I had a difficult morning with Isabel one morning, and did some thinking about it after the fact. I had the following insights and wanted to share them:
We are trained as a culture to believe it’s all about “getting” it (whatever the “it” is.) We’re told: Focus on the goal! Go for it! What no one talks about is that it’s actually harder to sustain the achievement than it is to achieve it initially.
We say, “I am going to lose 20 lbs.” We don’t say, “I am going to change my eating and exercising habits so that I learn how to control my eating and be more active so that I maintain my ideal weight throughout my life.” We say, “I want to get married.” We don’t say, “I am going to practice being loving and being in relationship and letting go of control so that I can sustain a long-lasting, loving marital relationship.”
So we set our sites on this goal, whatever it is. And we’re doing pretty well – losing the weight, meeting someone we really like, getting adequate rest… Then one day, we say, “Ok! I got it! I got what I want! I am my ideal weight! I got the guy! I feel great!” And we think we’ve got it handled, so we are less vigilant. We think, “I’m doing great, so… it’s OK to eat this one piece of chocolate cake; it was just one argument; it’s OK to stay up late this one time” and suddenly we’re stepping on the scale and not liking what we see, or getting into more arguments with the person, or feeling tired again, and saying, “Oh, here we go again!” It’s an old familiar feeling, and somehow, that feels so comfortable. Except we know it’s not what we want, but now we feel helpless and a failure.
It’s all a practice. No one is perfect all of the time. We are led to believe that we can be perfect because we read about people who woke up one day and “decided” to make it all different and from then on out it was! Well, yeah, maybe that can happen. But just like all the fairy tales that claim that they live happily ever after, they’re not telling us the whole story. It’s the equivalent of winning the lottery. Just winning the lottery doesn’t help people. It’s what you do with the winnings that matters.