The importance of thinking. For yourself.
Self-determination. Marching to the beat of your own bongo. Trust in the inner voice (does anyone else’s tapeworm speak to them?). These are all rather clichéd ways of expressing the same notion; do your own thang.
Perhaps some of you are already adept at forging ahead, guided by the grace of your own intuition and living life without reference to the beliefs and opinions of others. If so, my beetroot stained fingers applaud you. For most of us, external influences can impose increasingly on our habits, rituals and decision-making processes. We become entangled in hearsay, clutching to slivers of approval; so-and-so-said’s.
I must study Law otherwise my parents will emotionally sue me. My workouts need to leave me choking on my own bile (says the omniscient training police). Can one wear blue and green with nothing in between?
Dilemmas. Or are they?
Recently I’ve had a revelation. Nay, an epiphany. No, a glimmer of a sparkle wrapped in a thought inside a rainbow. (Not sure what herbal tea I’d been sipping THAT day).
It occurred to me that if I had a question, if I was unsure, I could just ask myself. I am the one living inside this unfortunately gingerous, freckly Caucasian shell; if something isn’t working, it will register.
Many of us become caught up in seeking the wisdom of others to remedy our problems or prescribe solutions for better living. Sometimes an idea seems so great and full of promise that we latch on with pearly incisors and leg it into the distance.
Example? Me going primal. Traditional. Paleo. Labels; whatever. A pillar of this approach is the appreciation of dietary fats; we are infatuated. Often, paleo-types can be seen streaking, naked, screaming; Fat! Geddditintttyyaa! Coconuts! Nuts! Butter! Cream! Triglyceride-induced coma.
I agree that we have experienced an unfortunate era of fat-dissin’, health-wrecking propaganda, leaving a dank skid mark over the wellbeing of the last two generations, but pitting extreme against extreme rarely produces a balanced result. Yes we need fats, but the dose maketh the poison. Or the liketh. I haven’t felt quite as amazing as those first few blissful months when I ate more moderately, recently becoming more and more convinced I could devour monstrous portions of fatty meat, tropical-islands-full of young coconuts and dark chocolate by the slab (which also has sugar – bad metabolic combo). Cue; worse skin, weight gain and sense of dietary dissatisfaction.
Because I chose to worship (ahem, exaggerate!) the claims of certain health gurus, I moved away from what I intuitively knew to be right for my constitution and handed responsibility to the invisible other. Fat; good. Calories; annoyingly, heartbreakingly, still relevant (to a degree).
It also applies to exercise; you may feel great about your chosen movement pattern, until someone interjects with a superior alternative. You try it; feels kinda shit. You persevere; no dice.
Ditto for major life choices, friendships, treatments for disease. All these decisions must be garnished with the right amount of knowledge, external advice and self-mentorship.
To experiment, branch out and flee the mould is the most incredible gift you can give yourself. But to follow the rules of somebody else, blindly, detrimentally, is bonkers. We must temper curiosity with sensibility. Does it seem right? Sensical? Aligned with your beliefs? Ask the tapeworm.
With that, I’d like to hear how you all find the right path, and if you’re adept at consulting the inner wizened shaman.