Have you ever had those moments where you stop, in the middle of a task or thought, and have some sort of epiphany? My Wednesday morning started like this. I was getting ready to start work, right after taking a shower, and I realized that in the time since eating breakfast (the start of my morning routine) and the time since I was starting work (about two hours later) I was becoming hungry again. My thoughts instantly turned to frustration. I’m pretty sure I literally thought “why am I hungry? I shouldn’t be hungry again.” There was a lot of anger towards myself and shame over my body’s needs hidden in these words.
Then I paused and realized what I had just thought. It shocked me, to have this sudden awareness of such a self-deprecating idea. What was actually wrong with being hungry? Why was I so adamantly ashamed and frustrated at my body for expressing a natural need? I was quite startled by this thought, but I was also enthused by the fact that I had caught, in the moment, what a disparity it was from my reality. I have the effort to radically accept myself as I am to thank for this epiphany. The more I have taken the time to meditate and reflect, the more conscious of my thoughts I’ve become—mindfulness really does work.
This specific realization led me to a slew of other insights. First and foremost, I realized that my thoughts were wrong and, when I reflected more on the root of these thoughts, I understood that so much of this shame was coming from society and from the expectations that others have imposed on me. With this recognition, I chose to write this blog so we can all be a little more aware of the things we shame ourselves for, even the things we have no control over.
With this thought I caught myself thinking, it was a combination of fear of eating too much due to tight finances (want to support me? Check out the shop here!) and the strange belief that my body was only allowed to eat on a strict 3-4 times a day schedule. I’ve always been a healthy weight thanks to a passion about nutrition and a blessed metabolism, but even with this I had this subconscious fear that it would be wrong to eat more than 4 times a day. The finances were my primary concern, but this cultural imposition of when it was “right” to eat was a close second.
I’ve mentioned the collective ego of society in a few previous blog articles, but it really hit me on a personal level here. The belief of a three meal a day schedule, with maybe one snack or smaller meal interspersed, is something that’s a pretty common structure to follow. It isn’t inherently wrong and I know I often do follow a regular meal schedule, but when my body needed food, it wasn’t mindful to reject it’s needs to follow this invisible concept of when it was “right” to eat. It was the right time to eat when my body needed it, bottom line.
In our world, we don’t do enough listening to the needs of our minds, spirits, and bodies. If one of these is slightly less than par (what even is par, honestly?), then we often begin to feel shame towards our actions. We treat things like sickness, fatigue, and hunger as failures—our body letting us down, inconveniencing us, and costing us money or time. If we briefly consider this, it seems valid—when we get sick we do lose time, of course we should be upset about it! Well…if we truly pause and think about the validity of this concept, it seems absurd.
When we reject a reality, we’re spending energy perpetuating the desire to control something that we can’t. I talk a lot more about this idea in my blog on radical acceptance, but it makes even more sense in the context of when we shame ourselves for our body’s needs. Hunger is a reality that cannot be avoided, so when our body’s express this need to us, it makes no sense to shame them for it. In my mind, I did because I was responding to the subconscious belief that I am experiencing a famine of the modern day variety, but even if my budget for groceries is tight and it came to not having any food, there would still be no benefit to shaming my body for being hungry. I would simply need to accept the hunger at that point and work to find a way to secure some food.
This idea of shaming ourselves for being sick is probably the most prevalent in our society. With progress as the first and foremost focus in most of the Western and Westernized world, we sacrifice our well-being for such. As a self-care activist, I’ve tried to tackle this concept before—with my own perceptions about myself and my chronic illness and in other people who work too hard, burning out as young as 20 years old while still in college. This is the concept society is faulted with, not with strict demands like when to eat and how to feel about being sick.
The health of our bodies should come first and we must to begin to accept our body’s needs without judgement. We can, one loving step at a time, reclaim that our health is worth something. We won’t lose all the great things in our life if we stop to take care of ourselves—in fact, we will gain an infinity. Joy can and will come when we put ourselves first, so it’s about time we stop shaming ourselves for the needs we have and can’t control.
Are you looking to transform your life and free yourself from burdensome emotions like shame? I offer one on one mindfulness coaching, a type of life coaching focused on creating holistic and sustainable changes in your life through mindfulness techniques and guidance. Check out all the information here!