Feed Your Soul
Think about this: Do you feel it is right to put yourself at the center of
your own life, or is your secret fear that if you consider your own needs,
you'll alienate the people you love and end up homeless, rifling through old
chicken bones in a dark alley? Are you afraid that a "me first"
attitude will get you drummed out of the "good people" club?
Most of us secretly believe that good people, especially women, take care of
others first. They wait until everyone else has a plateful and then take what's
left. Unfortunately, most of us make decisions based on our ideas of who we
think we should be, not on who we actually are. The problem is, when we make
choices based on an ideal image of ourselves — what a good friend would do,
what a good mother would do, what a good wife would do — we end up having to
take care of ourselves in another way.
Enter food. When you don't consider your real needs, you will likely fill
the leftover emotional hunger with food. (Or another abused substance. Or
shopping. But most of us opt for food.) You eat in secret. You eat treats
whenever you can, because food is the one way, the only way, you nourish
yourself. You eat on the run because you believe that you shouldn't take time
for lunch; there's too much work to do. You eat the éclair, the doughnut, the
cake, all the while knowing this isn't really taking care of yourself. But to
really take care of yourself, you have to think of yourself first.
"Is that possible?" you ask. "What about my children? I'd die
for them." Have you ever considered why, on an airplane, the flight
attendant tells you to put on your own oxygen mask first, before you help your
children? It's because your kids' well-being depends on it. If you aren't
grounded, present, calm, and able to breathe, there is no one to take care of
What would your life look like if you acknowledged the truth that working
nonstop for 10 hours, taking care of other people, leaves you so spent and
weary that there really isn't much left of you for your kids, let alone
yourself? What would your life look like if you realized that you need to set
aside time every day to fill yourself up — even if it's only by taking a few
15-minute breaks during which you stare at nothing or go outside or lie down?
What would the pace of your life be if you went on "soul time" instead
of clock time, even just a little?
It's possible. A few days ago, I spoke with a first-time mother. Her baby
son had colic, and she was completely exhausted. She was so afraid she wouldn't
be there when he needed her that she couldn't sleep even when he was napping or
with her husband. And she was turning to food to calm herself down. I asked her
what it would be like to do something very simple for herself: to sit down and
breathe. That's all. No big deal. Nothing to achieve. Just let the body do what
it was already doing and give herself a break. She said she could try that. She