Body Image & Recovery

Acting as if

There is an often-quoted Twelve Step principle that I have not paid much attention to....until recently.

Recently, while reading a book my own mentor recommended to me (Marianne Williamson's "A Return to Love") I stumbled across it again (my mentor's a subtle gal, let me tell you!)

"Acting as if."

As Marianne explains it, I am starting to understand the importance of this principle for the first time.

For instance, when we see our fear - of socializing, food, intimacy, growing up, being responsible, whatever it is - we can acknowledge that it is there.

We can say to ourselves, "Wow - I learned something new about me today. I never knew I was so scared (of whatever it is)."

What comes next is the critical mass point. Because we then face a fork in the road. Option A - we can then proceed to wallow in the experience of the fear (I am very, very good at wallowing).

Or Option B - we can "act as if" we are not afraid - now, today - and just go and do, say, or become whatever it is we now know we've been so afraid of.

Body Image & Recovery

The Big Deal About the Smaller Scale

There is a dialogue in Byron Katie's book, "Who Would You Be Without Your Story," that just fascinates me.

She is talking with a gentleman who has arrived at her workshop bearing a particular - and particularly common - issue. Especially in recovery circles.

He doesn't feel good enough. Or enough. Or all of the above.

He is courageous though, and has volunteered to share his story with Katie in front of an audience of hundreds, hopeful that it might help.

The gentleman begins to share, explaining that he simply does not believe he is living up to his full potential. This is Katie's response -

If I'm good at something, I don't give it to the world....I give it to the one in front of me, because I've received it myself. If I have the most sweetheart thing in the world, it's not for everyone. It's for the one in front of me - it's for me first and then you. That's all. That's all that's required. No push, no pull. It's not a grand scale. It's just for this, the one in front of you. That's your job.


She has just described the essence of mentoring, in one short paragraph.

Oh, and summed up the essential existential struggle raging inside my being since, well, birth.

That, I think, was a bonus.

Body Image & Recovery

Who Would You Be Without Your Story

Right now I am reading my way through Byron Katie's "Who Would You Be Without Your Story?"

It is an interesting question.

Who WOULD I be?

This identity I have - as me, with my foibles (uncoordinated, can't cook), hang-ups (socially anxious, too serious), phobias (roaches, knives), talents (music, hopefully writing!), interests (recovery, birds), etc etc etc....

Is it really "me"?

Who is me?

Who am I?

This concept of "us as story" gives me a whole new perspective on these age-old profound questions.

I might be all of the above. None of the above. Somewhere in between. Or nowhere I've ever been before. Or everywhere.


Body Image & Recovery

Impatience, Recovery and Ed

Do you want to know what Ed (for "eating disorder") adores above all things?


Today, I thought I would share an excerpt from a recent letter I received in the hopes it might be helpful for those of you who are having trouble making peace with the pace of your own recovery progress.

The writer shares:

When I was first diagnosed with my eating disorder, I saw people on the unit that told me, "I have been struggling for 3 years .... I have been struggling for 5 years .... I have been struggling for 10 years...."  My first reaction (internally) was, "Heck, that's never going to be ME.

Yet, here I am, nearly 8 years after I first started struggling with eating issues, and I can't help but think to myself, "What on earth HAPPENED??"  I am now "one of them."  So now I’m also struggling with keeping the light at the end of the tunnel in sight.  If I can't keep it shining for myself, if I can't keep it in sight, how else will I EVER recover??  I'm struggling a lot with just wanting to give up.

I know recovery is has to be.  After all, you were entrenched in your Ed for what??  15 years?? I just have trouble acknowledging that it's possible for ME.

Byron Katie says that we will know we are ready to do things differently when we do. I love this. To me, this feels like walking hand in hand with the present moment, knowing in the depths of my being that I am in good company, and that patience is becoming my best friend.

It is so reassuring.

Body Image & Recovery

Loving What Is, Take 2

A few posts ago, a reader named Karl asked a most excellent question about an experience I shared from my attendance last month at Byron Katie's School for the Work.

Here it is, for those of you who may have missed it:

Hi Shannon, one observation about the above post: it seems to me that to say that what is “should be” is an interpretation that is added to reality. For instance, if an earthquake happens and people die, do you just rejoice in it and go, “Great! People are dying!!” Is that loving what is?? It seems to me that loving what is means taking appropriate action when life demands it. Some of BK’s [Byron Katie's] concepts just occur as very confusing for me and I’m trying to understand.

We also had several caring readers post wonderful responses, so just take this for what it may or may not be worth - my 2 cents as a School for the Work rank beginner, and coming simply from remembering Katie's own words on this very subject.

When I arrived at the School, I had no idea what to expect. I had seen Katie speak all of once, for a good solid hour, and was flying in on fumes of fear and hope. I had arrived bearing a particular struggle in tow (as had many of the attendees, I later learned), and was there because - quite frankly - nothing else I had tried to fix it had worked.

Body Image & Recovery

Would You Like My Advice?

Before I attended Byron Katie's The School for the Work last month, if someone had asked me this question, I probably would have responded with a knee-jerk "yes."

After all, it's the polite thing to say.

Even if someone had decided to hand over some unsolicited advice, I probably would have gamely tried it on for size, wriggling and scrunching in whatever way I could to reassure them that their words were both welcome and helpful.

Today, I have a slightly different perspective.

Have you ever stopped to really notice just how often you are handed advice you did not ask for, and do not want, which is not helpful (or often even relevant)?

After attending Byron Katie's School, I began to notice.

In the School, we were taught how to listen.

I mean really LISTEN.

Celebrity Mentors

What to do with the “Shoulds” and “Shouldn’ts”

I don't know about you, but I have a list of "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts" that grows longer every day. For instance -

He shouldn't have cut me off on the freeway.
She should be a better listener.
He should pay me more for the work I do.
She should exercise and eat better.

There are plenty more where those came from too.

Until I attended Byron Katie's The School for the Work last month, I thought this list was actually helpful.

I thought it was a useful exercise to re-script the daily activities and choices of others.

I quite naturally - without ever once questioning myself - assumed that if others would only seek out my input, their lives would instantly become so much more productive and enjoyable.

I also assumed that if those around me understood that what they were doing was something they shouldn't be doing, or that what they weren't saying was exactly what they should be saying, then my life would become more productive and enjoyable too.

Neither, I have discovered, is even remotely close to the truth.

Body Image & Recovery

What is Is what Should Be

This month I am sharing insights from what, to date, has been possibly the single most transformative 9 days of my life, when I attended Byron Katie's The School for the Work in March.

This week I have been pondering how Katie continually reminded us during the course that she is a "lover of what is."

When I first heard her say this, to say I was mildly confused would be an understatement.

As the course progressed, however, and we began to gain practical skills for distilling the complicated dramas at play in our minds down to their essence, I slowly began to understand.

To love what is is to understand that what is is what should be. For instance, when I wake up on a weekend morning to discover that my noisy next door neighbor is planning yet another outdoor get together around his large backyard pool, my inner dialogue tends to go something like this:

"Oh god *$#! not again. Really? REALLY? You think (this directed at the oblivious neighbor as he happily putters about in his yard) that the ENTIRE neighborhood wants to listen in vicariously as your shrieking friends arrive yet again and party the night away?"

Thinking this way is not restful, as you might imagine.

It is also operating on the premise that what is taking place - yet another noisy backyard party next door - should not be taking place.


Celebrity Mentors

Taking Care of (My) Business

Living inside your own skin can be a lonely, lonely place.

At least once you realize you are there.

The fact is that many of us spend so much of our time living our lives inside of others' skins that we seldom occupy our own.

What do I mean by this?

As Byron Katie often reminded us during the School for the Work course, there are only three kinds of business - God's (by which she states that she means "reality," or "what is"), mine, and yours.

Guess how often we sneak out of our own business - which refers to the thoughts, events, and circumstances that we can actually control and actually have responsibility for - and into other people's business, or God's business?

If you are anything like me, ALL THE TIME.

Celebrity Mentors

Welcome to the School of Wonderful, Wonderful You

Last month I received the once in a lifetime opportunity to attend a unique course called The School for the Work.

Founded by Byron Katie (known as "Katie"), the School is a 9 day adventure into the innermost workings

It was one of the scariest experiences I've ever had. And also - by far - the most appreciated.

How often do we give ourselves the chance to go where no one else (including us) has ever been allowed to go inside of ourselves?

How often do we say to ourselves, "Okay, that's it - I am not living with this fear/insecurity/prejudice/doubt/anxiety for one more second"....and then actually do something about it?

When was the last time you challenged yourself to a thinking contest - and won?