These tests wear many faces, and are analogous to the reasons I make resolutions in the first place. The only difference is the chronology. It takes practice—or a lot of failure—to understand a lesson in its many masks.
One week following my first published article on YT, I was feeling pretty great about where I was headed. I had written something I was proud of, and was on the cusp of getting my life in balance. I envisioned all the ways I was going to be better. I was going to cut my hair in a bold new style, develop professionally, I was back at the gym four times a week, and I was about to embark on a new healthy eating regimen to lose 20 pounds and feel better in my body.
So, I hired a professional offering a holistic diet and fitness routine customized to each individual. In my mind, it was the key to getting where I needed to be. I had convinced myself if I changed how I looked on the outside, it would improve how I felt on the inside. All because I followed the rules someone set up for me.
Sound familiar? I had hired myself a guru and expected everything in my life to change. In retrospect, I did exactly what I had cautioned against in my first article for YT. But I felt like I was having a Connect-the-Dots moment (a.k.a. synchronicity), and I went for it. After all, I thought the universe was saying, This is a sign! Do it!
In her defense, my guru didn’t know I had assigned her that status. Like any teacher, she had a way of shaping her clients that worked. It worked for my coworker and countless others. I wanted it to work for me.
I embarked on the diet with wariness. I didn’t expect her prescription to be so extreme. While I had no problem cutting out flours, sugar, and gluten, I didn’t expect to eat 70% of my calories from protein and fat. If there’s one thing I am, it’s a meat-lover, but I’m also a produce-lover and there weren’t many veggies and fruits making it into my belly. But being that an “expert” told me to do it, I did it…and immediately regretted it.
When my guru assigned minimal veggies and insisted I portion everything to the ounce, it eliminated the joy I found in food and made food a job. The irony is, before I began her diet, I felt like all I did was think about eating. I ate when I was bored, sad, procrastinating, and celebratory. Now I was not bored, excited, or sad. I was jittery, anxious, and increasingly emotional, with mood swings unlike anything I had experienced when I’d given up sugar and cut calories in the past.
I knew something was wrong. And when I told my guru, she said it was detoxification. But it was, in fact, low blood sugar. When I fixed the timing of my meals, the jittery feelings went away. But my spirit didn’t feel better. I was miserable.
An inkling of a suspicion was confirmed when I cried, in dismay, to my mother on the phone: I had given over my power. I was so overwhelmed by all the information out there (the plethora of “new gurus” that I talked about last month), I was at a loss of what to do. I looked for an easy answer, a quick fix, someone to tell me what to do to feel better.[blockquote author=”” pull=”normal”]”…I was so overwhelmed by all the information out there… I was at a loss of what to do. I looked for an easy answer, a quick fix, someone to tell me what to do to feel better.”[/blockquote]
And I thought the universe put it at my feet. This type of experience had worked for me ten years prior when I lost 65 pounds after a kinesiologist radically changed my diet from uber-processed to whole foods-oriented. This new diet resembled my tried-and-true attempt at forcing growth through an imposed structure.
I didn’t see it that way at the time, though. I saw it as synchronicity leading me to success. Little did I know, the roller coaster of life I had described for YT just a week earlier was reminding me that it still has the power to upend me. The ah-ha moment of weight-loss through diet didn’t generate the revelatory joy I had expected (i.e., feeling and looking fabulous).
The diet wasn’t my ah-ha moment—trying the diet was. I wasn’t learning how to be slimmer or eat better. I was experiencing a test of my new convictions. Deep down, I knew I had made the wrong choice, that this wouldn’t work as it had ten years ago. Instinctively, I knew this was a face-off between the old habit of self-willing, versus the new mode of self-honoring. I was failing—but I was definitely learning.
The week of learning was long. I think of it like a cross-country road trip—interesting at times, sometimes boring, and often interminable. If there were a soundtrack to accompany my journey, it would be predominantly garbled. Each song would be a phase of my development, a mindset. I knew what song I was looking for, but I couldn’t recognize it through the static. My antenna wasn’t accustomed to tuning in to this new station, this new mindset.
Historically, my antenna was tuned to classic rock stations—songs that had been there my whole life, like “It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me” by Billy Joel. Just the beat brought the lyrics to my mind. It was comforting, familiar, and safe. Then, there was my most recent “pump me up” song. Its excited beat drowns out the classics, making me feel in control, powerful, and cocky—sort of like the first time I heard “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars. Like so many other hits from the past, I couldn’t get enough of it…until I got tired of it. Then, I was back to the tried-and-true classic rock.
Quietly, there has always been the timeless song of self-honoring, music that is the core essence of my spirit and my inner resource. The melody can be easily missed, its expert pianist crafting a harmony that vibrates undisturbed, past all my barriers, to the core of my being.
Lost in a sea of self-will and confusion, the songs competed for my attention. I wanted to hear the song of my core essence, and at moments I could hear what I thought was the right note. My ears would perk up immediately to its tonality but the sound was swiftly overrun by the beat of my old drum and the rhythm of my latest hit favorite. I couldn’t make sense of the sounds; it was a cacophony of noise and every song beckoned me with its call.
I was feeling miserable and lost, and didn’t know what was the right thing to do. Should I adjust the diet? Should I keep doing what the guru told me, even though my heart was screaming out in protest? Should I tough it out to prove a point? My ego did not want to be wrong so quickly. How would I look? I would be weak: a quitter.[blockquote author=”” pull=”normal”]”I needed the song of my life, the timeless composition of sound: my inner resource.”[/blockquote]
I knew the only choice I had was to keep driving and trust the road would eventually lead me to the radio station, the mindset, I was seeking. I needed the song of my life, the timeless composition of sound: my inner resource. But a soft piano is easily drowned out by the enthralling and seductive pulse of contemporary music. I had to wait it out, listen carefully, and pay attention.
Before I knew it, I had found the right station. The music of my spirit was playing gloriously through the speakers, and I knew what I had to do. I quit the diet and acknowledged the truth. The only way I was going to change my habits was with hard work brought forth from my inner self. To fill the holes in my spirit with love and compassion, so that I might halt the seeking of comfort with food. No matter the rules I produce, no matter how seductive the solution in front of me, the only way I move forward is by being fully honest and true to myself. I do this by using the language of love that has been with me from the beginning: the timeless soul soothing melody of the song of self-honoring.