Today I’m driving to Houston with my eldest son to help him get his next pair of ice skates for his joy and passion – figure skating.
Competitive figure skating is a whole new world to me, and learning about this world – like the fact that you may have to drive 200 miles to buy skates! – has been a learning curve.
Every week it feels like I’m learning something new.
It’s so interesting, being a human being – all the ways we think we ‘should know what to do,’ when frankly, we often don’t know what to do if we’ve never done something before.
I know about sugar, why can’t I do better?
This reminds me of one of the most frequent questions I get about sugar.
I hear from so many people who say, “I’m a health coach (or a therapist, or nutritionist, or wellness practitioner…) and I know better. I know all about sugar, and yet I’m not able to put what I know into practice.”
This can lead to feelings of guilt, frustration, or shame – a sense of, “Why can’t I just follow through on what I know?”
Ah, if life were only about knowing what to do! But in my experience, life is more complex – and wondrous. And, thank God, full of grace.
Softening the expectation of ‘knowing better’
Like you, I’ve longed to make changes in my life. After a really challenging 2018, I wanted to bring more playfulness back into my family – to play Scrabble with my daughter, pull out my sewing machine again, bake with my sons, take more leisurely walks with my husband and the dogs.
But there’ve been a lot of things that have asked for my attention, and a lot of emotions that needed to be cared for in the wake of my husband’s health scare last June.
I needed time to care for my heart, and to rest. And I needed to create space for my family’s heart, and for their rest.
Which means that it’s taken me a lot longer to recover a sense of playfulness than I imagined. It’s happening both more slowly and more messily than I wanted.
But that’s okay.
What’s helped are two things:
2. and letting go of this idea in my mind of how recovery ‘should’ go.
What a thought: just because I knew what to do – how to help my family heal and recover – didn’t mean that this knowing translated into an easy or ‘quick fix.’ Far from it!
Why “I know better” with sugar isn’t the only answer
I’m guessing this is also true for you. Just because you know what to do to eat less sugar doesn’t mean that this necessarilty translates into an easy or quick fix.
Like my experience with my family, there are probably very good reasons why you haven’t been able to translate your knowledge or desire into immediate action.
You may have run into obstacles.
You may have needed more support.
You may have needed emotional support.
Your feelings are not an obstacle
Like mine, your heart may need tending. Our relationship with sugar tends to bring up strong emotions, for our relationship with sugar touches on all kinds of things – how we relate to our needs, our relationships with loved ones and friends, and our relationship with our sensitivity.
And then when we go to change our sugar habits, strong feelings of resistance, or fear, or helplessness can arise.
Whew! It can feel like a lot!
These feelings aren’t an obstacle, something to ‘get over.’ They’re precious, and important – one way your heart is saying, “Please stop, please pause and care for this.”
And – this tending takes presence and time.
Knowledge is a start, not the answer
So knowledge can be a start. Desire can be a start. Wanting to do differently or knowing that there’s another way can help us open to the change process. It can help you begin.
But what helps us continue, and what helps us move forward is adjusting our expectations along the way.
This often means opening to what we don’t know – that we won’t always know how that growth will occur or what it will look like. And this often means creating space for our hearts and for their journey.
This, I think, is a form of compassion – and such a helpful one to bring along your journey with sugar.