Saturday, April 28, 2012

That whole "good enough" thing...

That whole not feeling "good enough" thing... the concept really gets to me sometimes. Sometimes I feel it is self-induced, sometimes I feel like its encouraged by outsiders. Either way, I suppose, its my choice and its my responsibility to choose the way I feel about myself.

Society and those within it always have something to say. Isn't that the truth? Sometimes its people you know, people you'd like to know, people you'd like to not know... always someone. There is always someone or some billboard or some advertisement that wants to get in our sensitive heads. They point out that there is just always something missing...

But, what is it? What's missing?

Let's talk about what "good enough" means. Or, does it even have a meaning? Could you look it up in the dictionary and find one? Let's see:

Good: of favorable character or tendency; attractive; pleasant; competent; useful

Enough: as much or as many as needed; adequate; sufficient for the purpose

Perfect: flawless and faultless; unblemished

I had to throw in the the definition of perfect. Perfect... you have got to be lying to yourself if you say you or anyone you know is perfect. Flawless? Faultless? Totally unblemished? Not a soul besides Jesus Christ can claim those silly words. So, why the heck are we striving for the impossible? And more importantly, why are we so damn surprised and feel defeated when we can't achieve what is impossible to achieve? Doesn't make sense, right?

So, "good enough"... if I had to combine the above definitions of good and enough to define "good enough", it might go like this:

Good Enough: sufficient favorable character and tendency; as useful and competent as needed for a purpose

Well, shoot! I have sufficient favorable character... at least I think I do, most of the time :)
I am useful and competent for a purpose, or multiple purposes...
I have favorable tendencies! I also have unfavorable ones, but hey, I ain't perfect!

Am I perfect? Heck no I'm not. Newsflash for all: neither are you. You aren't perfect or flawless or faultless or unblemished. And, you never ever will be. RELAX, you never ever have to be!!

Am I good enough? Heck YES I am! I have good character and I have mostly favorable tendencies! I feel I have a purpose and I do things along the lines of that purpose. I try and I smile while I'm at it! And, THAT is "good enough"! It's good enough for ME! Therefore, it should be good enough for YOU and for the society in which I am a part of.

If society tells me I am not "good enough" because I don't look a certain way or do a certain thing, I might want to ask myself a question... Who the heck decides what a certain way or certain thing is?! The dictionary doesn't define "good enough", why should society? Yo society, what the heck do you mean?! Can ya be more specific?!

Better yet, To SELF: Who am I allowing to set an undefinable definition of what is "good enough"?! WHY am I allowing it and WHEN am I going to get a common sense clue that "good enough" is all within my control, my character, my tendencies, my purpose...

Good Enough is ALL about ME. Good Enough is ALL about YOU. 

Good Enough is not a societally defined concept. Heck, its not a Webster's defined concept either!

So, if something is always missing per society or per ourselves, what the heck is it? I know!! A definition...

Do yourself a favor... create your own definition and LIVE by it. Adjust it as needed. Do what YOU want with it. After all, if you create it, you own it! You can do whatever you want with it.

Take control of what is YOURS to define. If "good enough" comes with your own personalized definition, only YOU can be the JUDGE. Now that sounds like having some power and control over your life, doesn't it? I like the sound of that. Don't you??? Well, GO CREATE IT!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Meditating via the "5-minute rule" to avoid her...

I chose to take a different approach to a discussion post I was asked to complete on Meditation and Relaxation strategies in therapy. I took a personal approach. Below is my experience with "meditation" before I even knew I was meditating. Meditating helped save me from her on multiple occasions. 5 minutes was sometimes all it took. Sometimes...

I have used meditation in my past without even realizing I was doing "meditation". I suffered from an eating disorder for many years. I used to utilize a "5 minute rule"; this is what I have named the treatment tool in more present time. When I felt the compulsive urge to binge and/or purge, I would sometimes get myself together enough to say "OK. Just give yourself 5 minutes. Just breath for 5 minutes..." Multiple times, deep breathing while trying to calm the thought saved me from my eating disordered thoughts. 
Now-a-days, I realize that my "5 minute rule" was a meditation technique. It allowed me to become more aware of the greater world around me and less aware of my compulsion driven mind. The process of meditation stated in the book is almost exactly what I would do:
1. Sit quietly and alone, usually seated on my bedroom floor and between my bed and the wall.
2. Comfortable clothes... usually is the wardrobe of a disordered eater. Yep.
3. My body would be relaxed... actually it was most likely limp. My eyes would be closed.
4. "Breathe through the nostrils and down into the abdomen. Make sure your breathing is regular, slow, and rhythmical." (p.457). Yep. All of that. Deep breathing; deep breaths that I would hear inhaling through my nose and exhaling fully out of my mouth. My exhale would usually be blown out, slowly, as if I was blowing through a straw. This would calm me and would provide me with a breath to hear to drown out my thoughts.
5. "Dwell on a single...word, phrase, or your breath." (p.457). I usually would repeat a mantra of sorts. It may have been different in wording from time to time, but it always came with the same underlying idea -- "You don't have to do it". "It's'll be okay."  "It's okay...tomorrow is a new day." Those mantras or just the sound of my breath was my source of concentration.
6. Be passive to distractions. Yep. The only distraction I needed to avoid in this meditation practice was my disordered eating thoughts. In fact, I dubbed the disordered eating thought source myself in the 3rd person. She needed to be ignored. Her thoughts were my distractions. Thats where the previous, number 5, step became so necessary in order to achieve a successful "5-minutes"
7. Practice Regularly... Yep. Unfortunately, I had to do this quite regularly at some points in my struggle. FORTUNATELY though, it worked sometimes! And sometimes avoiding a binge/purge was a HUGE victory.

See, the point and my rule, if you haven't gotten it yet, was to give myself 5 minutes before I acted in bulimic behaviors. If I could succeed, it was hopeful that I may avoid her that time. If I couldn't, well... I won't go into that here.

Mindfulness Meditation:

I have used mindfulness many times during my journey towards recovery. It is amazing what mindful eating can do for an over or binge eater. Being aware and in the here-and-now when you eat provides an entirely different experience then just eating. Noticing every bite, the textures, temperatures, feel, smells, the way it looks and is presenting, the sweetness or savory tastes... 
Rather than judging yourself for the food you are eating, just being in the moment and enjoying it provides an eating experience that is much more filling. The experience is filling in the sense that you will likely eat slower this way and allow your brain to register the food you are consuming in the speed in which it does so. This can help an overeater feel full in stomach and in brain to avoid eating too much before its too late. The experience of mindful eating is also filling in the sense that you will be enjoying it more fully with every sense.
A mindful eating exercise is something that could prove so useful in therapy. It is relatively easy. It doesn't involve any specific tool; just some food of choice and maybe a piece of paper to capture the experience is all the client would need.

Meditation - an extremely valuable and FREE tool to use in therapy. In my opinion, addicts, regardless of their drug of choice, should almost always be treated therapeutically using some level of meditation utilization. Addiction recovery is all about making choices. You can use, or you can not use. If an addict can give themselves just a 5-minute chance to avoid using and reflect on those 5 minutes of sobriety, they could quite possible avoid the urge and walk away sober, too. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

This is my body... continued.

A couple friends and acquaintances have pointed out similar things regarding the picture below which I posted in the previous blog entry, This Is My BodyThrough different sets of eyes, the same observations were found. As noted and explained in the previously mentioned blog entry, this picture was taken in February of 2011 during a boudoir photo shoot I somehow got up the courage to sign up for.

A friend of mine responded to the picture by saying this :  "I don't see the body, I see your eyes. It looks as if you have a vacant stare, as if you are conflicted, uncomfortable. I see neither happiness or unhappiness..."

Another acquaintance of mine said "You look kind of stunned, almost like you are thinking 'is this really me' in the mirror."

I suppose I do look rather empty and almost shocked and confused.

I'll tell you my thoughts as I remember them as I looked into that mirror on that boudoir-shoot day: 

Is this good enough? Maybe if I wouldn't have eaten ________ or if I would have gone to the gym ___ more times, I would look better right now...

Maybe I should have straightened my hair, my curls aren't curly enough; I hate my hair...

I see flaws. I tried so hard, but I'm still not good enough. I should have done more to look better...

But, my face looks pretty pretty...
Will my body ever be pretty enough...?
Will my body ever be good enough...?
Will I ever be happy enough...?
Will I ever be worthy enough...?
{insert trance-like stare, a big sigh and a faux-smile}

So... it seems it wasn't really a vacant stare and it surely wasn't neutral. It was negative and critical. The stare was one in which body checking was taking place, right smack-dab in the middle of a photo shoot. And, my photographer caught me. She caught my body checking, chocked full of criticism. She caught my conflicted stare.

Included in the body checking was some adoration. Adoration came with the acknowledgement that I did in fact think that I looked pretty. But, as usual, the pretty face staring back at me provided brutal mockery as I simultaneously self-mutilized with harsh words and stern judgements. As I mentally tore apart my "imperfect" body, I thought obsessively about what I could have done that would have made my bodily reflection good enough, skinny enough, pretty enough, worth enough... In the trance-like state in which I spent years binging and purging, I stood that day staring. 

Towards the end of my Eating Disordered road and in the middle of a photo shoot I could hardly believe I had the courage to agree to, I stood staring and viciously questioning myself, my body and my worth. I didn't not feel worthy of a photo shoot that day. I felt my face might have been, but my body wasn't. Therefore, I wasn't worthy enough. What was I thinking? Why would I ever have thought I was good enough for a photo shoot? I am not good enough.

This is my body... and for years, including on that photo-shoot day, it wasn't good enough. To me, my body didn't match up to the pretty face that I always thought deserved more. I always thought my face was too pretty for such an imperfect and unworthy body.

This is my body... this is my face... would you have ever known before I told you that I struggled? Would you have known by looking at this picture, in my eyes or at my face that I was drowning myself in criticisms and disappointingly concluding that my body wasn't good enough for my face?