Thursday, January 29, 2009

Taking Out John Shooter

Have you ever seen Hide and Seek or The Secret Window? (Spoiler Alert if you haven't!) In both movies, the protagonist is plagued by menacing, murderous characters who spend the lion share of the movie wreaking havoc; in both movies the protagonist discovers that he has multiple personalities and has been committing murders and creating general mayhem all by himself. In other words, the protagonist is his own worst enemy.

Sound cliche to you? Well it is for a reason. While we often think we have the best intentions for ourselves, many of us are constantly committing little acts of self sabotage and looking for John Shooter to saddle with the blame. This, I believe, is my most frequently and consequentially committed offense. Whatever the root cause of my difficulty--fear of success, failure or change--I have a tendency to stand tall in my own way and then paste an acceptable label failure. I have learned to weave such a tapestry of excuses that I am frequently left feeling blameless or even victimized.

I couldn't lose weight this week because of work or the holidays or bad weather or oral surgery or an alien invasion. The truth? I didn't lose weight because of my choices. While all of those other things may have made it more difficult to make good choices, they did not make it impossible so they can't be blamed for my setbacks. The solution for me, the way out of this mess I've made of my body, must lie in reframing my world and changing my thinking. It seems to me that I have always been the sort of person who viewed all hurdles big and small as insurmountable obstacles in my path. Within seconds of learning about a bump in the road, I've brainstormed an inclusive list of all its potential repercussions and have determined that it is impossible to proceed.

I noticed this most recently with regards to my educational goals. I am unbelievably fortunate enough to work for an employer which pays for every penny of my graduate school tuition up to six credits a semester. I've taken advantage of that and have been working to earn an MS in rehabilitation counseling for the past three years. I've worked hard and sacrificed a lot of time in my evenings to make this happen. However, I've now reached the point in my program at which, starting next week, I have to begin meeting with actual living, breathing clients and putting what I've learned to use.

While this should be an incredible moment for me, I've been absolutely petrified. I've been acting like a caged animal and have actually very seriously considered quitting graduate school or taking a semester off. I'm so painfully aware of my own shortcomings that I'm terrified that I won't be able to help people or rather that I will do some serious harm. I've been absolutely paralyzed with fear, certain that after all this time and energy, I'll discover that I don't like counseling or worst of all that I'm not capable of doing it.

However, cooped up in the house yesterday because of an ice storm, I had a lot of time to think. My first instinct was to dive into the fridge to divert my attention from my problem, but I new that would only make me feel worse. I tried to set aside my fears and consider the situation logically. After a lot of reflection, I realized the following:
  1. Even if I'm not the best at counseling, I know I'll improve with a semester of supervision;
  2. With a genuine interest in helping people it's unlikely that I'll be as bad as I expect;
  3. Even discovering that I am incapable of being a competent counselor would be valuable because I would have an opportunity to rethink the direction of my life;
  4. If I run from this now, it will just become harder to face frightening situations in the future.

I know this is exceptionally long winded, and you're probably thinking, "this is a weight loss blog; what the hell does this have to do with weight loss?" so I'll get to the point. Deconstructing my problem and looking at it logically has had an incredible calming effect and has stopped me from making a huge mistake--quitting so I won't have a chance to fail. Instead, I'm now viewing something that had so completely terrified me as a challenge that, regardless of the outcome, will make me a better woman than I am today.

I know the value of this. Being able to alter the way you think and, in doing so, alter the way you feel can give you the power to change your life. Therefore, I'm resolving to shine a light on all the dark corners of my soul and to dismantle my excuses for not losing weight and living the life I want to live!

8 comments:

new*me said...

Cheers to helping you shine the light! Love both of those movies ;)

Ria said...

If your insightful & inspiring analysis of your own situation is any indication, you certainly have the skills to help your clients . . . and having struggled with how hard it is to change yourself, I'm sure you have the empathy & compassion to be a really great counselor.

You go girl - I'm looking forward to following along as you reach ALL your goals this year!

Michelle said...

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Lyn said...

Very insightful. It really does come down to small, individual choices we make every day. Each choice is a step closer to or further away from our goals. Great post!

jh said...

What you wrote is truly inspiring. It is interesting that changing the way you think is harder than anything else but when you do it, when you take responsibility for choices and don't opt into excuses, it actually frees you up and allows your best self to work on making the life you want. Good job--thank you.

jh
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Camevil said...

This kind of intense self-reflection cannot be found in any diet book or the newest "walk yourself thin" article in any given women's magazine.

Part of being healthy is exercising the brain in addition to the body.


*applause*

Gemfit said...

That's a major insight and really, without a moment like that, it's difficult to move forward and 'see the light'. Kudos. Be strong - with grad school and with weight loss (or rather, being healthy).

I like to think that we're all in control of our lives - by taking back that control, we are sure to reach our goals. :)

Karyn said...

I am so in awe of your ability to face your fears (without diving into the fridge) and counter them with good, common sense.

The following quote from your post shows great insight, huge mind change, and is, I believe, a marker that you WILL succeed in changing your life this time!!!

"The truth? I didn't lose weight because of my choices. While all of those other things may have made it more difficult to make good choices, they did not make it impossible so they can't be blamed for my setbacks. The solution for me, the way out of this mess I've made of my body, must lie in reframing my world and changing my thinking."

Celebrate these kinds of mind changes as much as any scale victory!