The past weeks I’ve been going over T R E A T Y O U R S E L F W E L L and rooting down into its meaning. Today’s Monday Motivation has arrived at YOURSELF: (the beast that is) identity.
This is a quick snapshot, it’s a bit messy, but I like that, it’s a real moment in my life. These flowers make me feel special when I see them, they’re beautiful, they smell sweet and fresh, they’re joyful, they’re a luxury. I carried them for miles. They were reduced down to pennies but for me that’s even better as at full price I’d just feel guilty, knowing it was extravagance. Everyone should buy themselves a bunch of flowers (you don’t have to wait for someone else to!), and feel lifted up by them. They make me feel grown-up, and like I’m achieving making a good home somehow. My relationship to the flowers that are brightening up my kitchen is all bound up in my identity, in my self and the things I have absorbed to make me me, and what I perceive as being me, in my love of colour and nature, in my aspiration for a good life, and for a domestic ideal that comes from many sources.
get ready to go (a bit) deep!
Identity has always been a preoccupation of mine, my fractal self, the layers of identity we all have, what is it, where does it come from? Social Anthropology was the natural choice of degree. I have a strong self-awareness of the surreality and subjectivity of this perception-based life. I think striving to understand the self is a vital tool in understanding how we tick, and so getting the most out of life. There isn’t enough space here to explore it in its entirety, that would take a life-time (and believe me I would give my life to it!) But we can dip in and have a look around, through my eyes and my experience.
I don’t see my mind (or my body) as me, it’s not, it is a part of me, it is a tool, something that can work against me or for me, something that can become unwell and be healed also, it is like a machine. If we don’t have this objectivity, how else do we become who we want to be, how else do we understand why we make mistakes, come to terms with our imperfections, do we build a good relationship with ourselves and others amidst the chaos that is this life, with so many influences, pressures, emotions and demands? And you see there, in the phrase ‘with ourselves’ that this objectivity is actually innate in our language and understanding. And yet subjectivity is our reality, we perceive everything through our own particular lens of identity, emotion and understanding, from our own place in society and to its power structures. Consciousness is the pit we are in. It is easy to feel static, but we are not, we are in flux. We are trapped but we are also free, we just cannot always feel it, cannot perceive it. We must strive to be objective, to understand how the mind works, how our identities form and also change, and how this impacts on our lives. And yet this and other such social thought is not taught in schools, not where I’m from anyway, and it is the most important thing to learn as it gives the tools with which to unpick knowledge and to understand and search for truth. But of course ‘the powers that be’ do not want us to know the truth. Knowledge is power after all. Better to switch on the TV and be passified, better to fear, to feel inferior to the idealised images we consume, to not have the tools with which to grow and with which to become empowered and so powerful.
who are we?
Watch this clip and ask
how am I not myself?
how am I not myself?
how am I not my self?
Ha ha! I ♥ Huckabees is one of my all time favourite films, if you haven’t seen it and even if you have, W A T C H I T ! ! It’s hysterically brilliant and just never gets old. I keep wanting to watch it again but every time I mention it Dan rolls his eyes and I feel angry…
Thinking about identity and self is so very important in understanding our relationship to food. Food plays such a huge role in our lives, physically, culturally, socially, emotionally, psychologically. For many the relationship is happy and healthy, for many it is out of kilter, it is causing poor-health and unhappiness. In this world so many of us struggle with our weight (read my guide to sustainable weight loss and my story xx), we lean on a cultural relationship to food to justify our habits, our relationship to food is so psychological, it often tricks us. Also we ’emotionally eat’, turning to food when we are stressed and unhappy. Turning to the wrong foods, not those that nurture but those that burn quickly and leave us wanting more, leave us feeling more off kilter. Others turn against food and use it as a way of controlling their environment. The best thing I learned was to eat foods that made me feel good
before, during and after eating
Food that is beautiful to handle, a pleasure to cook with, that is delicious to eat, and that leaves you feeling nurtured and well, not too full, not sick because it was so rich, but energised and balanced. Food is fuel, we must not be slaves to it, but must strive to understand what it is, in reality. This is such an important part of eating a plant-based diet for me, both recognising the health giving benefits of real wholefoods, and also enjoying never taking anything from an animal and using them in that way, especially as part of a cruel mass-farming system. It is being in reality and really seeing what is going on and what my role is both as a consumer, and as me. For me having an organic fruit and veg box really helped me become mindful about the food I eat, to be a lot more thankful and less wasteful, and take so much more pleasure in it. My identity is changing, my relationship with myself and who I want to be improving through this mindfulness. Balance is key, then we can build up our own relationship with food, and not just keep old cycles of habits going mindlessly, when they aren’t good for us, which is so so easy to do. I am still fighting mine, for example the habit of cooking too much, or putting too much food on the plate, of not understanding how much food I need, less than I think so often. But I’m getting there.
My recent juice fast has been a great help in this, as a tool for resetting behaviours and giving you space to see what it is you have been doing, and what you want to do. And fresh juices I think are a great daily tool, they give you the nutrients you need, and so often food cravings are because of a lack of nutrients. I used to have the most terrible cravings, and then I upped my fruit and veg and they evaporated.
I think as regards food and identity and the Self, recognising our Self as separate in some way, as in flux, is to be able to recognise that we live habitually. Then we can see that habits are not us, but learned behaviours that can be replaced with new learned behaviours. And that also there are causes of these behaviours that when we are talking about ‘bad habit’ such as overeating, or overeating unhealthy foods, are often emotional. And it is this root that needs to be addressed and understood.
why do we do what we do?
It’s a life-long epic journey and adventure to understand this! I say, bring it on! You’re tough enough to handle it and brave enough to make it work and get the most from life!
look after yourself, this week and every week X X
listen to this song and set on your way with a smile, an engaged mind and a lift in your step!