The other night, sprawled out on my couch, I was thinking of how tough something I wanted to change was. I have a couple of bad habits that I would like to address and I find I go in great bursts and then pause. I know I can be lazy and careless and neither of those will help.
So in my whining stupor I came across an article that got my attention. “Delivering a baby is hard, grieving the loss of a parent, husband, child is hard. Changing your eating habits to be healthy — cutting out carbs, sugar, bananas is not hard.” — Whole 30diet web page.
So I made my own list and stuck it on the wall: “Losing Gord was hard; raising two sons on my own was hard; my mom and dad dying has hard.” You get the picture; I put it in perspective of the changes I wanted to make versus serious challenges I had faced. Becoming a healthier human being would have its moments and amazing rewards. It has been much easier this past couple of weeks to give up carbs, sugar, bananas, wine. My energy level is up and the healthy food on my plate is very appealing. So what other bad habits can I take on? Slow down, let’s make it through three months, allowing for substantial engrained change to occur.
Steve Fonyo running across Canada was hard. Terry Fox, Rick Hansen and the hundreds of others who have made incredible journeys to bring attention to diseases and causes, those efforts took hard work. A woman with a rare disease that is slowly killing her climbed Mount Everest and then qualified and completed the 1,000 mile dog sled run in Alaska! Amazing. That was hard, eating more veggies not so hard.
I used to say to my boys when they didn’t want to do something because they had a slight injury — not broken legs — “did you know Terry Fox ran with cancer when he was running from Newfoundland to Ontario? If Terry can do that you can probably walk to school.” So we would talk about Terry and other role models who had faced real challenges and the lads could find inspiration in their stories that helped them face and get through their own challenges. Sill do; my oldest loves to read biographies and finds the life experience of others very helpful in the pursuit of his own goals.
Sometimes we can get stuck within our not-so-healthy and familiar habits and making change seems very difficult and perhaps insurmountable.
Perhaps comparing myself to the others and their challenges is out of sync but it can work as a motivator if their story connects with you. Please do not compare body shapes and sizes and appreciate that our bodies are unique and many factors influence their shape.
Here is another example of when comparing is not helpful. I attended a grief group years ago and after listening to everyone’s story as to what brought them there I was so struck by the amount of loss and pain that my fellow group members had experienced. As if on cue the group leader said, “do not compare your grief to the others in this group, all of us are in pain, all of us grieving, and we need to allow ourselves to grieve. By comparing your pain to another you may discount yours and that does not help.” She was so right. Our grief is ours and we need to experience it in our own way to be able to get to a place of living with our loss in a way that we honour the person and ourselves and that will mean experiencing joy again. Listening to the other stories, I learned of ways to cope and move forward which were very helpful.
We do not always understand why a person struggles with change when it comes to smoking, eating, drinking or drugs. Change is difficult, challenges hard and rewarding and many factors influence these. Be curious, respectful and helpful.
Beside my short “life-was-hard list,” I have started my bucket list. There are moments when I swim in a low- level depression or can do the poor-me song, and I get through that quickly because I know in my heart and my head I am very fortunate.
The way I see it, for me gratitude and a positive attitude will make for brighter, healthier days.
Michele Blais has worked with children and families in the North Okanagan for the past 29 years. She is a longtime columnist with The Morning Star, appearing every other Sunday.