I feel like the life I was living at 400 lbs felt like I was living life in a clear box. Unable to move, unable to do things, but able to see life passing me by. Being able to see my kids growing up without me more actively in their lives was unbearable! Having so many aspirations for my life and not being able to do them or having a positive outlook on life was heart wrenching. I was ready to give up. For the 2 years leading up to my surgery I had been contemplating over and over on whether or not to have the surgery. I was scared. I was scared of surgery in general and scared that it wouldn’t work because I know now that I felt that I was not worthy of the happiness that I could have. I am so glad that I didn’t let all that get in the way of finally making one of the best decisions of my life. I am glad that I didn’t let fear stop me from living!
Losing the weight I have has been like the bonds that had me bound were broken of in dramatic form. I felt the positive effects of the surgery within just weeks. First the body pain went away, then my knees stopped hurting, then I could walk up and down stairs, then I could get up and down off the couch easier, then I joined a boot camp and realized I could do so many things that I never imagined I would ever be able to do. And that was just the beginning!!!
One of the many things that I have learned throughout this journey is that I AM worthy of happiness. Knowing and believing are two different things though and over time I came to figure out parts of me and my life that were contributing to me not believing in happiness. After doing some reading I came across an author and speaker Brene Brown. Brown works at the University of Houston as a research professor in the Graduate College of Social Work. She studied a group of people who she called “wholehearted”. She said that these people had two characteristics. 1) they honestly believed they were worthy of deep love and belonging in spite of any difficulties their lives might contain; 2) they were willing to continually engage in vulnerability even, and most especially, when it was scary and difficult. I want to be like that. Brown gives 10 “practices” that she says we need to incorporate into our every day lives in order to become “wholehearted”.
- Being Authentic and letting go of what others think of us. This means that we need to be ourselves and stop trying to fit into the norm of those around us. It’s living life without wearing a mask. It’s not worrying about the opinions of others. I am just going to say that I have a HUGE problem with this, but I have made huge strides in this area. I used to be in a constant state of what people thought of me and if I thought it was negative I stressed over it. As I have made progress on the spiritual side of my journey I have come to know that I needed to worry more about what God thinks of me than anyone on this planet, because only God truly knows what’s in my heart and the true intentions of my heart.
- Letting go of perfectionism and practicing self-compassion. Brown describes perfection as fear-based and it is always focused outward on what others think of us. She says, “Perfectionism is a self destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.” By letting go of perfectionism you will need to have self-compassion. Love and accept you for you.
- Letting go of numbing and powerlessness by developing a resilient spirit. We numb ourselves through addictions. Whether it is through food, drugs, alcohol, or just anything that helps us to forget our pain or worries. We do this to avoid being vulnerable. My addiction was obvious. I ate to feel better. Well, I can say that it didn’t work out too well for me, other than it did numb me. But now I know it was not living.
- Practice gratitude and joy and letting go of the fear. This is done by living life to the fullest and taking chances because you are not sitting on the side lines afraid of failure and disappointment. Gratitude is something I have been putting a much larger focus on. I believe giving gratitude to those around us is important from a spiritual perspective as well as a mental perspective. Having gratitude gives us a positive outlook on life in my opinion.
- Cultivating intuition and faith by letting go of the need for certainty. This means only doing things that are “safe” so that you you always feel that certainty that is safe. Doing this is also expressing the lack of faith that we have in ourselves. Basically I believe this is akin to the saying “stepping outside the box”. Doing the things that may feel uncomfortable. I am slowly doing this. I am learning that things in life are worth a little uncertainty because the rewards are amazing. With each step I take out of my “box” I feel even better about myself.
- Practicing creativity and letting go of comparison. I think comparison goes hand in hand with the first thing we discussed about comparison and not worrying about what others think about us. If we always just want to be like others then we lose our ability to be creative in our lives. Without creativity we can not be our true selves and be truly happy.
- Letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth. To me this means being able to stop and smell the roses. Life isn’t defined by how busy you can appear. It’s about being content to stop and relax. As a mom, I knew that I didn’t want to be that mom who never stops and feels the need for my kids to be in everything. I want to create my own memories with my kids and I don’t think that enrolling them in things that keep us busy from sun up to sun down are the best option.
- Practicing stillness and calm by letting go of anxiety as a lifestyle. This means practicing calm in your life despite the craziness of what is around you all the time. I am learning to not let anxiety get to me but more I am learning to not let the anxiety control me. Anxiety in and of itself isn’t a horrible thing. What makes it bad is letting it spread and affect everything you do and feel.
- Letting go of self-doubt and “supposed to.” This means not doing things you don’t enjoy, being around people who you can’t be yourself around, and living a life only because people expect you to live that way. Don’t do this. Live life for you! Live the life that makes you happy. Do things not because you are “supposed to” but because you want to.
- Letting go of being cool and “always in control.” This means to dance to the beat of your own drum. To live life like no one is watching. This has become easier for me as I have been able to stop worrying about what others think of me. It is so freeing to be able to live life this way.
I believe that happiness comes from living the way that these 10 practices teach us to live! Happiness comes from within and can not be given to us by anyone or anything. I can honestly say that I am happier now than I have ever been and I know that I still have work to go on the ten things I just discussed above. The more