Archives for May, 2012
The most recent edition of "Good News for Eating Disorders Recovery," my indie support ezine, has just been released, and I wanted to share the inspiring message with my peeps here as well - and wish you all a Happy Memorial Day weekend as I do so! You CAN Trust For some reason (okay, many reasons) I've been contemplating trust lately. I have struggled and struggled to feel trust in my life - with situations, with other people, but most of all with me. Sometimes it has felt like I even understand love, ultimate mystery that it is, better than I understand trust. But then (just a few days ago actually) I realized something. They are the same. In order for love to be love, and not desire or some other equally unwelcome substitute, it must be felt unconditionally. Trust is the same way.
For this post I wanted to share a blog-versation between myself and my dear friend and colleague June Alexander. June is quite literally one of the most inspiring women and mentors I know. She recovered after a four-decade battle with an eating disorder, and as a grandmother has gone on to author not one, not two, not three, but I-have-lost-count number of books on eating disorders, recovery, family therapy, and the needs of recovering people. June is tireless. Her passion for helping others precedes her, meaning that by the time you are actually shaking hands with (or in my case, hugging) June herself, you are already emotionally touched right to your heart with the kind and amazing human being that she is. June is also a former MentorCONNECT mentor (she served with us as a volunteer mentor until her own schedule made it impossible logistically) and a beloved presenter for MentorCONNECT's popular monthly teleconference series. I was honored to be invited to share some thoughts on the value of mentoring with June for her blog, and wanted to also invite you to the conversation here! Mentoring - A Gem in the Recovery Toolbag
......Continued from yesterday's post, Meeting You: Part One On page 11 of the Introduction to "Quiet," Cain writes a brief overview description of extroverts and introverts: "Extroverts are the people who will add life to your dinner party and laugh generously at your jokes, They tend to be assertive, dominant, and in great need of company. Extroverts think out loud and on their feet; they prefer talking to listening, rarely find themselves at a loss for words, and occasionally blurt out things they never meant to say. They're comfortable with conflict, but not with solitude." "Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while they wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions." Cain also makes the point that both extroverts and introverts can be very friendly and many are not shy (shyness is identified as a fear of social disapproval or rejection, which is a painful learned condition that is much different than introversion but can be developed in the presence of the "Extrovert Ideal" and other shame-based life experiences). A little later on in the book, Cain offers a helpful informal quiz to readers so we can each see where we fall on the extrovert-introvert spectrum.
I have been traveling quite a bit to different campuses and organizations over the last few months (spring is always a busy time for me with National Eating Disorders Awareness Week falling in February or March annually). This spring, as with every spring, I have met a lot of inspiring people. The standouts? A young woman who raised her hand when I asked the participants if any one of them had nothing they wished to change about themselves (this has never happened during a "Beauty Undressed" event before), the young daughter of a campus event coordinator who told me all about her pet hedgehog named Bella, and the group of Tri-Sigmas who gave me a glimpse into what my Mom must have been like as a founding Tri-Sigma member in her college years. Each time I head out on a trip, I bring along with me all the new information I've soaked in about how to best approach, meet, and make friends with ourselves. Since I only typically travel during the spring and fall seasons (I follow the college calendar pretty closely most years) that leaves summer and winter break to catch up on great books, movies, and ideas that have been stacking up on my "home again" lists.
Often when I am presenting at a college or organization, I spend a few minutes working with the participants in a guided exercise to demonstrate the power of our own minds when setting and achieving goals. Our own attitude - which is approximately 50% genetic and 50% learned behavior - wields a powerful influence. Our attitude is formed by a thought meeting a feeling, or vice versa. In other words, it is in the interplay between thought and emotion that our full power (for good or for ill) is discovered and unleashed (sort of like pulling the pin out of a hand grenade, or filling a balloon full of helium). There are two typical pathways by which thought and emotion most frequently tend to meet: Example A: The mind thinks a thought. That thought produces an emotion. Example B: The body produces an emotion. The mind thinks a thought about that emotion. In the intersection where thought meets feeling, or feeling meets thought, decision and action can then occur.
I feel very fortunate that over the last year or so (okay, maybe the last decade or so) I seem to be led to one book after another that perfectly encapsulates and explains something about my personality, character, preferences or self that I had long since given up hope of ever understanding. Each time I find one of these books (or it finds me), I have the exact same reaction: "Wow! This one is IT! This is the one I have been waiting for! This is the most brilliant book EVER!" And each time, I truly mean it - and I think that I truly mean it more than I have ever meant it before. Of course, with my latest literary find, I literally DO mean it more than I ever have before. Of course. Entitled, "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking," just the title itself had me drawing a deep breath of relief - as in, "Oh thank god I'm not the only one who has noticed." Our world really does seem like it can't stop talking sometimes, doesn't it? Furthermore, sometimes I get the impression that those of us who crave less verbal volubility in our lives are doomed to be forever misunderstood as lazy, unfriendly, stupid, bad-tempered, or bad-mannered. In fact, as I turned each successive page of "Quiet," I came face to face with one quality after another within myself that I had often previously attempted to "fix," change, explain away, hide, or reverse....in other words, for most of my life, I have wanted to be somebody other than me. How painful.
I am often asked to travel to colleges and share a program called "Beauty Undressed." In this program, I speak about my experiences of eating disorders recovery. Of course, whenever I am invited to speak, I automatically interpret that to mean that my audiences really want to learn about the power of mentoring in eating disorders recovery....because of course my personal recovery story is one of mentoring, and I credit the presence of a long line of mentors with helping me to choose recovery, do the hard work of recovery, and sustain my recovery over the long term. While I believe it is very important for people to understand the specifics of what an eating disorder is, how it can develop (medically speaking), and the basic forms of treatment that are often necessary in order to facilitate healing, this is not what I speak about unless it is specifically requested. A far greater barrier, in my personal experience, has been the inability to make the leap from "your issue" to "my issue."
This is an interesting concept that I've been pondering more and more in recent months. Nearly a year ago, I hired a life coach. I had a variety of reasons for making this decision. Now, looking back over the past several months, I have to say I really appreciate me for giving myself the opportunity to work with her, as it has been quite a fruitful and enlightening connection in a variety of ways. Probably the most unexpected benefit (or side effect, depending on how you look at it) is an unfolding realization of how little I have really understood to date about who I actually am. Not who I was - I understand that fairly well. Thank goodness - I've certainly spent enough time dissecting "past me" that I really have no good excuse not to. I'm talking who I am today - right now - in each moment even as I type, type, type. Not the me I was expected to be. The me I was told to be. The me I wanted to be. Or even the me I am. But who AM I, actually?