It happens that I am overcome by an old, familiar feeling. It could rise up at a family holiday gathering. That old family friend who says the most annoying things. Or Aunt Bessie, who means well, but boy is she in my business. Let’s not talk politics or religion or work or anything. Sometimes the feeling is shame or guilt or sadness. And there on the table is an abundance of food and all the sugary treats that are poison to me.
In the past, I brace my body, tell myself I won’t let it get to me. When that old, familiar feeling takes over, my brain goes to work seeking to identify if there is danger, if it is familiar and if the story make sense. Sometimes the thought driving the feeling will not be conscious. It is tiny and elusive. Like a hair in your eye, can’t see it, yet it takes all your attention. So I used to eat. When the family left -- just one more piece of that special treat. Just one more. You get the picture.
How do I break that cycle?
This is what I learned. When you want to change, to either take something out of your life or add something to your life it is best to have a clear intention. It is also good to have a compelling reason to make the change and to identify an important value that connects to it.
So I created a protocol for my life.
Create an intention: I continue to heal from the shame of my past. I continue to be healthy and not buffer my uncomfortable emotions with food. I will have a joyful holiday. I find my sense of peace inside and by connecting with those I love. I ask for help.
Identify my values: To live a rich, full life. Have respect for the life I was given, including my body, and die with no regrets. I want to be open and receptive and enjoy my life. Family is important. I want to be a supportive and loving mother and friend. I believe that people are essentially good and doing the best they can. I want to be kind and loving to myself and others. I treasure creativity and fun.
My compelling reason: I want access to all of my powers and to enjoy life with my family and friends.
My Protocol (tools for living) for healing:
No feeling is old.
All feelings arise in the current moment.
Feelings come from thoughts and images – words and pictures floating in my head right now.
Identify the negative thought: I am a victim. You make me feel bad. You just don’t get it.
Identify the feelings: Fear, sadness
Prefrontal cortex take over. Let’s make a plan. Oh, it is you, old brain, protecting me from further pain. I’m good now. I can take it from here. I am calling in my allies.
My Tool Kit:
A forgiving heart.
More beautiful questions – what if my heart was open and I could handle anything?
Good friend, hello.
Connection to gus (Great Universal Spirit).
A loving inner parent – I love to love you, baby!
My fierce super-power – Don’t mess with my girl or I will take you down!
A good detective – what is going on here?
Take a seat.
Grab a pen. Write in my journal.
30 minutes sitting meditation.
5 minutes shaking meditation.
Read my list thoughts that support me.
Call a friend and let her know I could use support.
So, my friend, you must call out the troops to survive the holidays! Through trial and error, I created the above protocol to get me out of hot water and into the spirit of the season. It seems complicated, but if you look closely it is a lot of tiny, simple steps.
Together we can develop your protocol, your means of action. That’s what a good coach does. Gets you from here to there. Boom! Done!