Courage is the essential quality fueling every deliberate change.
There is no shortage of courageous acts we can take with food.
If we are accustomed to saving some food for later, we can experiment with giving food away (and noticing if we are afraid of scarcity).
If we are accustomed to eating quickly, we can experiment with slowing down (and noticing if we are surprised by the taste of what we’re eating).
If we are accustomed to eating on the run, we can experiment with doing nothing else when we’re eating (and noticing if we are uncomfortable with that level of focus).
If we are accustomed to eating in order to change our mood, we can experiment with tolerating our mood rather than eating it away (and noticing whether our feelings are as painful as we imagined).
If we are accustomed to prioritizing nutrition, we can experiment with allowing our sensuality decide what we eat next (and noticing if we fear our own desire).
My client Jason (not his real name) has been working well in therapy to become curious and gain clarity about his body, what he thinks about his body, and the actions he has chosen in his life. Jason, like many of us, is strongly motivated by visible changes in his schedule, finances, and relationships.
He’s impatient with his own rate of change—he’s fond of beating himself up with Nike’s tagline, “Just do it.” He’s targeted eating while doing nothing else as his courageous act with food, and he is frustrated with himself for not having done it already.
Jason is right, of course: if he implements and executes this (or any other) courageous act, it would lead to significant changes in his schedule, finances, relationships, and mood.
It’s also true that this courageous act is the result of significant changes he’s already made in his life. Jason has had to develop awareness, accept responsibility, and strengthen his foresight—and these are the very muscles that make courage possible.
I invite you to re-read Nelson’s poem, think about courage, and consider the following:
What’s my greatest food-related fear? What’s on the other side this fear?
What scares me more: the possibility this courageous act would “fail” or “succeed?”
When my courage is tested, how do I respond?