Just Like Me

People tend to gravitate toward friends and partners with whom they share common interests, backgrounds, sometimes even physical characteristics. We set up expectations for how this other person will interact and react with the world according to suppositions we make based upon our own self concept. We rationalize that the other person is so much like us, that with full authority we can set up expectations for their behavior. After all, if they are so much like us, and we know how we'd react, we can know how they'll react.

It's human nature to want to align with those in whom we see ourselves (including those wackos that get dogs that kind of look like them). Unfortunately, the only result we can count on from setting up expectations for another person based upon how much they are like ourselves is disappointment - and, hell, maybe even resentment(!). 

So now what? You're pissed at your friend or partner because in the face of some adversity they didn't face it the way you would have. Or maybe you're frustrated over a difference in communication style or frequency and think that they should just *know* that that irritates you, because well, they are a mirror image of you, right?

When finding ourselves caught in this relationship trap, approaching from a new perspective that celebrates the differences we have with the other person can be hugely instrumental in lessening the burn. Acknowledge the novelty of the other person and get *actually* curious about what makes them tick. The reward that comes from investigating and cherishing the differences from ourselves in the people we hold close grants a new lease on an old relationship.


Rocking the Boat

It's one thing to not be a jerk to other people and another thing to not be a jerk to yourself. In an attempt to not come off as a jerk to others, we decide to not "rock the boat". This, more often than not, ends in us being jerks to ourselves while concurrently minimizing the ability of the people we interact with to hear information that they may not like. No one wins, dudes.

When not rocking the boat means not asserting yourself to express your wants or needs, passive aggression finds a comfortable place to hang out in the pit of your stomach. When your top finally blows (which it will), your needs are even less likely to be heard, understood, or met because they have now been accompanied by yelling, anger, or just generally being a jackass.

Moreover, when you decide to rock the boat, disrupt the status quo, or, um *smash the state*, you are actually affirming to the people around you that you think highly enough of them that you know they won't crumble if they hear something they don't like. It can be helpful in the moments when you consider biting your tongue to keep the peace, all of the times you've thought, "damn, I wish so-and-so had just *told* me instead of letting this [insert dumb passive aggressive event] happen". 

Let's trust our own guts to know when we need to assert our needs, let's trust each other to be able to not die when we hear something we don't like. Let's all rock the boat a little bit more and just have fun if we fall in the water.

No One Should Starve

A hard day at work, stressful traffic, or a breakup can conjure up visions of ice cream and wine dancing in our heads. Then again, a promotion, vacation, or a milestone readily calls forth the need for cake and champagne.

Emotional eating is socially acceptable, sometimes even encouraged, but there are negative effects. When the food and drinks you consume don't actually feed the feelings that are starving for attention, you will remain hungry even when your belly is full.

As an advocate for Health at Every Size, this has nothing to do with the measurements of a waistline and everything to do with bringing to light how we are conditioned to feed feelings with items that simply cannot nourish them. Simply put, your body gets fed with food; your emotions get fed with attention and self-care. So why do we continue to try to feed depression with pizza or joy with cake? Sure, the answer can be found in neuroscience about dopamine, pleasure receptors, and calorie-rich foods.

But let's think about it from a psycho-social place for the moment.

We do not give ourselves credit for being the sentient beings that we are when we attempt to shelve a feeling by effectively blocking our way to communicate. Speech, crying, laughter, or shouting is impossible when you've decided to feed your feeling with food. The doughnut becomes a pacifier to stop our crying and we've diminished our ability to fully exercise our right to our feelings. 

As an extreme emotion rises to the surface this week, take time to revel in the fullness of that feeling. Do not starve your psyche as you stuff your belly. Your psyche needs nourishment, too, and you certainly should not have to starve.



4 Ways to Feed Your Feelings

  • Frustration craves camaraderie, so meet up with someone to take a walk and talk shit 
  • Celebrate a success by taking time to write thank you notes to the people who helped you 
  • Depression needs nourishment in the form of introspection, so get weird and create like a kid
  • Breakups depend on finding newness in your mind and body, so dance it out or get on the open road  



Very special thanks to Brandon Arnold for his accompanying illustration. More of Brandon's work can be seen www.brandonandbrandon.tumblr.com

Living Life from the Inside Out

For so long I tried to take my cues for how to live my life by being super observant about what the people around me expected. Man, it drove me bananas. I've learned to live my life from the inside out after living so long from the outside in. 

Stick with me here.

The trouble came from my reliance on seeking my cues from the people around me to the extent that I lost track of what I wanted or needed. I'd find myself so overwhelmed with the wants and desires that were tossed into the ether that I became frustrated, hopeless, and even panicked at times. These desires showed up in my Facebook feed, on Instagram, at brunch (even the fact that I felt the need to attend brunch). I got mired down with ideas of who I should be, while losing touch with who I am.

I was truly living my life from the outside in: trying to make my insides match the outside junk being tossed in my direction and orbiting my thoughts.

Now I try to make a practice of living my life from the inside out: trying to engage with people and environments that support the core of who I am when I dig deep inside.

Ya know, it's a damn sweet life.


Mother, May I?

You've felt stuck at work, or in your relationship. You find yourself starting the majority of your sentences with "if only ___ would ___, then I could ____". You are waiting for someone else to grant you permission to take hold of your own life and enjoy the hell out of it.

Sometimes we look to other people to make the first move, to grant us permission, even if it's not what we are after in the long run just to avoid being held accountable for making a bold move.

The frustration that stems from waiting to be granted permission, only to have it not satisfy our needs, leads to anger, resentment, and depressive feelings. Learning to be able to grant yourself permission to make moves is one of the most liberating skills a person can build. Imagine if you no longer waited for your job to not suck, for your partner to be cool, or for your pants to fit better. Instead you made the decision/granted yourself permission to find happiness by loving the work that you do, being in a satisfying relationship, and embracing the body you have today.

Evaluate what makes you feel stuck today. Take stock to check in with who you are waiting to hand you the golden ticket to make you feel less stuck. Now grant yourself permission to live your best life.