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The importance of thinking. For yourself.

May 12, 2012

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.

(image source)

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.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Melissa permalink
    May 12, 2012 10:36 am

    Always so amazed at your wisdom and honesty!!! Fantastic post!!! xoxo

  2. Catie permalink*
    May 12, 2012 10:52 am

    Thanks Melissa! I secretly sap the wisdom and knowledge from my amazing classmates..!

  3. May 12, 2012 11:11 am

    I don’t know how you do it, but your posts are always so funny and interesting! I love it!

    Well, I feel like I’m always on ‘the path’. Always trying to find new ways to eat/cook/enjoy certain foods and exploring other foods, and whether I should include or remove certain foods. However I am starting to feel like i’m finding a good ‘middle ground’ with how I should eat. As incredibly clichéd as it sounds, I find that diet is as much of a ‘journey’ as anything else in life. But I agree that there is only so much advice/info we can take from others and at the end of the day we need to just listen to our bodies/ourselves and see what works for us, as individuals!

    (Another) Great post Catie!

    • Catie permalink*
      May 12, 2012 11:46 am

      And your comments are always so thoughtful Michelle!
      I love your approach, and only tonight was pondering the excellent advice and guidance you have given me all along my merry way as my journey has had it’s ups and downs! You certainly do balanced very well Miss. X

  4. Mike permalink
    May 12, 2012 6:36 pm

    I have noticed that most people treat dogmas as wine – the older the better. They say that once upon a time people were ‘better, wiser, smarter’, and this is why we should follow the dogmas without thinking.
    Sorry but I never follow this pattern. Yes, I can’t know everything but still have a brain of my own. So, research, folks.

    There is a rule that has never let me down. Say, 2+2=4. It’s universal and true. It works in every part of the world, at any altitude and depth. So, if, for examle, a new diet/whatever can’t be followed in every part of the world I reject it. This is how I started following the paleo diet with some corrections to my region – no hardcore. So, vegetarianism to me is like recommending someone to wear flip-flops all year round in Siberia;)

    Sorry, I did not mean to insult anybody’s beliefs.

    • Catie permalink*
      May 12, 2012 10:01 pm

      I love your analogies Mike! I agree that without inquisition, curiosity, research and challenge, old, ingrained ideas stick around long past their use-by date. How would we ever evolve if we were to constantly follow someone else’s dogma?
      And thanks for bringing awareness to the flip-flop issue – second to factory farming as the biggest threat to public health! Haha.

  5. June 7, 2012 2:11 am

    “Fat; good. Calories; annoyingly, heartbreakingly, still relevant (to a degree).” Aw man, I’ve recently come to this realisation as well. Still amazed me when we parallel… I’m experiencing the same softening of my extreme appreciation for gallons of fat in the diet. Fat, great! But not necessarily by the truckload. It’s great to stand up against that old low-fat fallacy, but no need to be extreme… learnt this the hard way!
    Oh and blue + green should never be seen. No need to question the tape worm about that one.

    • Catie permalink*
      June 7, 2012 7:16 am

      Yep, embracing some fat-qulibrium. We have that amazing ability to overboard with anything, with such suggestible minds and insatiable appetites for tasty treats. Dang!
      And thanks for the confirmation re. blue/green conundrum. Mind soothed!

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