Monday, October 15, 2018


All roads lead to where you are meant to be.

Martyrdom serves neither the martyr nor the community, most especially in the form we have come to know it. Once in a while a prophet comes along who's example shines a light on the path, but by and large the average attempt at martyrdom falls remarkably flat. All that sacrifice and self-flagellation... and nothing to show for it in the end except a wounded soul.

Self-compassion is a key element of Bright Line Eating (which is going really well, by the way). We will all at some point stray from the path of dietary perfection - this weekend for example surrounded by samples of assorted vegan things, we both succumbed to "tasting" - very verboten. The key to success is not allowing that moment of less than optimal choice to dominate and overrule your desire for health and well-being. So when a Bright Line Eater falls off the wagon (so to speak) the trick is to get immediately back on - not the next day, not the next week, not on Monday, but IMMEDIATELY. The problem is that we (women a lot, and men too) will castigate, brow-beat, and generally terrorize ourselves with so much negative self-talk that we crumble and believe we are undeserving, we have failed, we cannot possibly succeed, we suck, we will be forever in a wrong-sized body, captive to our addictions and what to do but grab another Milky Way. BLE, when experienced with self-compassion at its core means that instead of all that you gently silence the negative self-talk, reach out with all you have, and give yourself a giant internal hug. I do this with visualization in which I see myself as a child who has made an honest mistake and feels genuinely bad for it. She does not get spanked. She gets hugged, encouraged, and loved to pieces, until we wipe our eyes and remember that we can choose better.

Self-compassion really is also at the heart of many religions, although it is veiled in allegory (and even, in some cases, illustrated by symbols - no, I am not a Mason, but I have studied with one). This means that the heart of the religion or system of belief is wrapped in - and occasionally, I would argue, obscured by - stories with political and moral nuggets buried within them. And often, I would also argue, in Christianity which is the predominate religion of the west and the one with which most of us are most familiar, we miss the actual meaning of the tale by refusing to apply cultural relativity to the words in the book. If I view the bible's teachings from a 2018 western perspective and without learning the original meaning and intent of the words, I will surely fail to understand the moral of the story. Context is everything. I am sure this happens in most religions, but I am very certain that it happens with the Christian bible - read this book for a bare surface scratching on this issue.

Although Christian systems offer up Jesus as the literal lamb of sacrifice, the idea of self-compassion lies buried in there as well. If I can't forgive myself, then all the forgiving God does is without real effect in my life. God can let me off the hook, but I can keep myself there!

But this is not what I wanted to say today. I wander so easily. I blame middle age - oh wait! No! I embrace myself for my meanderings!

Self-compassion requires self-awareness first, I believe, for how can I forgive myself and love myself and embrace myself if I have no idea what it is that brings me back, time and again, to the same failings? And denial can be so strong as to overwhelm the discovery of truth. Self-compassion must be a process.

This means - I forgive myself for killing hundreds of chickens. I forgive myself for keeping laying hens. I forgive myself for myriad other things I have done to animals over my lifespan. I do this regardless of whether or not I possessed the right knowledge at the time to make better choices. Regardless of whether I knew, in the moment, right from wrong. Sometimes I did. Sometimes I did not. But I forgive myself. Now I can embrace myself, cry a little or a lot, and move forward with renewed commitment and an open mind - learning more as I go, working on the spots where I stumble, being open to knowledge and change.

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