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Food &Love Hack Friday: Get Indignant

October 26, 2012
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Anger is destructive.  It’s hurtful, and it’s isolating, and it’s nasty feeling.  It breaks up relationships, poisons politics and salts the Earth.    But it also happens to be one of our most powerful motivators.   Think of all the people tying themselves to trees in the rainforest or risking their lives flying bags of rice to sub-Saharan Africa.   Absolutely they are motivated out of love.  But they often also feel passionately that an injustice deserves righting, and they are going to fight tooth and nail in order to make that happen.

So today’s hack is not about simmering in rage, and allowing it to consume you.   Please know that.   I love love and peace and forgiveness above all other things.   This hack is, in fact, hardly about anger at all, but instead only about indignance when it is elected, rather than out-of-control, and easily let go of, and nothing that boils over.  This post is about being indignant, about standing up for ourselves, about acknowledging the terrible injustices raging in our world.  It’s about the power of seeing a right and seeing a wrong, and refusing to enable the wrong anymore.  It’s about passion, about righteousness, and about taking a glorious, unapologetic stand.

The Hack: Get indignant.

One of our biggest problems with disordered eating is that we blame ourselves.  How come I wasn’t strong enough?  Why can’t I think I’m beautiful?   Why can’t I lose this weight?  85 percent of moving beyond that is forgiving ourselves, and being radically compassionate with ourselves.  We need to be as loving and humane with ourselves as we are with others.  This is easier said than done, but something that we have been working on in this community and with Food & Love Fridays for quite some time.

But the final 15 percent lies, I believe, in acknowledging that it’s not our fault.  Our negativity?  Not our fault.  Our cravings?  Not our fault.  Our  behaviors?  Not our fault.  No, we don’t want to give up our responsibility.  That would be wrong.  It is today within our power to change our lives, and no one else’s, period.   But all of these things came from somewhere else.  None of us were born disordered eaters.  None of us were born hating ourselves.  None of us were born sugar addicts, craving cakes and pies and what-not at every turn.   None of us chose to be obese, or weak, or sick.

Powerful forces at work in the world were what molded those parts of ourselves.

So it is up to us to move beyond them.  They are never going to stop.  Magazine ads with 6 foot lithe models, TV commercials with 100 calorie chocolate indulgences… they turned us into deprived, self-loathing machines.  (well, you know, at least a little bit.)  And they will be around for ages.

In order to heal, we need to acknowledge the powerful role these forces have played in building negative behaviors and thoughts into us, and then we need to change our current response to them.

The reason I suggest indignancy is because I think it is powerful.  I am a big time believer in love, and positivity, and just letting all the negativity in the world role off of our shoulders.   But an indignancy kept at a low flame that empowers us to spot an injustice and to identify it right away, and to see it always as an external phenomenon that is doing it’s best to keep us down — well, indignancy can help us lift ourselves up.

We were raised in a vicioius cultural machine: companies make money by selling things.  Food is one of them.  Beauty products are another.  And everything else, besides.  Advertisers know that when people feel bad about themselves they buy things.  So we are made in sometimes enormously subtle ways to think less of ourselves– to worry about our status and our appearance– or to labor endlessly to be as pretty or successful as what is promised us in the ads– in order to buy whatever it is that is being sold to us.

Moreover, we live in a culture in which we are constantly bombarded with foods that are explicitly designed to make us addicted to them.  And which we are told time and time again are “healthy.”   Then we are shown clips of lithe, clear-skinned women “indulging” in  big Macs all the while remaining “perfect.”  Can’t I have that, too?  Can’t I “indulge” in this thing that you have gotten me hooked on and that will make me feel better, and still end up prettier in the long run?   Why can’t I have that, too?  Why can’t I?  Why can’t I?  Why can’t I?

We are made to feel deprived.  We are made to feel less.  And it’s not our fault.  These are wickedly powerful machines, and damage has been spread far and wide.

So for this reason I advocate indignance.  No, I don’t believe simmering in a rage and blaming others is going to get us anywhere.  But when we have a negative thought about ourselves, indignancy arms us with pride and righteousness.  “No!  I’m tired of letting you into my brain!  You’re not a part of me, advertising agency, and I won’t let you control me.  You’ve done enough!   Now get outta my way!”  Being indignant gives us fire, and power, and sometimes we need that moving forward.  Sometimes we need to not just be wholly self-loving but also fierce beings standing up for ourselves in the face of monstrosities.

Sometimes we need fire.  We need conviction.  We need raw power to throw off the heavy mantle of negativity.  We need will, and strength, and deeply rooted beliefs that what we are doing is right, and what has been done to us was wrong.

The task: 

So this hack is a dicey one.  You’ve no doubt noticed that I danced around in previous paragraphs with a lot of warnings about anger.  And I’m still not sure, honestly, how I feel about this hack.  Am I actually encouraging people to have an emotion that can so easily be something unhealthy, and destructive?  Really, am I?

Hm.  Yes, I am.

Don’t use it if you think it would be harmful for you.  Be thoughtful about moving forward with a tool like this.

But then do it.

Tell American culture to go bury it’s head in quicksand.  When painful thoughts and advertisements start inching into your head, recognize them as external right away, and throw them off without giving them a second thought.  Insist on your independence.  Insist on your inherent worth.   Insist on your radiant beauty, and do not give any other voices the time of day.

Period.

Negativity has no place in your soul.   Refuse to let it.  Recognize that these external forces have created something hurtful inside of you, and stand up for yourself.  It’s not your fault that you have this in you.  It’s that external thing’s fault.  And it will not, it cannot, have power over you any more.

You have an inherent light that is powerful and luminous, so bright it is blinding and searing to the touch.  This is a pure thing, a radiant thing, a sexy thing.  Guard that thing, and do so with pride.  Nothing has any right– no right whatsoever– to dim your light.  You are a woman, and I will be damned if i stand by while negativity tries to tame you.   I invite you to do the same.  Refuse to be tamed.  You deserve far, far more than that.

External forces have played a big role in making you who you are.  Some of that has been powerfully positive, but other parts of that have been powerfully negative.   Recognize those forces, and kiss them goodbye.   Observe where they have latched onto your soul, and resolve to handle them one by one.  You will overcome them in time.  It may not be right away, but that’s what the indignancy’s for.  Allow the power of your conviction to propel you forward, and to remain firm in your progress and pride.

Marshalling indignancy is not always the appropriate way forward.  Definitely not.  But that is why I pose it as a tool.  Use it when it feels right.  Allow it to inform you, and to fuel your conviction when you are feeling weaker or in need of support.    Sometimes we need more power in order to move forward.  Sometimes we need fire.  Sometimes we need ferocity, and community, and justice, and indignance, and pride.

External forces are powerful.

But you are moreso.

Ferdinand Foch says: “The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.”

Amen.

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Managing director of Paleo for Women and author of Sexy by Nature.

6 Comments

  1. I am independent, I am worthy, I am powerful, I am luminous, I am a human soul on fire…Amen.

  2. I only realised something today. Something that is possibly the strangest thing I have ever found out, something that was within myself. You so correctly say “We need to be as loving and humane with ourselves as we are with others”, and I realised just how good I am at loving others.

    For over 1 year I was living with a man who treated me badly. And badly is a kind way to put it. He put me every possible version of hell almost on a daily basis. He ignored me, used me, abused me, didn’t care for me and didn’t show me love. He was awful to me a lot of the time and we broke up in February. A week later he tried to take his life, and then again.
    And I have forgiven him.
    We are in touch every now and then and he is getting the help he so desperately need now and is on his way to recovery. And I love him.
    I love him so so much. Regardless of what he has done to me or anyone else.
    I love him with all of my heart and I wish him every happiness. I am not even joking. This man who was a big pile of shit, I love him with everything I have and I know I always will. No matter what!
    How is it possible that I can forgive and unconditionally love someone who made me feel the worst I have ever felt and NOT love myself? How can I do this for every other person and not for me? Something is seriously messed up in my head and I need to get on this. Now!

    I love everything and everyone as much as I can.
    I think it’s time for me to fall in love with this amazing woman I know. Someone who is so so loving, kind, forgiving and incredible. Someone who I see looking back at me every morning when I brush my teeth. The one person I can always count on being there for me. The person I will spend every night and day of my life with.
    It’s time for me to truly meet myself, and to fall hopelessly in love with her.
    I deserve that love, the one I give to everyone else.

    PS. Sorry for the slightly off topic post and its lenght, but I thought of you Stefani the instant I realised what I had just realised.

  3. My wife and I run a fitness studio and the message you’ve provided is such an important one. We work with women from 20-60 and most of them have lost their independence when it comes to defining fitness and health for themselves. I need to share this with those who are ready to listen. Thank you.

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