin. We need to really define what we mean by the thought, “Not being liked, accepted, wanted…”.
Giving meaning and understanding to the belief allows us to examine it in depth. Identifying the associated fear is extremely important. Challenging the fears content MUST occur.
Facing fear can be a two sided challenge. We fear whatever lead us to believe we are disliked, and, we fear the emotion of fear which presents itself as we undertake the challenge. Where fear is getting in the way, try following the path outlined here:
1.Identify the actual fear, make sure you strongly give the fear appropriate words eg ‘if I be me no one will like me’
2.Locate where this thinking came from eg family belief, someone told this to you one day and you took the belief on – no one changed this for you.
3.Examine all of the behaviours you have adopted as a result of carrying this belief.
4. List what you have eliminated from your life in order to be liked eg learning music as I was teased
5. Imagine your authentic self, ask, “If I were true to me and removed this fear, how would that change my life choices?”
6. Imagine being free of this fear, let it go completely, describe your life – what would be in your life that is presently gone?
7. In letting the fear go what thought would you replace it with? Eg ‘I am liked and loved for who I am’.
8. Would removing the fear help you to find your tribe? How would mixing with those who accept you feel? Why is being accepted by those who perhaps journey different lanes, so important to you? Is giving you up worth it?
9. Picture the fear leaving you through meditation. Imagine the fear as a colour and you are going to replace it with a new colour which represents being accepted. As you close your eyes, visualise the ‘fear’ colour diminishing. Once it has left, visualise the new ‘accepting’ colour in its place. Allow this colour to embrace you. Feel this. Hang onto that beautiful feeling and take it with you beyond the meditation.
Now that you have examined your fear I want you to decide to be you. I want you to be courageous and make a commitment to honouring you. Picture the authentic self regularly. Feel this person. Take this wonderful feeling with you into your daily life. Try ‘you’ out and see what happens. If people reject you – do not see this as such. See this as you simply finding where in life you authentically belong. These people are simply walking in their lane; yours runs alongside. They may also have their own issues you do not know about. Simply let them go…
Another tool I used to get past this thought, was to observe others. I would observe friendship groups and identify whether belonging could be defined through some sort of criteria. I actually discovered that there existed a variety of personalities. This puzzled me?! Why then was I excluded?
Because I held the belief, learnt from my upbringing, that I had to be a certain way for belonging to occur. I had it almost beaten into me. The fear of stepping outside of the rules for acceptance within my home environment, transferred to my life outside of this environment. With the associated dialogue running my script for life EVERY DAY, it became my reality. Even where I may have experienced acceptance, I would turn it around. I became my belief in every area of my life. My lane was inconsistent. There was nothing solid in my life. The slippery slide into anorexia nervosa was inevitable. Belief held = experience lived. Changing the belief to a supportive one saw my experiences in life alter accordingly.
Are you living as I once did? Crossing lanes for acceptance? Then challenge the belief(s) which currently define you, create new supportive ones, be proud of this change, live this…your authentic self awaits you…