This past week, as I facilitated a weekly self-development group in my community, I found myself stuck on what others were thinking of me.
The group reached the point of the evening for the “formal practice” which is dedicated to five minutes of mindful eating.
During that time, each participant chooses to either a) eat mindfully of the food of which one participant brings each week or b) sit in silence while others eat mindfully.
Sometimes I eat and sometimes I don’t.
But this past week, as I was trying to honor my body (which was telling me it wasn’t at all hungry), I chose not to eat.
Which is when I noticed the monkey circus going on in my head:
“Maybe they’ll think you’re on some diet, and hiding that little piece of important information from them.”
“Maybe best if you just take one piece of both cakes and just set it in front you.”
“But still people are going to look at you and wonder – Why did she take food, if she’s not eating it?”
“So, maybe you should just pick at the food.”
“But, if you start picking, you may eat more than you want.”
“Yet you didn’t even want to eat anything in the first place!”
“So, maybe you should just close your eyes and try to make these thoughts escape.”
“Are five minutes up yet?”
“How about now?”
Yes, all of this was going on in my mind.
And, so I sat, emotionally uncomfortable until I heard the bell to cease the meditation.
I didn’t end up eating anything.
(Choosing instead to take the food I put in front of me and save it for breakfast the next day… when I’d be hungry again!)
But, I went to bed last night reviewing what had happened and realized the ridiculousness of it all!
So, I Stopped and took a breath.
Told myself (reminded myself) how I was feeling: Sensitive.
And checked to see what was Underneath it all: The desire for people to accept me (and my beliefs, my behaviors, etc.)
And sought to choose another perspective: That I don’t have to live my life seeking out others’ acceptance of me. That as long as I’m living a respectable life and doing my utmost to be the best human being I can be (and certainly not harming anyone), I don’t need (most) people to approve of my behavior, decisions in life, and surely not whether I am choosing to eat or not. (Geez!)
And finally, I gave myself Compassion for getting stuck in that place in the first place.
And went to sleep with all of this lifted off of me.