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Self Improvement

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Tuesday, August 11, 2020


Yesterday's short "bonus blog" was just a cut and paste of a comment I'd left on Sparkie friend DSHONEYC's bog about her feelings of "weight guilt" -- and her despair that "intuitive eating" wasn't going to work for her.

Intuitive eating . . . yeah. It's not an "achievement" and it's not an "efforting" and it's not a "self- improvement" It's about being more of who you really are . .. your natural weight when you listen to your body and eat the good stuff when you're hungry and stop when you're full and exercise to feel the good feelings of strength and flexibility . . . It's not about weighing and measuring and tracking and denying and punitively burning off the calories of the junk you "shouldn't" have eaten. And IE isn't a covert "dieting" technique which hasn't worked if we don't lose weight because we weren't really trusting ourselves or treating ourselves with kindness.

In my in-box today: a link to recent Steve Siebold vlog (he's the "mental toughness" guy, "If you're fat it's your fault") who tells us that the "self improvement" industry in the USA is a $14B industry and pretty much doesn't work -- other than to make the purveyors of self-improvement techniques and strategies rich.

And, probably not so coincidentally, two of the most recent Michael Neill "Caffeine for the Soul" podcasts are also riffing on this topic. Part I and Part II of "How to be More of Who You Really Are." . www.michaelneill.org/pod

One of Michael Neill's "day jobs" for years was editing other people's self help books --how to cure anxiety, how to cure insomnia, and how to cure excess weight, because he did edit a book by one of the IE "gurus" who married IE to hypnosis and sold the course and the CDs and the on-line webinars . . . "I Can Make You Thin". .

But that was all pre-Three Principles. And Neill in fact doesn't promote self improvement or the idea that we can change our core identities. That we can recreate ourselves, change our beliefs. That projecting confidence, acting "as if", becoming the person that you pretend to be . . . will "work" or be satisfying or sustainable.

All that self-help is a change of costume, a change of persona, a change of the role we're playing.

Because we never really change and we don't NEED to change. We are OK already (he says "perfect", like a diamond -- but OK is good enough for me . . . ). He calls all those roles and beliefs and personas and costumes that we try on "horse cr*p" wrapped around the diamond. And when the horse cr*p starts to smell then maybe we put on a coating of nail polish, different colours from time to time, that look pretty. But, he says, the self-help industry is mostly about changing the nail polish -- or at best, maybe changing the horse crap. Whereas our true identity, the diamond, is already as perfect and as whole and as unchanging as it will ever be, right from birth. Self-help is about "doing" and progressing and improving . . . . when there's absolutely nothing we need to "do".

So, in Part II -- he explores the idea that our true identities are more about "undoing" and uncovering who we really are . . . He uses the familiar metaphor of Michelangelo chipping away at the marble to release and to set free the figure that he said was already there within the stone.

How do we uncover our true selves ?

If we adopt Byron Katie, then we do "The Work". We ask the questions (like Dr. Judith S. Beck recommended). We interrogate our beliefs and our values, our stories and our histories, like unravelling the sweater we're already wearing: to find out who we are under that sweater. And, Neill says, this may be powerfully freeing. But it's a lot of work and can take a lot of chisel time, And none of it's necessary and the process may become an end in itself.

As an alternative -- and he changes metaphors here, from sculpture to iceberg --we can just sit with the questions, rather than working to answer them. We can increasingly permit ourselves to live in that state of inner quiet, that inner peace and calm that's always available to us. Those "nice feelings" which are like sunshine.

We can expose our iceberg selves into the sunshine of that quiet place and let the iceberg melt, at its own pace. Of course that means we don't effort diligently or control the process. We don't decide how and when the iceberg will melt. Chunks may fall away without us even noticing. Back into the surrounding sea water out of which it came.

And it seems to me: intuitive eating is "like that". A place of freedom from agitation about food, a place of pleasure in food, a place of trust -- permitting ourselves to notice when we're hungry and to eat the good stuff and to stop when we are full. A place of self care.

And yes. The iceberg of excess weight will melt away, without us even noticing. We release the bodies we really are -- not the "ideal" unsustainable bodies, the bodies which are normal weight for each of us when we treat our selves with kindness and trust.

Bodies integrated with the minds and spirits of who we really are. At peace. .

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    41 days ago
    emoticon as usual. Enjoy hearing your thoughts and reading the comments as well. Keep up the great work!
    44 days ago
  • no profile photo INCH_BY_INCH
    emoticon emoticon
    44 days ago
    More wise words, my friend!
    You sure do know how to stir the pot, judging by the comments.
    I bet I have read a hundred self-help books over the years!
    Your message reminds me of my recent blog.
    My self-love and acceptance has multiplied tenfold since I discovered that guided meditation I wrote about a few months ago by Sarah Blondin β€˜I would like to give you permission...’.
    I don’t listen to it daily anymore, like I did that first month, but I guess I have internalized it so just take a refresher course occasionally.
    I am unapologetically me and am kind and forgiving of myself.
    I am absolutely fine.
    My sleep has improved dramatically and I notice that I am able to give even more of myself to others as I see more clearly that we are all suffering in our own ways.

    45 days ago

    Comment edited on: 8/12/2020 11:42:25 AM
    Darn! You have such a great mind! You know where to go and get answers. You explain things so well. By the end of the blog I felt so relaxed. I just had a random thought float through...I think it was from the Wizard of Oz, I'm melting.. was that the bad witch? Anyway, thank you! ((HUGS)))

    45 days ago
    Those of us with schedules may not always be able to eat only when we are hungry.
    45 days ago
  • no profile photo IDAEVE
    Thanks for the blog. Very interesting great thoughts. emoticon
    45 days ago
    45 days ago
    Here's to finding our authentic selves
    45 days ago
    As a very little girl whenever I did something and got positive feedback I would be inspired to try again to see if I could do better. I can remember telling my violin teacher, when I was only 6 or 7 to "just wait till I come back next week!" My mama picked up on that quickly and used praise - honest, sensible praise - to motivate me. I never felt like I wasn't good enough - just excited about the possibility of getting better. Of course - these were all things that had to do with what I was learning, doing, performing. None of that had to do with what ... or who ... I was. I suppose I always knew I was valuable and precious so .. good enough.

    But better nail polish? Better house crap? ... or better anything I could manipulate ... well.... that was such fun.

    What makes me sad is when people are not inspired by others successes, but jealous.
    45 days ago
  • UPTOIT59
    A loose follower of Byron Katie's "The Work" as well as Judith Beck - I see some wise words here. emoticon
    45 days ago
    Very informative blog thanks for sharing πŸ‘
    45 days ago
    great blog!
    45 days ago
  • RHOOK20047
    Thank your for sharing. Great info.
    45 days ago
    emoticon emoticon
    45 days ago
    45 days ago
    Something to think about.
    45 days ago
    Thought provoking...
    45 days ago
    So much truth in these words, memories of childhood come flooding back, starvation, bingeing, hatred, hiding, then progressing to doing it for me ... then it goes, slowly and with exercise goals are met, peace is found. I am not doing what others are doing I am doing what is working for me :)

    We can expose our iceberg selves into the sunshine of that quiet place and let the iceberg melt,

    Found my place in the Sun :)

    Thanks so much for this blog :)
    45 days ago
  • BJAEGER307
    Very emoticon I glad that you have come to a place in your life that you can do IE and not fret about calories as you know that you have passed the point where food is for sustenance and your body tells you when it needs refueling and not.

    Most of us who are on the loosing the weight to get to our goal train are not in that category. We are still of the eating because of feelings, guilty pleasures, and whatever. That is where structure comes into place. As we start to lose and we keep loosing, we are gearing our bodies for IE. When we were babies, we had this intuition as if you watch a young child eat, it knows when it is full and refuses food. It is us a parents who force more food on children which is the beginnings of obesity as we feel the child has not eaten enough.

    I had a dog that for whatever reason was not a big eater. When he was fed, he ate his food but always did not finish the allotted amount. I asked the vet about this, and his response is that when the dog is hungry he will eat, when he was full he will not. So he told me not to worry and just let the food sit, which I did. This dog lived to a ripe old age of 15, which was a good age for a border collie. He was never over weight, and was very healthy.

    When I reach the stage of IE, I hope I truly recognize it, and let it guide my body accordingly.

    BTW how are your nasturtiums doing? Mine are finally blooming but not many blooms at all. Nothing like imagined it in my mind. My plants are healthy and large. I'm hoping maybe in the next couple of weeks the flowers will be abundant. Just curious.
    45 days ago

    Comment edited on: 8/11/2020 7:22:17 PM
    Interesting! emoticon
    45 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    45 days ago

    Comment edited on: 8/11/2020 5:47:23 PM
  • NANCY-
    When we are at peace there is no need to gnaw.
    45 days ago

    Comment edited on: 8/11/2020 3:34:11 PM
    ...tools, and nothing more, and many Spark people have succeeded in managing their weight by using these tools. Right here. Intuition is a glorious gift... a kitchen scale , until you see your portion distortion and develop the habit of mindful eati
    45 days ago
    Reads well and I win’t dispute this take on self awareness, or discovery. Sadly there is real work to be done, and it might seem like deprivation, but measuring portions and staying within a calorie range do not constitute deprivation. These are too
    45 days ago
  • PHOENIX1949
    45 days ago
  • GABY1948
    emoticon emoticon
    45 days ago
    "All that self-help is a change of costume, a change of persona, a change of the role we're playing."

    After many years and attempts of self-help, I finally learned that the hard way. And finally learned to trust inwardly.

    46 days ago
    Great post thank you
    46 days ago
  • LYNCHD05
    Another good start to my day with your blog making me think about what I am doing. I csn always learn something here...,
    46 days ago
    Even The Bible is a 'self-help' book...perhaps if we approached our life journey using a guidebook rather than a bible, we would be better off. I think of all the infomercials, TV ads and magazine articles pointing us toward "perfection" and it is a wonder that any of us deserve to be ourselves.

    Me, I am my perfect Me. My goal is to feel good, do good and be good enough!
    46 days ago
    I'm a firm believer in intuitive eating, and it works for me. At the same time, I track my nutrition because I do need to stay in my calorie range in order to continue losing, however slowly. And because i tend to not get enough protein, so the tracker reminds me to add in more than I might on my own.

    But yes, it doesn't need to be a restrictive and onerous process. I still eat favorite foods and ignore things I dislike, no matter how healthful they might be. Same with exercise - I do things that are fun, that keep me moving and flexible, and sometimes even challenging. But I also don't make myself crazy about it.

    SO much easier way to live and enjoy the process!!!
    46 days ago
  • MARTHA324
    As always you make me think and in a good way. Still not going to IE but have totally moved away from depriving myself and restriction...yes I do track and yes I do mostly select healthy foods and pay attention. But it doesn't interfere with my life and I am OK.

    Not quite on topic, but there was a good article in the Sunday Times - don't be afraid of that weight gain

    We/I are doing what we can right now to stay healthy. It is HOT, HOT, HOT here and there just isn't that much to do. so we walk, stretch, make tasty healthy meals, watch some Netflix, pay attention to our partners. It is what it is and that's OK.
    46 days ago
    Going to follow some of the links. Very interesting analogies. Thanks!
    46 days ago
    Letting go, accepting, assimilating, and deciding, "yeah, I am me, and I am fine!" emoticon emoticon
    46 days ago
  • VHAYES04
    46 days ago
    My take on all these self-help books and gurus is that it is self-help. It helped them.
    Get better, fitter, lighter, make money or whatever.
    One size does not fit all.
    Like PENOWOWK quoted, "I'm OK, you're OK".

    There are smatterings of thoughts in many of these authors' writings that might resonate with me but I stopped looking for a genie in a bottle. I AM a diamond in the rough and it's up to me to decide how much polishing I want.

    I've become a bit rebellious since your blog about Obesity Canad.

    I AM fine!

    46 days ago
    Much to think about. Thank you very much. emoticon
    46 days ago
    Since getting to "goal" was a success, maintaining is much harder. I've lightened up on myself - stay in a range of "acceptable" pounds but reevaluate what I'm doing if over "X". This was a good read and seemed to reinforce my "intuitive" shift from specific numbers to what I am currently doing. emoticon emoticon
    46 days ago
    Wow!! So many analogies... and what we really want is to feel ok with who we are right now, not matter what "shape" we're in. I'm ok, you're ok... yep, eons ago...
    46 days ago
  • HOLLYM48
    Another great blog with some very good food for thought observations. We are all diamonds, and I hope that people can find their own happy place where their body is healthy and they can eat to fuel and stop when they are full. Weight loss was tough, but the maintenance part is probably even tougher, we just need to find the right balance out there!
    46 days ago
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