I have a difficult time following others advice if it does not fit in with the stories I believe about myself. The difficult thing is that many of them don’t feel like stories. It feels true that I am too fat. It feels true that I am disgusting. The problem with disbelieving these truths is that it makes me question all of my stories. Nice stories, like I am a good mother. I am a good friend. I am intelligent. I am a hard worker. Are these just stories too?
I have pondered this dilemma many times over the past year. How does one know when to follow the wisdom and advice of others rather than what feels so right to oneself? I have come up with a number of questions to ask myself that I hope will help me sort it out. I could ask myself If I am right and yet follow the advice of another does it have the potential to cause harm to myself or others? Is my story supportable by the facts? Does my truth serve my highest good? Does my story create fear or troublesome emotions? Does that fear serve me well?
I do know that I am able to follow the directions of others even if I can’t be certain it will lead exactly where I want to go. I walk in the preserves near my home nearly every day. There is constant change there. Usually I stay on the main path because it is predicatable and I can know where I will end up and how long it will take to get there. It is totally safe. Sometimes I go totally off trail and many times have gotten lost in the woods in this way. But I have always made it back to civilization in one piece – possible scratched and dirty and one time in the middle of the night after a hair raising night in the swamps of Texas!!! I don’t set out to create those experiences but I value them after the fact. Frequently I follow the pink ribbons.
Between these two extremes, which certainly parallel the extremes of my eating habits – starvation or binging is another path that I take often. Like I said, there is constant change in the preserve and part of that process is the creation of new trails. These trails are scouted out by someone else and the trees along these paths are marked by pink ribbons on trees and bushes along its planned trajectory. Without any fear I follow the pink ribbons. I enjoy the less travelled way and like looking for the next ribbon and try to figure out exactly where the ribboned path will lead me. Trusting that it will lead me safely to a known point where I can follow the well worn path of the common trail.
Does my story that I am fat and disgusting serve me well? No,it leaves me discouraged and does not lead to healthy behaviors. Is it true? Oh boy…that one I will have follow the pink ribbon on. People who know me say it is not true. Even more important to me is the fact that it is not what I value in others or in myself. What harm may there be if I follow the pink ribbon of eating sufficient calories, not binging, and not purging? The biggest harm would be gaining weight. What harm is there in following my own well worn path of starvation and purging? Death or poor health, unhappiness, depression, divorce, medical expenses, the list could continue. Does my fear of gaining weight serve me well? Since the result is the list i just made, no, it does not.
My new story. I can choose to follow others advice if their advice is in line with my values and has the potential to aid in my desire to live a rich, full and meaningful life.