I just finished a really interesting book I plucked off the shelf called The Examined Life and it was both an intellectually and emotionally stimulating read.
Beautifully written by psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz, the book is a compilation of the stories of Grosz’s patients, stories that demonstrate how powerful the psychoanalytic process can be in changing the way people see themselves and the issues they’re struggling with in their lives. Grosz showed that gentle and compassionate curiosity can be transformative not only for the patient but for the analyst and reader as well.
I closed the book and was inspired to examine a few problematic issues in my life a little closer and a little deeper.
The first issue I re-examined was my diet. For the past three months (and most of my life) I had been obsessively eating anything salty and crunchy — mostly Doritos (I like Zesty Cheese), but also corn chips, Party Mix, Bits n Bites, regular and kettle cooked chips, plantain chips… I’d better stop there. I definitely didn’t stop at just one or one bag for that matter. I was out of control and concluded that I couldn’t be trusted to have a chip of any kind ever again. OK, I’m a little dramatic but it wasn’t just chips that were a problem. It was food in general. I was insatiable when it came to food and I decided that I always would be.
The second wonky issue I have is my relationship with social media. I had been uncertain about blogging for a long time but started anyway and I have resisted almost all social networking for unknown reasons. My gut told me “no”. It said “don’t” and I listened. But, after blogging for almost a month, I’m starting to understand why I had that instinct. My feelings get hurt too easily, a sentiment similar to Amy Poehler’s here. A comment that disagrees with what I’ve written irritates me more than it should and I become overly defensive about it. But I also discovered quite quickly that while I loved writing the posts, I was becoming obsessed with getting any type comments, likes, and followers. I tracked views like a crackhead. I checked my stats more than I wrote or even thought about writing. I started to feel needy for feedback and validation. I felt awful if I didn’t get it and even if I did, I wanted more. I considered giving up blogging.
My issues with food and blogging are kind of the same. No matter how much I ate, I never felt full. No matter how many views or likes I got, I wanted more.
Before I read The Examined Life, I just thought I was a food and validation addict. I just thought I couldn’t control myself and I was shallow and desperate.
After reading The Examined Life, I have a different perspective.
I decided to go on a chip-free diet. Well, that was just a start. I cut out almost all carbohydrates, including fruit. The only carbs I ate came from vegetables and something interesting happened. I almost immediately felt less hungry and more satisfied with less food. My cravings for any thing sweet or chip-like disappeared. I realized I wasn’t a food addict. Instead, eating certain foods created an addict out of me because they didn’t give the fullness or nutrition my body needed. The food I was eating didn’t feed me properly.
I realized something similar was happening with the very little I was exposed to social media. I had this realization with the online relationships I developed years ago. I’m not desperate or needy for validation. Likes, followers, views are great. An email from a pal is great. It just isn’t satisfying my needs for human contact and connection. I keep checking stats because I want something deeper, like a conversation. Checking stats created an addict out of me because I wasn’t getting the human contact I craved. Stats weren’t feeding me properly.
My needs weren’t being met and realizing that made me look for other ways to feel full.
That’s maybe too much navel gazing. Let me wrap it up by sharing some rules I’ve created to be less of an addict.
Do you know writer Michael Pollan’s three simple food rules to follow when making decisions about what to eat?
1. Eat food.
2. Not too much.
3. Mostly plants.
Here are my own rules for feeling full in every way:
How to Eat
1. Eat food.
2. Eat food when you’re hungry.
3. Mostly protein and vegetables.
How to Connect to People
1. Talk to people.
2. Talk to people you know.
3. Talk to people you know face to face.
How to be Happy
2. Write everyday.
3. Do it for the rest of your life.
Are you struggling with social media or anything else? Have you gained any insights after examining your life? I’d love to read about it.