Wednesday 19 August 2009

Beyond fear

I was an overweight child, an overweight teenager, an overweight twenty-something and then it dropped off. Over the past decade I've lost about 20-25% of my bodyweight, mostly through changed eating habits during crisis points in my life.

But the legacy of my inner 'fat girl' has never really diminished. She is alive and well in my head, chattering away, feeding my fear of carbs and chocolate.

I've lived a life of denial - either denying what I looked like or what I was avoiding eating. And I've come to the stage where I choose something different for myself. Not the newest diet - I wouldn't stick to it anyway! - but beginning to play with my favourite concept: acceptance.

I spend so much of my life denying reality. Denying what 'is' right here, right now. I think, 'it shouldn't be like this'. When it comes to my body, I'm living through fear, not through acceptance.

This is about more than my body. This is about the dynamic of fear that can creates so much invisible pain.

It's just one step from body-fear to status-fear, age-fear and all the other fears that flow through our society. These are manageable fears - we can hide behind them instead of living with bigger fears - am I 'worthy'? Am I a 'good' person? Do people like me? What happens when I lose all control, when I die? These are the greater fears that hide behind our mini, everyday fear experiences

Something different is needed. Rebelling against anything simply perpetuates that dynamic. It's about moving to a place beyond fear and control, fear and force, those misguided attempts to control something in order to feel safe. The radical action is to accept.

In this case, that doesn’t mean diving straight into the Belgian chocolates, but becoming resolutely gentle with the hundreds of conflicting messages that race through my mind with regard to food and body.

If we could accept one thing that seems scary, what ever that may be... If we could become gentle with a fear... if we could accept that the fear exists without trying to 'cure' it… what would happen? Would we feel safer in the world? Would our tolerance, or even acceptance, of other fears increase?

I suspect it would.

Simple words. Living them may take a tad longer…

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