Life can sometimes be hard. There are plenty of things that we cannot control. Sometimes things happen out of our control that we simply have to endure. But over time I noticed that even things that were within my control — what I ate, how I worked out, my relationships — were mostly things I endured because I thought I had to.
I thought that the problem was just a matter of asking for what I wanted. I thought that perhaps I just needed to become more assertive and confident. No. It actually was deeper than that. It wasn’t just that I didn’t dare ask for what I wanted: I didn’t dare let myself want what I wanted.
You might just know what I mean. Perhaps what you want is to have that piece of cake but you don’t because you think “it’s wrong to even want it.” Within the Health at Every Size space there is a lot of talk about wanting vs not wanting to lose weight, as if one was “right” and the other one was “wrong”.
I think that wanting what you want is never wrong. And making yourself not want what you want, or want something else will turn life into a useless exercise of endurance.
I remember the first time I realized I could want what I wanted. In my case it wasn’t about food, it was about relationships. I had spent years thinking that I had to have the classic, romantic type of relationships that I saw in movies — I thought there was no other option, that not wanting that was “wrong”.
After a lot of soul-searching I realized that I was beating myself up for wanting what I wanted. What I wanted might not have been conventional but it was what felt right for me. That was enough for me to decide I could give myself permission to want it.
Now, am I saying that it’s always okay to ask or get anything we want? No. There are some things that might be illegal, immoral, or just impossible to get. I might want to live on the moon but I cannot do that — there just is no way. I might want to drive at 110 mph on the highway but it’s best if I don’t — it’s dangerous and it’s illegal. However, I don’t use my wants as a tool against myself. Instead, I choose to be compassionate and non-judgmental toward my wants and my desires. This simple mindset shift can make a huge difference.
When it comes to food and eating there is a lot of talk about “cravings” and often you might feel that just wanting donuts or a hamburger is “wrong”. Well, it isn’t. There is never a time when wanting what you want is wrong, especially when it comes to food.
How would you feel about giving yourself permission to want what you want? Not to ask for what you want, not to get what you want: just to want what you want. Try it! Tell yourself that today it’s okay to want whatever it is you want and stop right there. Don’t go after what you want, don’t seek it, don’t ask for it. Just want it.
That’s not so bad, is it? Most of the struggle and endurance we experience has to do with not letting ourselves want what we want and instead covering our wants and desires with shame, judgement, and comparisons. It may seem like nothing but the impact this has on you is huge!
I always say “change of mind before change of actions” for a reason. Until you give yourself unconditional permission and compassion to want what you want, you cannot move on to the next stages of asking and perhaps even getting what you want. When it comes to legalizing all foods, you must first accept that it’s okay to want all foods before you can even start thinking about eating them. If you approach eating all foods with a mindset of shame or judgement for even wanting those foods, you won’t get very far.
This doesn’t just apply to food and eating, it also applies to how you move your body, what your body looks like, and the shape of your life. Letting yourself want what you want is about letting yourself be who you are — whatever that means and whatever that looks like. Perhaps who you are is not who you wish you were or what you think should be the best version of yourself. But until you accept where you are you cannot make it to where you want to be.
Have you tried giving yourself permission to want what you want? How did that go? I’d love to hear your story! Share it in the comments below or email me at email@example.com 🙂
I was thinking yesterday about my journey from undiagnosed eating disorder, to Post Traumatic Stress…22 January 2018