Choosing to Not Return to the Burning Barn

During a recent gathering of great minds who help me keep perspective, one of my closest friends shared an intriguing observation.  If you remove cattle from a burning barn, they have to be restrained in a safe location or they will return to the burning building.  Why? Because they associate the barn with safety.  Even though the barn is no longer safe, their instinctual brains are driving them back to what they associate with comfort.

When I first heard this account, my mouth dropped open and I stared blankly.  The group thought that I was worried about the cows.  I wasn’t thinking about cattle.  I was thinking about how often I have returned to unhealthy behaviors because they are associated with comfort in my instinctual mind.  Somewhere along the line, ice cream, chocolate and milk gave me comfort.  Somewhere, I got the idea that life is about suffering and hard work.  My rational mind thinks that’s insane but my cow brain still desires to go back to the burning barn.

I started to think about how many people I have watched go back to their burning barns.  Addictions of various forms: food, money, sex, work, religion, exercise…  All of those things can be harmful in the extreme (in either direction… too little or too much).

I am practicing living in the moment, here and now.  Feeling my feelings as they happen, being in control of my actions but not which emotions I let myself feel.  It gives way to spontaneous tears, incredible joy and occasional anxiety.  But, you know what?  I’m still here!  My feelings aren’t fatal but continuing to go back to the burning barn is.

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Overcoming the Devil

Today, with a group of friends better than I could ever ask for, I completed my first sprint triathlon:  8 laps in the pool, 9.55 mile bike and 3.1 mile run.  I placed 9th in women overall.  I made good time, injury free.  Happy day!

While I’m basking in the joy of completing the event, the devil comes in and he says:

  • Look at those fat rolls.
  • Your hair looks awfully thin in those photos.
  • You aren’t as pretty as her.
  • Your teeth are crooked.
  • Your face looks chubby.

Get behind me Satan!

I will not listen to you!  The truth is:

  • That fat gave me energy and endurance to do this.
  • I just finished a race, who the #$%* cares?  And if they do, they are very shallow.  My hair is on my head just how it’s supposed to be.
  • She’s pretty and I am enjoying looking at her.
  • My teeth work just fine and I’m very glad they are still in my mouth!
  • My face is mine, just how it’s supposed to be.

Beyond that, I did it!  My friends did it!  My husband and soul sister were cheering me on!  I showed up and I did well!

I am loved, people really love me.  That’s a lot to celebrate right there.  That is enough.  I will soak in the joy and excitement of this moment.  My own thoughts are certainly not going to stop me…

Big time victories today!  The race was one, kicking the devil to the curb was even greater.

Please do the same!

From my heart to yours, thank you for reading.