Why do you truly do what it is that you do?
There are the reasons that we think underlie our decisions.
Then there are the real reasons–the reasons that we might be afraid to cop to, because being real about them means being more transparent, and transparency is scary.
Let’s start with one that I know that millions of women struggle with, every day: food.
You want to know how badass I am? I’ve done sugar-free detoxes. When I say “sugar-free,” I mean “sugar-free,” as in, not even bread, because most bread contains sugar. I have heard former drug users say that it was harder for them to do a sugar detox than it was to quit hard drugs.
There are two reasons that I spent so much time, money, and energy on these resources.
One is the reason that I would have told you: I knew that something was up with my health, despite doctors saying all was well. Just recently, I even found blood work from 2008 that confirms that I wasn’t crazy, and that things were all wonky even back then, but the doctors at the time overlooked it and said my blood work was normal.
I turned to alternative medicine and extreme health–like trying sugar free detoxes–for very real reasons. I was/have been sick.
But…there was another reason why I did all of this, and it wasn’t one I would have admitted to: I wanted to be “good.”
When I read about someone else’s plan for “clean living” and “feeling good” and “having vibrant energy,” I bought into the marketing.
Yes, I was doing everything I was doing for health reasons.
I also realize, only now, that on some level I was also trying to detoxify and cleanse my way to salvation.
If I followed the rules and only ate and drank what I was “supposed” to, the “clean” foods, then I was a good little girl who was…well, “clean” so to speak. There was a part of me wrapped up in trying to be “good” through food.
After officially receiving this auto-immune diagnosis and learning that going dairy and gluten-free were likely to help, I immediately did that. It definitely helped my energy levels, and now, when people ask me if I (personally) would recommend it, I say “Yes.”
But here’s the thing–the thing I could only realize now that being dairy- and gluten-free is so utterly ordinary in my life:
You take yourself with you, wherever you go.
Before making these changes because I truly needed to, I would have romanticized ditching dairy and gluten. I would have made it into this “thing,” this representative of how “disciplined” I was. I might not ever have said that to you, but deep down, I would have felt some kind of weird “pride” in having ditched dairy and gluten and switched to “clean eating.”
Perhaps I would have done an “X Day cleanse,” or made a spreadsheet for myself to track at home, so that I could see myself lining up check marks.
(Thank GOD I am past the phase in my life where I would have blogged every detail of doing such a cleanse, and Instagram-ed photos of my meals, eh?).
If I had turned this change into an event, I’d have read a lot of books about “how” to go gluten- and dairy-free. I would have lamented to friends the difficulties in finding food that I could eat.
Instead, because it was something I needed to do to be healthy, I just…did it.
And now, being gluten- and dairy-free?
Good gravy. It’s just so utterly ordinary. It’s breakfast with gluten-free cereals and coconut milk. It’s quinoa pasta. It’s the gluten-free menu at my favorite local restaurant. It’s lots of vegetables.
It’s just…food. I hardly even think about it. I can assess a restaurant menu in about thirty seconds to see what I can eat and how to ask the chef to prepare if it I need something excluded.
As the Italians, the ultimate foodies, say, “Molto semplice.”
So why do you do what you do?
Maybe you’ve thought of starting a meditation practice. A courage practice. A gratitude practice. A forgiveness practice.
Maybe you’re going to go vegan for 21 days, or do a juice fast, or go organic.
Perhaps you’re going to do a Bikram marathon, or run a real marathon, or do a Tough Mudder.
Whatever it is that you do–know why it is that you’re doing it. What’s the real motivation? What do you really think you’re getting from the doing?
If you’re doing it to be “good,” you’re never going to get to “good.” The goodness just isn’t in the doing. All the doing in the world, if it’s done to “get good,” just pushes you farther from good.
Why? Because goodness is you.
You’re Already Good
Doing things to “be good” just reinforces a mentality that you are not good, already.
You’re already good, whether you meditate every day or don’t, whether you eat a “clean” diet or don’t, whether you go to yoga or don’t.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with seeing places where something isn’t working in your life, and making a choice that’s the healthier choice.
I just want to invite you, as I’ve been inviting myself, to notice that line that can get crossed.
Feeling like a badass because you complete a sugar-free detox is pretty awesome.
Not recognizing the parts of you that already ARE pretty hot-shit, cleanse or no cleanse? Not so awesome. Thinking that sugar-free (or any other diet change) is your road to salvation? Not so badass.
How to begin?
Investigate the truth of the Stories that you tell yourself. Meditate upon the question: “Why am I doing this?” Why do you do what you do, say what you say, act how you act?
Wherever you’re trying to feel “good”? Just feel good, because you are good.
Drop the lie–that “doing something” means you’ve achieved “goodness.”
You already are the goodness that you seek.