In my previous article on low sugar living, I outlined 5 practical steps to move away from excessive sugar consumption to a life less sugary.
But steps, plans, guidelines, rules only show you the way. To actually live that life that you’d like, you need so much more. And that’s what I want to share with you in this article, the mind-set and inner terrain you need to care for, in order to follow a healthier path out there in the real world. These mind-set changes are practices that take a long time to master. And they become all the richer and more rewarding because of that. These need to make the transition from words on a screen, to principles and values that guide you. How to do that, well, you do it slowly and kindly.
I’ve said this before on this blog, and you’ve probably read this many times in different ways. And why? Because it’s true. If you can’t accept yourself for who you are, nothing you do to change or improve on your life will ever stick. The reason being that we know that we aren’t being genuine. Outside changes, and showing a different persona to the world mean nothing if there are no roots grounded inside of you. No radical self-acceptance, no radical change. So what the heck does radical acceptance mean? I’m going to show some different facets of acceptance to you here, that all build up to a total acceptance of who you are right now, right this minute.
Acceptance of Flaws.
As youngsters we are told that things are ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. We learn to adhere moral attributes to simple, daily errors. We feel that we should be guilty over unimportant mistakes. We feel we need to hide mistakes behind excuses. We are also not heard when we are feeling anything, and are told to cheer up or get over it. Over and over again we hear the messages – slap a smile on, your true feelings and true self are wrong. Is it no wonder we fight back with defensive words when we make a fool of ourselves? The truth is, we are all making mistakes and going backwards, and off track, and then back on track and then off again – all the time. We are all emotional, tired, silly, odd, weird, have crazy thoughts. We think that’s not true because we always see everyone functioning so amazingly.
The thing is, if we all fessed up to being messed up – we learn, oh, it REALLY isn’t a big deal.
“You made a mistake here.” – Defensive/unaccepting answer: “No, it was because the computer played up and you really should get it checked.”
“You made a mistake here.” Accepting and honest answer: “Oh yes, I see that now.”
Drumroll…. The world didn’t end! Oh how amazing it is to live on the other side of that defensive wall. But it takes a long time to set up camp over there. You will go back and forth all the time. So, when it comes to perceived mistakes, just remember, that you are the ultimate judge of who you are and what you do. You also need to remember that just because you sucked at something, does not make you a ‘bad/wrong’ person. Just like 100% of the human race. So give yourself a break, it will be the first step in acceptance and it will feel weird, but once it gets comfortable, you’ll never look back.
Acceptance of Feelings.
You can accept your actions, but for it to have an extra punch, it would be amazing to be able to accept the thought that prompted the action in the first place. Because learning that skill of spotting thoughts and feeling at the very moment they become apparent in your conscious mind allows you to view them before they slip into that gateway into action, which you will then judge as “you”.
Aside from this, the truth is that thoughts and feelings bubble up all the time. If we are trying to control them and push them away and distract ourselves from them, we are fighting a losing battle. Better to learn to sit on the bench, watch them pass by, even feel them as they course through your body – all without them becoming you. They are just the weather of the day in your body.
After self-acceptance, comes kindness. Once we see who we are, and that we are indeed much more controlling and messy that what we’d like to think we are (ahem), then bashing ourselves up about that fact leaves a painful mark inside. Learning to be kind is the extra little bit on top of acceptance. Yes we can accept that we are a certain way, but can we also be kind about it too? A little bit of “Oh well, I am that, and I’m also this too.” This sounds simple, but actually it is a massive change in how we speak to ourselves. To stop the self-bashing takes some work. We have had many a year of practicing telling ourselves how ridiculous we are, how weak we are, how ugly and worthless we are. Accepting those aspects of our self is a major project – and feeling kindly towards ourselves in the meantime, waw, that takes some work let me tell you.
This isn’t blind faith, or just hoping things are going to be okay. The kind of trust that I’m talking about here is all to do with how you view yourself, and this trust is earned, not blindly hoped for. We need trust in ourselves because it gives us a stable foundation to create amazing things in our life. Trust comes after self-acceptance, because if we don’t accept ourselves then we are ultimately doubting who we are. Trust and doubt do not mix! Once we know ourselves and accept what we see, and that what we see is good and kind, then we can let in a little trust. We need to learn that whatever happens we will be okay despite it, because we will be kind to ourselves and uncritical and honest with other people – all skills learnt through radical self-acceptance and self-kindness. Trust is almost the by-product of those skills.
HOW TO THESE RELATE TO LIVING LOW SUGAR?
What does it look like to live without excess consumption (of anything, cigarettes, alcohol, sugar, food)? It looks like this:
- Being uncomfortable with unmet desires and wants.
- Having the ability to wait and push back gratification.
- Being able to feel pain, and learn that we are okay with it.
- Building a life based on values and meaning, so that excess consumption can’t comfort us as much as living our own worthy life through our own meaningful experience of it.
That’s the reality of living a life without excess consumption and perceived outer comforters. Not just slapping on a persona or grinding yourself down with diet rules until you are a quivering wreck.
So let’s go through the above steps and relate them to sugar.
Self-acceptance is the first step. Accept that you are indeed a sugar fiend, and you hardly exercise and yes, you definitely go to bed really late. Those are the facts of who you are right now.
Second of all, see them, accept them and do not beat yourself about them. No wrong or bad! No worthless, horrible, ugly. Nope, nada, zilch. What is this doing? It is showing you that you are actually okay will all parts of you, so change comes from wanting to add more good stuff to who you are already, than wanting to change something because you see it as being unacceptable.
Having self-trust means that we don’t need walls up around us all the time – what kind of walls? The walls of diets, dictates, rules, anything that comes from beyond us. Assertiveness means that you know you are the ruler and judge of you! So this is really, really what you need to live with less sugar. You need to know, that every day, you will have the sole responsibility over what you eat, and no one else can judge you or tell you what to do about it. This is about CHOICE. Can a powerless, angry, self-loathing person ever make a brilliant, healthy, self-supportive choice? Often their ‘choices’ sound more like this: “Guess I’d better stop eating so much sugar. What a load of crap that is. Going to miss it so much, but I’m so fat right now. I can see my cellulite through my leggings – I’m disgusting. But waw, when I give up sugar I’m going to be someone so amazing. I’ll be thin and gorgeous and I’ll look sooo good.”
Nothing about values. Nothing about becoming a person who can learn to deal with hard moments. Nothing coming from self-love or making a change because you love yourself so damn much, you just want to feel so fantastic because that is the best thing you could ever want for yourself and isn’t exciting, and isn’t it scary? That you are going to be without this thing at times when you would have had it in the past? And you know, that you’ll never beat yourself up if you do have it, and you learn to change what needs to change and you’ll give yourself time to adjust to this massive new world order. And you don’t feel any eyes upon you, just the steady hand of your own kind self-trusting that you can face everything and anything.
So that is why, dear friends, to live a healthier life, you need to do the work on your mind-sets first. It takes time, because you are learning to be on your own in those moments of cravings and desires. It means learning to sit with urges and yearnings. It means building a life that matters to you are your values. Working on your work, your attitudes, your self. If you think living low sugar is about just following some rules for 8 weeks and white knuckle it the whole time, that is unrealistic and unsustainable.
Self-acceptance, self-kindness, self-trust.
Have a wonderful loving day.
(Authors to check out:
Geneen Roth, Tara Brach, Paul Hauk, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Manuel J Smith.)