If you’ve gotten stuck in eating disorders, a food compulsion, or a sugar addiction, and you’ve been working really hard, trying to fix yourself, I invite you to lay that burden down. You do not need to fix yourself to heal, grow or change.
Believing that we need to fix ourselves – we being our personality, our human self – reflects a misunderstanding of what creates healing, growth and transformation.
Everything in us longs to heal and grow. It is what makes Life, life. Just as an acorn longs to be the fullest expression of what it is – to become an oak tree – there is something in the human being, in the human heart and soul and psyche, that longs to be all that we are. This longing is intrinsic in you, and is your ally in the growth process.
The good news about growth and development is that it isn’t something that you have to force or “do.” In fact, you can’t force it! As my mentor in developmental science, Dr. Gordon Neufeld, teaches, growth unfolds organically and spontaneously when there’s a container of safety, of loving relationship, and when the impediments to growth – too much alarm or separation – are removed.
What a relief: you don’t have to twist yourself into knots, exhausting yourself, working really, really hard on yourself to heal.
And what mercy: if you’ve gotten stuck – like struggling with a food compulsion like overeating or binge eating – this is not proof of a character flaw, a lack of will power, or even a lack of desire to heal. It simply means that you didn’t have what you need – that there was too much separation, too much alarm, and too little safety, rest, or room to grow.
As an adult, you can support your growth and development, what enables you to outgrow things like overeating, binge eating and sugar obsession. You can prime it. But in this role, you are the midwife, not the giver of life. The growth itself – how and when it unfolds – is in the hands of Life itself. It’s something that unfolds through you.
When you cede the responsibility for this growth to Life – and to the much wiser and deeper part of you – you remove the huge burden of fixing yourself that you’ve carried. The paradox is that by removing this burden of responsibility you find the rest and room to grow.
There’s another paradox at work here. Resting in the growth process doesn’t mean doing nothing. It’s not saying you should be passive, lack caring, or be inactive. You still have a role to play in the growth process – most importantly, in your very willingness, yearning and openness to being transformed. That’s why growth always begins with a longing, a prayer, a cry for help, whether it is spoken out loud or merely whispered in the heart – Breathe new life in me.
Then as you long for growth you also support it. You support it with:
- structures (these are your daily rituals, structure, rhythms, and support)
- a willingness to receive love, care and support (simple to write, but frankly, one of the most vulnerable and therefore difficult tasks)
- your intentions (your yearnings and heart felt desires)
- and practices – this can include spiritual practices like prayer, contemplation, meditation, mindfulness, and yoga that support this transformation.
But supporting growth with tender hands is a very different animal than beating it with a stick, demanding its arrival.
Wayne Muller describes it poignantly here: “If we are quiet and listen and feel how things move, perhaps we will be wise enough to put our hands on what waits to be born, and bless it with kindness and care.”
The reward, above and beyond the growth itself, is how bearing witness to your growth grounds you into the web of life. It is a blessing of interconnectedness. Beholding the process of growth, the process of becoming, is like watching a child grow, a flower bloom, a tree give fruit. There is a rightness and beauty that brings a tear to the eye, an exhale to the heart, and a gasp of breath. It is wonderment, and a feeling of deep connection: you belong, too.
What relief to give up the reins, this belief that you have to be the maker and shaper of your growth process. Instead, try opening to the growth that is moving through you.