It’s Easter, so let’s talk about chocolate.
Earlier this year I invested in some personal coaching sessions. This was prompted by realising that, at the age I’ve reached, my body isn’t behaving like it used to. The main thing I’m noticing is the dreaded middle age spread taking hold. I know full well what I need to do to reverse the trend, and it involves cutting back on the sweet stuff: chocolate, cakes, biscuits. For some reason I’ve become more and more self-indulgent with these, even though I know they’re not good for me. What on earth is going on here?
In talking things through with Coach Karen there came an insight that bowled me over. Read on, and I’ll tell you more.
As a child I was blessed with parents that loved me unconditionally. They told me how it’s the person on the inside that matters, and that I am no more and no less important than anyone else. Our family values weren’t around looking fashionable or highly polished. My mum loved gardening and she had gardener’s hands and fingernails. She had a face that was brown and wrinkled from the hours outdoors and make-up never sat that comfortably on her face. I thought she was beautiful. Indeed, she was.
The things our influencers say and do shape who we are, particularly when they make remarks about us directly. And in between those rather wonderful messages about self-worth and equality was another thing I heard my mum say quite often: “Ah, Rebecca has a real Sweet Tooth!”
Now, I wouldn’t be the only small child who liked sweeties. But you know what? Because I grew up with a set of values that say it doesn’t matter so very much what you look like on the outside, it’s what’s on the inside that matters – over the years I’ve indulged my maternally-approved Sweet Tooth to the point where I’m simply not burning it all away any more.
It’s a great example of how ‘labels’ and values that were applied and instilled with the best possible intention can morph into something less beneficial over time. Some things I’ve worked out this year:
1. I don’t have a Sweet Tooth at all. I’ve never had sugar in my tea or coffee, I don’t like fizzy drinks and sweetened breakfast cereals put my teeth on edge.
2. When I do eat something sweet, it feels like a small but satisfying rebellion against ‘glossy magazine culture’. We’re constantly being told that sweets and cakes are ‘naughty’ and salad is ‘good’. Remember Kate Moss saying “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels?” Yeah, that. It winds me up.
3. And here’s the big one: when I say no to a slice of cake, there’s a sense of being disloyal to the label my mum so affectionately awarded me when I was small. I’m no longer her little girl with a Sweet Tooth, I’m choosing to be someone else. It feels a little sad, even as I know I honour my mum best by keeping my body healthy.
The pull from the foundations of our childhood are stronger than Kryptonite. Even when they were set lovingly and with a positive intention, there comes a time when other circumstances shift and those foundations no longer do the job properly. That’s when we serve ourselves best by taking a long hard look inside, making a proper, grown up decision, thanking that belief for its past service then dismissing it into retirement.
Winnthinking People Development
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