Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ate too much again? How to forgive yourself.

I just listened to a really insightful interview facilitated by Trevor Justice of the Vegetarian Health Institute with Dr. Felicia Williams, a psychologist who specializes in helping people around emotional eating. In the interview, she explains how to overcome the guilt, blame and shame that so many of us feel around eating, especially when we eat or binge because we're feeling stressed or negative. Perfect timing! I'm in Italy right now, surrounded by and gorging on delicious way-too-decadent food right now. Her suggestion? Look at what you're eating, but to also look at what's eating you. Oh boy, that probably means my own self-judgment and guilt about it...

She said a few beautiful things about forgiving and accepting ourselves that I just had to share. Because when we can find it in ourselves to forgive and accept, we can really heal from the inside out. I share with you some of her wisdom and techniques:

1. Forgiveness is the path to acceptance, and acceptance is the doorway to freedom.

2. UNforgiving weighs you down like a ball and chain... and it's hard to fly when you're tied down.

3. Forgiving yourself or others is not the same thing as condoning, forgetting or agreeing with them or their behavior, it's really about choosing not to let the pain of what happened determine who you are or to let it run the rest of your life. Choose to let go of the hold it has on you. Look at the lesson you got from the experience, say thank you, and goodbye.

How can we go about forgiving ourselves? It's not always so simple in practice, I'll admit, but it IS so incredibly freeing. What do you want to unshackle from?

Dr. Williams offers this 3-step process:

1. Think about: Who do I need to forgive? Maybe it's yourself. Maybe it's a family member.

2. What do I need to forgive them for? Voice it, write it down.

3. Breathe deeply into the place that feels painful. Breathe out and say out loud, "I release. I let go." Continue to breathe and release. Declare "I am free." Say it as much as you need to. Forgive as much as you need to.

I need to forgive myself for judging myself about the foods I'm eating that aren't "healthy". C'mon, Alex, reality check: you're on vacation. And even when I'm not, it's OK not to be perfect. Not every single bite has to be green and clean. I love food.

Sometimes I find myself having the most miserable time when I'm preoccupied with obsessing about what foods I "should" and "shouldn't" eat. When I'm eating with family or friends, it can be best to forgive myself in advance for not eating "perfectly" (whatever that means), but for making the best choice I can given the situation, so that I can relax, enjoy the food I am eating fully, and focus on the beautiful people around me.

So: I forgive myself for not eating the most healthy food all of the time because it means I am released and free to ENJOY myself, my food and my company. Wow. That wasn't so bad. Next time might be tougher... but for now I'm going to have more fresh pasta!

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