What is the payoff?

If you are constantly stuck in a rut, doing things that you don’t want to do, there has to be a payoff. Discover what that is and address it, and you’ll fix the problem.

Say you want to get in shape, but you keep overeating and “cheating” on your exercise routine. You “forget” to walk or go to the gym. You eat three pieces of pie when really you only wanted half a piece. You eat too much at the buffet, even though you say you don’t want to, again and again.

You feel guilty after you do these things, but you keep doing them.

They are symptoms, not the source.

Dig down further.

Who first taught you what to feel about yourself? What did they say? How did they make you feel?

Perhaps your family ignored you most of the time. Perhaps the only time that they even talked to you was to complain about your size or how you “were eating them out of house and home.” You were called fat, lazy, worthless.

Negative attention is still attention.

So as an adult, you still need attention.

But you’ve been taught that the only way to get attention is to be fat, lazy, or worthless.

So you keep repeating that message to yourself.

So you’ll overeat, and skip the gym, and fail, over and over, because that is how you were taught you should be treated. Even though they aren’t telling you this message anymore, you are now telling it to yourself.

Time to learn a new message, and retrain your brain.

Time to create a different payoff – where you get happy that you have achieved a goal. Maybe the goal was only eating two plates at the buffet, instead of four. Maybe the goal was parking the car further away in the parking lot so you had to walk further to get to work.

Little goals count. They add up.

Just like coming off being addicted to a drug, relearning how to treat yourself with kindness takes a lot of work. You have to rewire your brain. New healthy habits don’t have the same kind of payoff that the old bad habits do – not yet. The old habits were wired into you for years – and the work was done by people you should have been able to trust – your family or friends.

It is hard to go against the feeling of loyalty to your family. It is hard to treat yourself differently than how they treated you, even if it is healthier.

But if they weren’t kind and loving to you, they were your family or friends in name only.

Your first and best obligation is to yourself. Your body and your mind are your first and truest homes.

It is time to remodel.

It is going to be messy.

It is worth it.

You are worth it.

Waiting. (on family, blood and otherwise)

I’m at the Frist, a Nashville art museum. My husband asked to go this time. Plenty of times I’ve wanted to go and he has come along to humor me. I’ve asked him repeatedly to tell me if there is something he wants to do. It is important to me that he express himself. I want him to be the best he can be – to be the person he is meant to be.

I don’t want him to just go along with what I want because I want it. That is how he was raised. Just agree. Keep the peace. Your opinion doesn’t matter.

I’m trying to retrain him. It is kind of like getting a shelter dog.

This show is on Art Deco cars. There are actual cars inside this museum. I’m a little curious about how they got in here. The place is packed. I think it is smart that they timed this with the movie “The Great Gatsby”.

I’m bored senseless.

I’m glad there is a bench for me to sit on, because my husband has taken three times as long as I expected in the first room alone.

I remember a time when I was working in Chattanooga. A family came into the craft store I managed. It was the middle of the day and they were all a little tired and cranky. Naps should be built into vacations, but they aren’t.

The mom came in and her son, all of 4 or 5, came in just afterwards. He took one quick look around and, realizing there were no toys there for him, said in a loud voice “All right Mom, time to go!” Mom’s smile faded. Her shoulders slumped, and she started to leave.

Something struck me as very wrong about this. I decided to speak up.

As her son stomped towards the door, I said “Hold on, buckaroo.” That got his attention, and Mom’s. So far, so good.

You run a risk when you challenge people’s children. The parents tend to take it personally, as a statement against their parenting skills. Sometimes it is. But sometimes it does indeed “take a village.”

I continued. I made a pretty good guess about what they had been up to today to illustrate a point. I started with “I bet that you’ve been to the Aquarium and to the Creative Discovery Museum today.” Everything hinged on this being true. Yup. They had, he nodded. So far, so good.

I followed with “I bet your Mom waited on you while you were there, having a good time.” Also a guess, but a safe one. This looked like a self-sacrificing kind of Mom. Yup, another nod. The set up was complete. I continued. “This is a place that your Mom wants to see. It is your turn to wait on her. That is part of being in a family.”

Boom. He got it. He sat down in a corner, out of the way, and was perfect. He waited, patiently.

Mom and Dad were stunned. They stared at me. “Can we bring him back for behavioral training?” they asked. I explained that no, it isn’t about him. It is about them. They have to explain the give and take of being in a family. I explained that he wants to please them and not to just get his way all the time. He needs to learn about sharing. They have to explain it.

I’m reminded of the Hawaiian word “ohana” – nobody gets left behind. This is a concept some of us learned from the movie “Lilo and Stitch”. It is a word for family. In the biggest concept it means all family – blood, adopted, and intentional.

We are family, my husband and I. Family isn’t about blood. It is a feeling. We chose each other. We choose to be together, to look out for each other, to cheer each other on. We learned from the friend who married us that “Joy shared doubles it, trouble shared halves it.” That is part of what being in a family means too.

You can be blood kin to somebody and they aren’t very nice. You can have a better relationship with friends than your own kin. Family isn’t about blood but action. You have to make a family to be in a family.

Sometimes being in a family isn’t easy. Sometimes it isn’t very fun.

Right now I’m feeling pretty bored. But I’m glad I’ve got a way to write in my blog while I wait. I’m glad we got to be here for free. And I’m glad that he asked to go to this, and is enjoying it so much.

I’m grateful for this funny little family we have.