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?

Body Image & Recovery

10 Things My Mentor Taught Me: There is Always Another Perspective

I have so enjoyed contemplating and writing this series about 10 things my mentor taught me that I might just continue it again in the future!

There are so many more things that Lynn has taught me - all worth discussing, all worthy of the highest contemplation. But for now, I will end this particular 10-part series with one of the most valuable lessons Lynn has taught me, which is that there is always another perspective.

I will never forget the time, back in 1989, when I went to a therapist because I had sustained an injury that prevented me from playing music. The therapist told me that I would never play music professionally again - my injury was just too great.

I ran out of the office and drove straight to the home of my mentor at that time, Annie. I walked in the door, sobbing, and burst out with the news, "That therapist said I would never play music professionally ever again!"

Annie looked at me very calmly, and spoke these words, "Well, you don't have to believe her."

This was the first time I had ever considered that perspective.

Body Image & Recovery

10 Things My Mentor Taught Me: I Deserve My Own Love and Respect

"The Subject Tonight is Love," as the poet Hafiz would say, is actually more accurately translated as "the subject of this life is love."

A psychologist working with returning prisoners of war remarked upon her fascination with the subject matter her clients wished to discuss. They were not interested in discussing the horrors of the camps, the separation from their friends and family, the atrocities of war.

Rather, they focused their time in therapy discussing the intricacies of love - and mostly in the format of their romantic love relationships with others, or lack thereof.

The subject tonight is always love, whether we know it or not.  Whether it is familial love, romantic love, friendship love, or self-love, love is why we wake up in the morning and what helps us fall asleep at night.

Love is where our survival instinct comes from, and why we listen to it and heed its warnings and directions.

Love is what gets us through a crisis, and brings us back to life when the crisis ends.

Love is the only reason we can endure copious amounts of hate, anger, fear, and greed, yet still emerge with our hearts intact.

If we have the love of just one other person, we reason to ourselves, we will be okay.

But have we ever considered that that one other person could - and should - be ourselves?

My mentor, Lynn, has never wavered from reminding me over the years that I deserve my own love and respect.

Body Image & Recovery

10 Things My Mentor Taught Me: My Own Love is the Most Important Love

"Whether other people love you is not as important as whether you love you."

My mentor, Lynn, and I have been working on this one for years.

It is taking so long because it is a concept I am curiously resistant to.

Somehow, despite my best efforts and intentions otherwise, I consistently fail to see the equivalent value my own love has in comparison with the love I want from others, or the love I want to offer others.

Lynn reassures me that I am not the only one who struggles with this.

She finds creative ways to reinforce what we are working on, sometimes suggesting books or movies that bring the concept to life in ways that are now or could someday be parallel to my own.

Sometimes she tells me this is what she is doing. And sometimes she waits for me to figure it out on my own (I'll give you one guess as to which method takes longer).

And don't get me wrong here -  I like the concept of loving myself. I like it a lot. I just have trouble doing it.

Body Image & Recovery

10 Things My Mentor Taught Me: I Have More Going for Me Than I Realize

When I look at me, I see one thing.

When my mentor, Lynn, looks at me, she sees something else.

Or someone else, to be more accurate.

In other words, in my mentor's eyes, I am always kinder, smarter, more sensible, and have more going for me than I realize.

Our views differ because I am usually mired in the events of the moment. Today I feel sad. Tomorrow, guilty. The next day, joyful. And the day after that, angry.

So each day I feel like a different person, and as a result I often fail to see any continuity between the days, the emotions, and the person experiencing the life she is living in.

That is what a mentor is for, Lynn repeatedly reminds me. She sees the continuity.

Body Image & Recovery

10 Things My Mentor Taught Me: Joy is Always Available


Now there's a sore subject.

15 years out of the 40 current total years of my life have been spent battling anorexia and bulimia. A good 15 more have been spent working my way into and out of that precarious state.

That leaves approximately 10 years of my life in which I may have even had the perception that joy existed for me. And those were the first 10....not my wisest or most emotionally mature years.

Although, according to my mentor Lynn, that may be open to debate.