It’s 10:30pm and I just started writing. I’m already tired, and my stomach is upset, which has become unusual for me. It used to be an everyday occurrence – I had infections in my digestive tract, I had abdominal pain at least 12 out of every 24 hours. But this is actually the first time in weeks that I’ve had this sort of stomach discomfort.
So, both my aunt and uncle asked me “was it something you ate?” and “why do you think it hurts?”
My answer, “I have no idea, sometimes it just does this.”
Now, the problem is, that’s not true anymore. I’m a little embarrassed to say this, but I responded to them as if I were still living in a world where I had abdominal bloating and cramping all the time. I responded as if I were still living in the past.
I only just realized that as I sat down to write. And that realization made me wonder how often I am still letting old, ingrained patters dictate my thoughts and actions. Of course, some of that is unavoidable. I can’t be perfectly present all the time, and I cannot, for better or for worse, completely discard my past. But I can be aware of the way my past affects me, and learn to manage that.
I think, to a certain extent, that is what this whole wellness quest has been about. In order for me to form the new patterns I have been creating, I needed, first, to understand the old patterns, understand the motivations and circumstances that caused me to form them. Then, I needed to consciously replace them with actions and decisions that fit with the life I am creating.
Some examples of this process? Ok, how about the way I am eating.
Old Pattern: eat whatever I want, whenever I want – never take my digestive enzymes or probiotics.
Motivations: desire to eat what I wanted, no concern for consequences, belief that because of my CF I needed to eat high calorie, high fat foods to maintain healthy weight, and worst of all, a belief that I would always have these problems no matter what I did.
Result: constant stomach discomfort as well as wildly fluctuating blood sugar and energy levels, poor absorption of nutrients (from not taking the enzymes), and persistent infectious bacteria growth in digestive tract that at times would colonize my urinary tract, bladder, and kidneys.
That’s pretty obviously the old pattern that caused me to respond like I did this evening. It used to be that I could never know what was bothering my stomach because there were so many potential problems that trying to sort out one from another would have been absurd. I had no consistency in eating, never ate at the same times, at highly variable foods and portion sizes, some days would eat just a single meal, other days I would eat 4 meals and snack the rest of the day… besides all that, I wasn’t taking the one medication that I knew would help – my enzymes. I didn’t pay attention to what I ate or anything about how I ate, so it is no wonder that I never thought I could fix my stomach problems.
That brings me to the present and the new pattern I am creating:
New Pattern: conscious, healthy eating – paying attention, and eating as much whole, unprocessed, high nutrient foods as possible while avoiding the pitfalls of animal proteins, dairy, and gluten.
Motivations: desire for maximum benefit from what I eat, working toward my goal of optimum wellness, realization that I feel better physically when I pay attention to what I put in my body, and a desire to improve my relationship with the universe and all the life that is in it. Also, the desire to stay clean and away from addictive pain medications.
Results: stomach discomfort reduced from frequent to rare, energy and blood sugar levels stabilized, weight stabilized, vitamin levels higher across the board, muscle gain (size and strength), and feeling of greater harmony with the world around me
Obviously these two patterns and their corresponding motivations and results are almost polar opposites. While it is great that the new pattern is active in my life, but when I still respond to things as if the old pattern is dominant, that blocks my progress.
That is not to say that the way I responded to my stomach discomfort tonight was bad or wrong. It wasn’t. But it was based on an outdated reality. So, in my old reality, this is what would likely have been going through my head:
“This sucks, my stomach hurts. That is just a part of my life with CF. I hate it. I wish I could do something to make this pain go away. Well, I know what I could do. I could take some pain-killers. Then my stomach would feel much better….”
Those thoughts were based on the reality I was living in. And in that reality, they made sense. I’m not saying that to justify my actions. I am saying that to illustrate how the reality we choose to live in has a huge impact on our decisions.
Now that I have chosen a new reality, the new pattern has emerged.
And that, my friends, is the nugget of insight that I has been swirling in my head as I have been writing. It took me 1000 words and 45 minutes of writing, but I have finally reached the jackpot:
If I want to make a change in my life, I don’t change the behavior. I don’t change the thoughts about the behavior. I don’t do anything. If I want to change my life, I choose to update my reality.
You can call it perception. You can call it perspective. You can call it paradigm, or worldview. You could call it your core belief system, or your values. Whatever you call it, it is the reality in which you and I live.
From that reality stems our actions. And to change those actions, we must change the reality, or else we well always slip back into old patterns, for those patterns will not truly be old if we are still looking at our lives through the same old lens.
(I just had another thought – conflicts between people arise when their realities disrupt one another, when they are out of sync. But that is for another post – tomorrow night maybe?)
Thanks for reading, and peace to you,