Want the immune system of a caveman? Harness the unlimited power of lightning? Hair as glossy as the hide of a newborn calf? The secret superfood that will cure social anxiety?
For those of us interested in a holistic lifestyle, the internet and the self help section of your local bookstore are full of instructions, the recipes for a perfect life: Impeccable heath. Unlimited wealth. Fulfilling relationships. Sexual magnetism. A successful career. Agelessness, fearlessness, a struggle-free life. All of these seem just around the corner if only we just eat/read/think/act in just the right way. I often finish reading these articles and feel temporarily inspired, followed by welling sense of unease. Have I been doing something wrong all along? Is dairy the source of all my woes? Why have I been cleaning my skin with soap? Is there anything I CAN eat? A shame and fear spiral begins and I make yet another pact with myself to do it right, THIS TIME.
At the root of all of these articles, a few messages seem to rise to the top:
You are not enough.
You cannot trust yourself.
You’ve been doing it all wrong.
Something terrible could happen to you.
One article really put me over the top.
It wasn’t that this guy was necessarily wrong. It was that I was suddenly feeling inadequate because a complete stranger was telling me all the ways I need to live my life. The same old shame spiral began to swallow me up. And then I stopped, and did, in fact, have a realization: Any list that claims there’s something “you need to realize” is probably missing a few pieces, such as, I don’t know, the infinite variety of human experience. This list was likely written by a douchey 26-year-old sitting on the 30th floor of a Manhattan high rise who has only peed outside twice in his life. I don’t care what this guys thinks I need to realize. What matters is what I think, and what matters most to me.
I encourage you to write your own list of things you know to be true. This is a list of things I’ve learned but keep forgetting.
1. Stop reading so many lists and start making them.
2. Move your body. Every day.
3. Do things that make you feel silly and a little embarrassed. It makes your heart grow bigger.
4. Don’t mind so much what other people do or don’t think of you. If they really knew you, they’d think you were amazing.
5. “Don’t try to win over the haters; you are not a jackass whisperer.” -Brene Brown.
6. As long as you believe you are not enough (your body, your bank account, your brain), you will not be enough. Being good enough is a choice, not an endpoint. It starts now.
7. Stop “should-ing” all over yourself.
8. Shame. Powerlessness. Fear. Seek them out and shine the warmth of your compassion on them. They with shrink with the brightness of your love.
9. When you remember, put down the phone/computer/book. Just sit there and be with yourself.
10. This choice, this day, this anxiety (or whatever the “this” is that is dominating your brainspace) probably doesn’t matter nearly as much as it seems to.
11. As dark as your darkness goes, this is your capacity for light.
12. If you really listen, your body can tell you the answers.
13. Loving ourselves is a task worth taking on.
15. Don’t be afraid to be brilliant.
16. Most crazy behavior can be traced back to fear. Have compassion for yourself and others. Most people are just scared shitless much of the time.
17. There is nothing wrong with you. (And in fact, there is nothing wrong.)
18. When all else fails, surrender.
19. When that fails, read poetry.
20. Our willingness to be vulnerable is key to love and connection. It is the marker of our bravery. It is worth the discomfort.
21.Serving others is a secret fountain of joy that our generation has nearly lost sight of.
22. No one can tell you what your right life is.
23.No one told you this was going to be easy.
24. Instead of reacting, just watch the sensations in your body.
25. Therapy is good. And so is cooking. And so is weeding your garden. And so is exercise. And so is a big cry into your pillow once in a while.
26. Build your toolbox of things that makes you feel more sane and connected. Return to that toolbox again and again.
27. Grace is the ability to transform our greatest challenges into our greatest teachers.
28. Be gentle with yourself.
29. Let life be a conversation.
30.“You must learn one thing. The world was made to be free in. Give up all the other worlds except the one in which you belong.” ― David Whyte
~ Sarah Erickson is from Pittsboro, NC. In the midst of a full-on Saturn Returnrage, three months ago Sarah moved from a hundred-year old farmhouse on seven acres of North Carolina woods to in Brooklyn, NY to work full time for Wanderlust. At Wanderlust, Sarah coordinates the food and vendor experience, a job she discovered via a midnight twitter post. Sarah was raised on a co-housing community amongst therapists, artists, and organic farmers. In her free time she practices yoga, reads books on spirituality, researches health and food politics, and talks about all her feelings. A lot.