I have been lying to myself about various things for a very, long time.
The last ten weeks have really bought things into sharp focus for me and I wonder if you have experienced the same. Everything has come under the microscope in some way and I have been forced to look at the life I have created for myself.
In particular I have had to look at my health, not because I have been unwell but because it has been an area that I have severely overlooked for many years, taking for granted that I am a very healthy being, rarely susceptible to disease. When I got honest with myself I realised that health and wellbeing, aren’t really about the absence of illness.
It turns out that for me it is more about respecting my body and supporting all of its functions so that it can support me in the life I want to create for myself.
I wasn’t doing that at all.
“Responsibility is accepting that you are the cause and the solution of the matter.” – Unknown
I have a whole string of excuses and reasons as to why I have not respected myself enough to prioritise my own wellbeing. This has all come to the foreground recently with my rather insane lockdown decision to attempt the “Couch to 5k”.
I have no idea why this challenge became so important to me. I had started working on the dissipation of some residual trauma just before lockdown and I am sure that it is a culmination of the work I was doing on myself, this challenge and the pandemic, that has created the mindset shift I needed to view my physical wellbeing differently, taking responsibility for what has past and choosing to move forward with deep respect.
I weigh 112kgs. I am neither proud of that, nor ashamed.
It is as it is.
I have spent a long time blaming my weight gain on past trauma, past events and past people.
Initially I blamed the guy who held me up at gunpoint. It was his fault that I hid myself away from the world for 12 months eating my feelings before leaving South Africa. He quite obviously created my lifestyle change. He made the choice to stop me from going out to my normal exercise classes after dark. He force-fed me comfort foods until I had gained 20kgs. He kept me trapped in my own apartment, only going to work and back, avoiding all but three friends and self-soothing with alcohol and binge-watching series. Of course, he did.
My next victim of blame was my traumatic transition back to the UK – not knowing anyone where I had chosen to settle, not having an income, giving up my business success in South Africa, not feeling as though I belonged anywhere. If I am completely honest, I also tried to park some of that blame at my parents’ door too – for a while it was their fault that I had come home. Unsettled and uncertain I did what I knew best and made myself invisible, with more and more padding.
Then came the start of my “structural” problems (funnily enough). I spent 9 months in excruciating pain with a disc bulge pushing into my Cauda Equina, causing leg numbness and sciatica – there was no way I could be expected to manage my weight when I could hardly walk!
I mean seriously, it is obviously beyond my control. How could I be expected to monitor what went into my mouth? And what was the point when I couldn’t exercise anyway?
After 9 months and back surgery I was in recovery – same excuses over, and over again.
After 12 months I was getting myself back to a consistent exercise routine (half-heartedly) when drama struck again – ruptured achilles. Sixteen weeks on a scooter followed with another 9 months in physio. Did that jolt me into changing my habits – not a chance. It just gave me even stronger justifications for not taking any responsibility at all – now I was “unlucky” as well.
Was it “bad luck”?
Surely, they weren’t related – it’s a back and an ankle, they are miles apart. Of course they were – too much pressure put on a skeleton designed to carry 75kgs at most, now being expected to jump around like a 20 year old with nearly 40kgs and 24 years extra, as I took up Netball again.
But none of this was enough to trigger a change in my behaviour.
It did however trigger some quite impressive victim behaviour and a few major pity parties, some of which went on for weeks!
Why is this relevant? Because we all do it.
I was not overweight because of trauma.
I was not overweight because I moved back to the UK and there was a greater variety of scrummy food available to me (conveniently).
I was not overweight because I was lonely.
I was not overweight because I felt unsuccessful.
I was not overweight because of back surgery.
I was not overweight because of an achilles rupture.
“No one is coming to save you. This life is 100% your responsibility.” – Unknown
I was overweight because every day I was making choices that did not respect and love my body and then I was blaming everything I possibly could to avoid having to take any responsibility.
The pandemic has bought this into sharp focus.
The pandemic has prompted personal responsibility.
I am calling it “The Pandemic Perspective”.
The pandemic has asked (quite forcefully) that I re-evaluate pretty much everything and ask myself some tough questions:
Is this who I want to be?
Is this how I want to live?
Is this how I am going to spend the limited time I have on this planet in this form?
Does this way bring me joy?
“The final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.” – Anne Frank
Although I use my weight and wellbeing as the example here – I have glanced a discerning eye at my home, my interests and daily activities, my relationships, my financial affairs, my investment of time, my business structure and services.
I have taken everything apart, without judgement, and I have admitted to myself where my choices have got me the results I am experiencing in each area right now, positively and negatively. I have gone back to basics. I have decided who I want to be.
Back to the girl that loved life, loved others, loved herself and rarely let anything get in her way.
I have made one conscious choice and that is to stop floundering around in fiction, face the cold hard truth, without criticism, and decide how I want it to be different. Then to take consistent action to create a new reality that respects and supports my life. I have decided to focus on the end result and make choices daily that serve my progression towards what I say I want to create; even if that means doing things I don’t fancy right now.
Interestingly, releasing self judgement has allowed me to release the opinions and judgements of others as well, real and perceived. By taking responsibility for myself there was no longer a need for approval, apart from self-approval obviously!
I am now 8 weeks into the “Couch to 5k”.
I have now already run 5.5kms before even reaching the end of the app programme.
I have been running 3 times per week without fail, slowly building success over time and with intent.
It has been hard. I have needed mental strength and resilience. I have needed to remind myself of the end goal and encourage myself to choose what is in my highest good, not what is easiest.
I have said ‘yes’ to the future version of myself and ‘no’ to the habits of yesterday.
(PS. I still actively dislike the activity of running however I will persist as I enjoy the sense of achievement gained at the end of each week, appreciating how amazing my body is for being able to go the distance without changing one bit in terms of weight and the growing respect I have for myself, demonstrated in the changes to my self talk and how I choose to nourish my body).
“The moment you accept responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you gain the power to change anything in your life.” – Hal Elrod
Whether consciously or not we have all been asked to look at and take responsibility for our actions of late.
It might be that we have felt the pinch of debt and not having sufficient savings to support us through a time of crisis.
It might be that we have taken shortcuts in the past with equipment, only now realising the value of making sound investments every time, regardless of the price.
It might be that we have had to home school, taking personal responsibility for our involvement in the education of others.
It might be that we have had to take responsibility for things that we have put off in the past that would have ensured greater security in the present had we just done them in the first instance.
We have also had to take responsibility for the direct consequences of our choices.
We have had to consciously decide where we go and the risks involved, narrowing the probability, and negotiating the possibility, of becoming a virus vector. We have had to face the potential consequences of catching it ourselves and passing it to another without knowing the severity of the impact. We have been constantly evaluating our actions in terms of potential outcome to self and others.
We have had to make hard choices.
We have had to prepare ourselves to live with the primary and secondary consequences of all our decisions.
We have all had to face the facts.
“Accept responsibility for your actions. Be accountable for your results. Take ownership of your mistakes.” – Unknown
Our fictitious ways have not stood the test of this reality – it is obvious that there are certain things that need to change.
The next step is choice.
Personal power comes from combining responsibility and choice.
So, will you choose power or powerlessness?
Will you choose to build? Or will you continue to blame?
At some point, surely, we must stop blaming the world, everyone else and past versions of ourselves for our current circumstances. At some point, we must stop referring back to what was, in order to excuse or justify what is.
I am not saying it is easy – believe me, I get it – but I also believe we all have the capacity to move beyond our restrictive narratives. I believe we can choose to focus on the things that are within our power to change and that by consistently choosing positive progressive action, upon positive progressive action, we can build towards the end result that we desire, thus creating the future reality we truly want to be living.
“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” – George Bernard Shaw
Many see responsibility as something that is restrictive, a ball and chain, the thing that holds us back.
I see personal responsibility as freedom.
It is liberating to face up to the honest truth of fact and let go of fiction.
When we take complete responsibility for ourselves, our thoughts, our feelings, our actions, our choices, and the role we play in the evolution of our reality; when we evaluate our life in terms of how we are complicit in manifesting the exact things we say we do not want and recognise how we sabotage the creation of the things that we say we do want; when we acknowledge our contribution and then choose actions that alter our reality to align with the truth of who we are and how we express that into the world –
That is freedom.
The freedom to be inexcusably you, standing in your power, making the choices that take you toward joy and release you from shame, blame and guilt – emotions rendered pointless by acknowledging and accepting responsibility for the consequences of all decisions. A display of courage, affirming that it is absolutely within your power to change all the things you believe you are responsible for.
This is the transformation.
The one you really need to make.
Get clear on what you are really responsible for, and what is within your power to change.
Then decide. No more lies.
Focus on the end result, and align your daily actions with making progress towards this new reality.
The sooner you start the sooner you will actively experience the power of co-creation and just how much you can influence your tomorrow.