30 days to rid my body of all the toxins that seeped back in over the past month or so. 30 days to get rid of the sugar addiction. 30 days to cure me of the bad habits I so easily fell back into. I am hunkering down, committing myself and detoxing.
I’m excited about my cleanse because I can feel my body craving to be healthier. I look at healthy food and my mouth waters and the sight of cookies and candy and big heavy meals exhausts me. I have overdosed and my body is telling me it is time to switch. This is not a new phenomenon as, every year, after the holidays I go through the same pattern. My body yells in its loudest voice “STOP!” and, sometimes, I pay attention. Sometimes I am too busy shoving crap into my mouth to hear the screams from within.
As I sit here drinking my first protein shake and fiber supplement, I can’t help but wonder how I could dedicate the same attention to a spiritual cleanse. I am so ready to break some troubling patterns of behavior and I know it requires the same level of commitment and exercise as this cleanse. However, it is so much easier for me to strip down my caloric intake and consumption of foods I enjoy. Sure, I get grumpy and have cravings but I persevere. How do I apply the same principles to my emotional behaviors? I am trying to develop a daily practice that will enable me to take a little personal inventory allowing me to maintain an awareness of my behaviors. I so easily become numb to my feelings and distract myself when I am feeling sad or anxious. Instead, I need to embrace these feelings and work with them, rather than stifling them, shoving them away, rejecting them. They are just as much a part of me as my feelings of joy and comfort. They are the yin to my yang. They are part of my complete picture.
In my coaching group, I led the women in my group through guided journaling with a regular daily practice of acknowledging their feelings of gratitude and disappointment for the day. This enabled them to understand the highs and lows of each day and use that information to help them with their journeys. I do the same thing with my children at dinner each night. Since my older son was in preschool we would ask him, and then his brother as he got older, to share two good and one bad thing from his day. This is a practice that has become commonplace in our house and when we have dinner guests, we ask them to participate. We began this ritual to help our children share more detailed information about their days and it has become an important part of our daily routine. Nowadays, we still use it to gather data that they otherwise might not share and, with their growing maturity, it provides my children with an opportunity to process important information about themselves that might be difficult or confusing. We get to discuss things together and acknowledge that life is continually filled with ups and down and all of it is critical.
I’m ashamed to admit that I have not engaged in this exercise individually, even as I have led my group or shared with my family. I have not taken a deeper look at what it guiding me both from a positive and negative standpoint on a daily basis. It is usually only after I hit a speed bump that I reflect back and try to understand the challenges that I was facing at that time. In order for me to truly change the behaviors that I am looking to get rid of, I need to be extremely present and conscious of what is happening at all times. That requires me to feel my feelings when they show up and process them rather than running from them or shooing them away like an annoying pest. I know myself well enough that when I squash my feelings again and again, they show up in the most unpleasant ways. It is that behavior that creates emotional reactions. It is that disrespect for myself that I lash out at and create self-sabotaging behaviors.
So, baby steps. There is no kit or package I can purchase to cleanse my soul. It is a much more arduous task but one that I am ready for. It requires me to tap into some excellent skills that I already possess (but sometimes forget that I have). For today, I am going to commit myself to start journaling. I am going to take stock in my gratitude and disappointments daily. I am going to take that information and work with it.
This is a good first step. I encourage all of you to do the same!