I wanted to share with you a little bit today around trusting yourself and being yourself. This is a really important topic to me, and it’s not one that I would’ve said a few years ago was an important topic for health and wellness, but it is such an important topic for health and wellness. In fact, I think it’s actually one of the core underlying beliefs, and it’s very much connected to self-compassion, which I’ve said over and over again is key in health and wellness. So let me tell you a little story first. Maybe that will help as we get started.
So I feel like one of my really big challenges over the course of my life has been connecting to who am I; I’ve really been looking at this. I think it wasn’t a big question until, well, let me take that back. When I was young, I remember just sobbing in my bed being maybe six or seven years old and my father coming in and I just saying like, “Why am I here?” and “What is my purpose?” My dad was like, what am I supposed to do with this child who’s asking this question and you know, and he said “I ask myself the same question. I don’t have the answer.” So, going back then, and even in my twenties saying like, what, what is this life, who are we, how did this all happen?
Big metaphysical, psychological questions, right. I think it’s why I was drawn into psychology in undergraduate. I wanted to know why our brain does the things it does. Why do the things we do? I’m always fascinated by people.
What I noticed in my own life is that I spent much of my life without really recognizing that I would choose particular clothing based on who I was going to be around. “Oh, this outfit is for people I see at the university, they would not appreciate this other outfit. So I gotta, I gotta wear my kind of my UGA outfit, my University of Georgia outfit” (That’s my other position, as an associate professor at the University of Georgia, in case you aren’t familiar with it). And then there’s, oh, well I’m going to be around yoga people. They would wear this particular set of clothes, right? I’m a yoga instructor. Oh, I’m going to a mindfulness conference. This is what I can wear to that. Or I’m gonna be hanging out at home. I can wear this then. Oh, people are gonna see me. I need to wear this.
And what I notice is that’s just like one little glimpse into how much I was shifting and changing who I was in order to be “accepted.” In order to feel like I belonged in order to slide, into whatever I needed to, whatever environment I was gonna be in. And what happened was over the course of many, many years of doing that, I really didn’t feel like I had a sense for who I was, what I wanted, what I liked, what I enjoyed and that is it, it can, you know, be really disconcerting when someone says, “Just do what you love. Just be yourself.”
And as a person who has had trauma in life and I have codependent traits where it’s like, oh, I just have to fit in. I just have to make that happen. And the way that I decreased anxiety was to do those things so that I knew I would fit in. When somebody says, just be yourself, it sounds so easy, breezy. And yet that can cause a great deal of anxiety. Who am I, what am I doing? What do I like? It became a big question that seemed like it would be a small task, but it was a really big question.
Over the last, probably five or six years, I have really grown and listened to not just what the university wanted or what people I was around wanted, but also what society was telling me, I should and should not like. It’s pretty common to have coffee in the morning. I don’t like coffee. I am not a coffee drinker. I have, I mean, I think I drank coffee in college when I was studying for exams, but more out of a necessity than a, like, I definitely didn’t like it. And I was more of a sugar addict, so I would drink soda instead.I drank a Coke- that was my drug of choice. I also tried to fit in, in terms of what I should drink.
Oh, people were drinking [alcohol]. I should drink. Oh, I didn’t wanna be the only one out, not drinking. So this plays in a lot to what I see with my clients is that there’s this societal pressure of what we should do and how we should be. There’s the family type pressure of what we should do and how we should be. And then there’s often this underlying kind of essential self of who we *really* are. That’s there as well. So there’s the social self and the essential self, the essential self is this capital S self who we, who we really are and how, how we show up in the world are authentic selves. So if you were like me thinking, I don’t even know what my authentic self is.
That can cause a lot of challenges to the questions, “What do I really want?” or “What am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to eat?” Or “What is the right healthy lifestyle?” So for me, I was always looking for the “right” way. Again, the “right way” around food and nutrition, the more I am exploring and accepting who I am, the, the more I am able to feel solid in the choices that I make, no matter what they are.For example, I remember probably close to 20 years ago. I remember just being like, you know what? I actually really like red. I like the color red. I want a red car , which seems silly. But what I had heard from my family was don’t stand out, don’t take those big risks and to have a red car felt like not the professional thing to do.
These are the stories that my brain tells me. So being yourself can be really scary and take some practice. That can be a really huge leap, right?! It can be very scary and it can be a huge leap. So as I’m practicing this more and more, I can ask “How do I really want to spend my day? What does sound really good to me instead of looking externally to what other people say should be done.” As I’m in the online space, certain people post on Facebook and Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter in certain ways. And I’m really exploring how I want to show up. Asking, “Who am I and how can I be more me every day?”
For years I was exploring, changing my diet, really about 25 years ago. Then again, 15 years ago, and then again, like 10 ago. Each time there’s avshift and a change. 25 years ago, I was exploring being a vegetarian. I had been a meat eater. I was raised a meat eater and I was exploring, what is it that feels good to me? Do I want to eat meat? I was, it was a question that most people don’t ask. I wanted to ask that question because I was following Thich Naht Hahn. And he was saying, it doesn’t matter. As long as you’re mindful, mindful of the animals who have given their lives for you, mindful of the vegetables that have been farmed, the farmer who created that, the sun that created that, that is the important piece of it. So as I started sitting with the animals that gave their lives for me, I realized I could no longer eat animals. That was just not something in my heart that I could do.
And, that was a big challenge to society and to my family system. They’ve always been supportive of me, and there was a little bit of, but we don’t understand. We don’t understand why you would do that. And why are you being so weird? Why are you having to do that? And to be able to say, this is important to me, and this is how I’m living my life. This is how I choose to live my life. And no matter what the other pressure was, I was very solid in that. That was one of the first pieces where I felt really solid in what I was doing, because it resonated with me. And not because it definitely isn’t the easy path, right? It’s not societally easy, especially 25 years ago. It’s not a societal norm. It was not really accepted. It’s much more mainstream now.
And then, you know, the next road was looking at sugar and really cutting sugar out of my life. That was a big step I had to do in graduate school. That was also about 25 years ago for my health and cutting out gluten was next because my son was reacting to gluten. And it was like, well, I don’t care what you think. I know what’s best for my child, because the difference between him eating gluten and him not eating gluten was night and day. I could see physically, mentally, emotionally, what was happening. And then I felt it in my own body. I was solid in that belief because I experienced that.
People say, well, what about parties? What about changing my diet and going to parties? I don’t think I can do that. I was so solid in my belief about what I wanted. I had to get solid in that belief to be able to go to a party and say, no, I don’t want alcohol. No, I’m not gonna eat that cake. It wasn’t like, “oh, I shouldn’t” (again, those quotes), I shouldn’t do it. But instead it was, I prefer feeling good. I prefer my body feeling well over what other people think about me. And let me tell you for a former people pleaser, a still evolving people pleaser, that was huge. When my clients say, “I can’t give up cheese, that’s my whole family, we eat cheese fondue every Friday night. That’s our thing. How am I gonna give up cheese?” or “How am I gonna give up gluten we pizza. I love pizza, pizza and cheese, you know, gluten and cheese.”
And again, I think it goes back to telling yourself, “well, what if I just try this and see if I feel better.” When you’re first starting and also asking, what do I want now, it can put you in a spin? What does society say I should have; but really exploring, trusting yourself, really exploring your own wants and desires. If you want to feel healthy, that might be a greater right desire than wanting to fit in. For me, I found that that was like one of the few things that actually spurred me over the edge was me feeling well. Again, I was willing to have people look at me funny. When I brought in my own little meal thing to parties- I wanna go to a party, but I don’t want to eat gluten, dairy, and sugar. So what do I do? Well, I bring my own food. Then I get to go to the party and I get to have food. That feels good to me.
There’s most people, you know, especially people I work with now, they’re like, oh, there’s Rebecca with her food. Yeah. We know it’s not a big deal. I even bring it into restaurants and I have no problem saying, as long as you can provide me with a gluten free, dairy free, egg free meal, I’ll be glad to purchase from you. And some owners have no problem. We can’t give you that, so eat out of your little tupperware and some owners have a hard time, but I always, you know, especially when it came to my children, I was very mama bear about it. Like you tell me to leave and I’ll tell you, my child is allergic to this, which they were, and I’m gonna stand up for us being able to eat out at a safe place with our family. Because everybody else wanted to eat out. Totally fine. We’ve got our food.
So what I see is this in health, trusting yourself, being yourself, can sometimes bring up big emotions. Can sometimes bring up big questions. And it’s often why I don’t necessarily start with changing food right away with my clients. We don’t just jump into like, here’s all the things you should eat because, um, there are big, you know, I don’t the word that keeps coming up to mind is like the, the first chakra, right? That sense of belonging, of being a part of a group. And when we think “uh oh, if I don’t eat that, I won’t be part of a group.” It brings up a lot of past trauma. It brings up a lot of emotions. It brings up a lot of beliefs about what is, who am I? I’m a person who eats cheese pizza. Well maybe, but what if you are just this energetic dynamic person and it doesn’t really have to do with what you eat.
What if you can be super fun without eating cheese pizza? What if you can go and be who you are and know that you, yourself will accept who you are no matter what anybody else says that my friends is the big $64,000 question (that doesn’t seem like nearly enough. Now it’s the big million dollar question) of who, and how can you be okay with who you are no matter what anyone else thinks, how is that possible for you? And then it translates to all the other things, right? How you mother, your children or father your children, how you choose what you eat, what you use, what you wear, how you show up in an online space, right? It’s not the energy of “Screw you. I’m gonna be me.” It’s this calm centered place of “I’m showing up as me. And I support myself no matter what.“ That’s the place that is so powerful with any change you wanna make in your life. And when you’re firmly rooted in that change, when you’re firmly rooted in that belief, in that stance, all the other changes become easier. Maybe not easy but easier, right? There’s still challenges. There’s still work and they can be way more graceful filled with ease and grace.
So that’s part of the work that I do is helping you trust yourself. It’s something, as I said, that I have been intimately associated with is learning how to trust myself, learning how to be authentic in who I really am, learning how to listen to what that is, what my heart wants, what my soul wants. And that’s what I want for you– learning to listen to who you are and what you want. So if you are interested in taking those steps of really uncovering and learning to trust yourself again, I would love to be able to support you. I have either single sessions, Seed Moment Healing sessions. And I also offer a Vibrant health package that is a three month package of working together to trust yourself, to really cultivate self-compassion and to make the changes in your life that will lead you to an amazingly vibrant, healthy life. Okay dear ones, thank you so much for listening. And please feel free to share this episode. I would love to get this out to more people. What we need in this world is more people who are authentic, listening to themselves, and trusting themselves. Take good care of yourself.