Dealing with nutrition and pleasure is not something I was taught in my youth. If anything, I was surrounded by those who suffered for their sustenance and pleasure.
I grew up in a society and culture that respected productivity and perseverance, and focused on achieving the American Dream at the expense of health and well-being.
I can safely say that the vast majority of us have never been taught the skills and resources we need to take the best care of ourselves. In childhood, the elements that shape our identity were learned through imitation.
How many of us can claim to have healthy role models in our lives who encourage us to develop the skills of presence, listening, understanding, expressing healthy boundaries, self-care, attunement to ourselves and others, compassion, self-confidence and self-esteem. love yourself? Without healthy role models, learning to navigate the chaos of the outside world is nearly impossible.
Unhealthy role models
Our urge to conform to society’s standards has grown over time, completely ignoring our instinctive wisdom. We have been indoctrinated into a society with very specific ideals of success.
If we don’t fit the mold or norm, we are likely to be ostracized and labeled as an outcast, deviant, or disordered. If we were one of the “lucky” ones who fit the mold, we might realize years later that we don’t know who we really are because we’ve lived by someone else’s rules and standards for so long.
Like most of us, growing up, I watched the women in my family push past their breaking point, working themselves to the bone to make ends meet and make it available to others.
I found that their needs were never met or acknowledged. I watched the men in my family work tirelessly to provide for us, working hard to be invincible and not show weakness.
Starved for nourishment
As I grew older, I began to equate strength with not showing weakness. I learned to feel guilty for wanting to take care of myself. I learned to be ashamed because I had needs. I learned to feel unworthy of nourishment and pleasure until I worked hard enough and sacrificed enough to deserve it.
By the time I reached my twenties, I was trapped in endless cycles of burnout and scarcity. I was fighting with myself.
The part of me starving for food begged for respite; the other was a perfect slave driver, using criticism, pain and fear to torture me to excess. I was not only my harshest critic, but also my worst enemy.
When we reach a point in our lives where nothing is good enough, where do we go from there? Over time, I learned that the answer is not to be found outside of me.
Seeking external validation for love, success, and worthiness led me down a long and painful path that ended with the realization that I didn’t really know who I was and had no idea how to take care of myself.
For the vast majority of us, the process of learning to take care of ourselves and listen to our inner wisdom is born when we reach a point of no return.
We are faced with the hard and painful truth that we cannot continue to exist as we live. We are afraid because we realize that we are on the verge of an inevitable and irreversible change and that if we do not make the choice to change our reality, life will make the choice for us.
Often in the process of losing ourselves and everything we thought we knew, we discover who we really are.
Learning to take care of yourself
When everything is removed, we are offered the opportunity to be closer to our true selves. We have a chance to start over, reinvent ourselves, and live our lives without compromising who we are on any level.
Our journey to greater healing and wholeness is made possible by our commitment to nourishing ourselves. When we decide that denying our truth is no longer an option, our lives begin to change radically.
As we learn to respect and listen to our instincts and inner rhythms, we begin to create space to take care of ourselves the way we deserve.
Over time, we slowly learn to put ourselves first and realize that our needs, wants, and desires are important.
We are rediscovering our values and preferences.
We begin to understand the importance of having and communicating healthy boundaries.
We learn that the more in tune we are with our needs, tastes, and nutrition, the greater our ability to show the people and things that are most precious to us.