We can eat all the kale in the world, boost green drinks until the cows come home, run monthly marathons and hit the gym 24/7, but if we do not have self-love, compassion and the ability to see that nothing outside of us can make us feel the way we do, we will likely end up sick- or at the very least, unhappy.
When I first started out in field of nutrition over five years ago, I was damn near obsessed with everything I put into my body. I would spend hours analyzing food labels at the grocery store, go into meltdown modes if my friends and family didn’t go to the “healthier” restaurant I wanted to go to and used a good amount of my free time to read and research all of the food I put into my body.
Working at a digestive health clinic didn’t help at all with my food obsession because I was constantly exposed to the inner workings of the bowel and saw at first hand experience exactly the amount of built up waste that could be removed and released from the body.
Obsessive About Food
It made me even more obsessive and continuously analyzing what I ate every day, all day long. Working at the digestive health clinic had me convinced that all of my health problems, including my low moods and dips of depression were due to every single thing I ate.
I also found myself more than ever criticizing others for what they were consuming and even turned down party invitations from friends because I didn’t want to tempt myself with the processed junk foods and alcohol they were serving up.
Going to the Extreme
I crammed spin classes, running and weights into a least five days a week and spent hundreds of dollars a month on natural health supplements, just in case I still wasn’t getting “enough” from all my gluten-free this and that, green smoothies and vegetarian diet.
I won’t lie, I still do a lot of these things, but have adapted my extreme health conscious living and embraced a MUCH more balanced way of being.
Even though I thought I was doing all the “right” things to be healthy and equally important, happy, there was still one major problem. I may have looked healthy on the outside, but I sure as heck wasn’t feeling healthy on the inside.
And I definitely wasn’t as HAPPY as I wanted to be.
It came to my attention over the years of living like this that even with all my extreme and excessive healthy behaviours, I still couldn’t shake my feeling of unhappiness and that was something wasn’t quite right on the inside.
I thought I had it all figured out. Eat clean, exercise regularly, take my handful of supplements and I would be healthy and happy.
Lack of LOVE- For Myself.
Deep down I couldn’t shake this feeling that something was lacking. Something was missing. I came to realize over the years of inner self-work, therapy and alternative healing modalities that something missing, was ME.
The love and compassion for myself was nearly non-existent and if I didn’t stop to take some time to do some serious self-reflection, I would continue to live in a perpetual state of lack and unhappiness.
I was really good at doing my best not to judge others, but when it came to myself I got a big fat D+. I was really good at giving everyone else everything I had, which at times left me feeling depleted and depressed, but still didn’t know how to give my everything to myself.
I was on a detox plan every other week, literally trying to cleanse my negative thoughts, feelings and moods from me. I thought I could literally cleanse and juice myself happy.
As I began to make the connection with my lack of self-love and unreviewed thoughts (that were ruling my mind and still do from time to today-especially when a wicked case of PMS bites me every now and then) and my feelings of unhappiness, I started to understand that it really didn’t matter how many salads, superfoods and smoothies I consumed in a day.
If I did not address my mind and start to create a routine and life of self-love and self-care, that I would continue to be doomed and gloomed in my tiny reality that I had created. I would continue to live in a perpetual state of unhappiness, feeling empty inside and search outside myself for things to fill the void.
External Vs. Internal
The bottom line? I had to stop focusing on all the things “out there” that I thought would make me happy and whole and start focusing on what was going on “in here” in my heart and my head.
Green drinks and kale still continued to play a most important role in my life, but what become equally if not more important, was taking the time each day to scan my thoughts. I started to replace harsh nicknames for myself with loving ones, like sweetheart, honey and sugar.
When my inner critic kicked in and say things like “Oh Jacks, that’s so typical of you. You clutz.” after having broken a glass or doing some clumsy, I took the time to stop and say things instead like “It’s okay sweetie, it’s no big deal!”
Self-criticism, lack of self-love and striving for perfection can leave us in a state of feeling not good enough and simply unworthy to the point where it causes us to reach outward and seek people and things to fill the gap.
I think it has become an epidemic in our fast-paced, dog-eat-dog society to focus on the outer and the external things that will make us happy, healthy and create love in our life. What I have learned over the years and continue to re-learn every single day, is that no person, place or thing can make me happy and provide me with the love I need in this life.
A Thing Called Love
Sure we can receive love from our friends, family, loved ones, even strangers, but if we rely solely on these external sources for the love, health, and happiness in our life and, we will be let down time and time again and continue to search for answers that make up for that feeling of when something is missing.
I can’t speak for others, but I can say that I have come to realize that something that was missing was me. That feeling that I just couldn’t shake when something was not quite right deep down inside, was me. That answer I have searched the world for, through world travel, relationships, jobs and even moving to another continent at one time, was me.
I was missing the LOVE for myself and the understanding that all these things (the people, places and material items) could not fill me up and make me feel whole the way I had wanted them to.
When we get this- truly really get this, the hopeless search ends and SELF-DISCOVERY can begin.
If we continue to allow our thoughts to run wild and live day in and day out in self-loathing, self-judgment and lack of self-love, we will not be as happy or health as we could be.
Sources of Love
And if we continue to look to outside sources- our relationships, partners, family, friend, homes, cars, clothes and careers to create a life of love, health and happiness will be relentlessly disappointed and let down.
Sure nutrition, exercise and engaging in healthy activity play a vital role in our health and happiness. But self-love and finding love within is just as equally as important to our health and happiness.
No detox program, smoothie or amount of physical activity can provide us with the wholeness, health and happiness that many of us may seek. I still love and regularly engage in my personal healthy behaviours, but I have come to know that I cannot rely on these alone to create the health and happiness I desire.
I am still working my butt off today and probably will every day moving forward until self-love becomes equally as a routine as other health habits, like eating kale salad.
Green drinks and kale are simply not enough when it comes to our health. When we are ready to dig deep, we can find an additional source of love, health and happiness within.