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Willingness, Grace & the Pressure to Be Positive

I feel pressure to be positive. I want to be a beam of sunlight. I want to help people see what’s possible. I want people to feel better, to experience relief and to be uplifted.

So the other day when I cut off about five people in traffic and mean-mugged a woman and her son at the grocery store (they were were exiting through the entrance--the nerve!), I started to ask myself, “WTF? I’m acting like an asshole. I’m not an asshole (usually) so where is this coming from? Why am I acting like I did the first year I was sober?”

I’m meditating. I’m eating right.

Nail. On. Head.

On Saturday I found out my big black lab, Fonzie, has an ACL tear. It would cost a small fortune for him to have surgery and he’s nine. It already cost a small fortune just to find this out and get him properly medicated so we can manage his pain. On top of that, my big, insatiable, adorkable black lab has to lose 15 pounds, which is A LOT for a dog.

(BTW, when I say insatiable, I mean INSATIABLE. For those who don’t know, labs are missing the POMC gene that signals to them that they are full. So they are ALWAYS hungry. He supplements his diet with moss, asphalt, gravel and dirt — literally anything to fill his belly.)

This isn’t new news. I’ve been waiting til it got cooler to take him on longer walks to get him more exercise. But a bad ACL means no long walks. I HAVE to cut his calories. I knew I would get to this point where I really and truly have to do the right thing.

Ugh. I have relied on food to motivate him, bribe him, train him and reward him. And it HAS to end. Which means there will be a lot of whining and pestering. For him to be in pain and hungry… it’s awful. Empathy for my dog gnaws at me.

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

I hate pain. Physical pain, emotional pain, mental pain, you name it. My mission in life is to reduce suffering in the world, and here I am creating it. For me, him, plus others. It just makes my skin crawl to know I’ve created the mess and it’s up to me to wade s-l-o-w-l-y through it. Fifteen pounds doesn’t come off a dog in a couple weeks or even a couple months.

So I had a little come-to-Jesus chat with myself that I gotta do the hard thing, say “no,”set some real boundaries and tolerate his discomfort. I also decided that, in solidarity with my pooch, I needed to face my own indulgence around food.

No wonder I’ve been acting like Miss Cranky-Pants. I don’t want to do the work or feel the pain. It’s a miracle to be free from obsessive-compulsive thinking, but getting there? It is ugly and messy. And as far as I can tell, it’s human nature to wait until we’re in enough pain to finally do the hard thing.

Nail. On. Head. Again.

I am 100% avoiding whatever I’ll have to feel when I want a treat and don't take it.

I value personal growth and know that you can’t grow in your comfort zone or be comfortable in your growth zone. And that’s what I’ve been doing: avoiding my own growth. Trying to skate by with a minimum of effort and discomfort.

What an irritating thing to realize. ESPECIALLY since I’m a LIFE COACH and I’m supposed to have all this figured out. Ha.

Here’s the silver lining. I’ve known that this—this avoidance of discomfort, this guilty indulgence—holds me back.

Knowing it holds me back wasn’t enough to get me to change it.

Knowing freedom lies on the other side of it wasn’t enough to motivate me.

Knowing what to do didn’t matter one bit. For me it’s not about counting calories or points or even summoning my willpower. It’s about willingness and grace.

I prayed for willingness. Actually, I prayed for the willingness to be willing to confront my fears, reluctance and discomfort that will inevitably emerge when I take away MY ONLY SOURCE OF COMFORT (you can see I’m still throwing a bit of tantrum about the whole thing).

A little brief caveat here about the word “prayer.” I don’t like it. I associate it with religion, which is most definitely NOT what I mean by prayer. When I pray, I simply admit that I don’t have it all figured out and I need some help from…some source outside of me. I don’t know what it is, what it looks like or where it is. Doesn’t matter. What matters is that I ASK.

And with that willingness also came the grace to allow it all to look a little messy and ugly. That, yes, some days I may act like an asshole, but it doesn’t make me an asshole.

So cheers to the ugly, the messy and to doing the work. Anything that you do today that’s different from what you did yesterday is progress, however small.


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