I don’t often choose to listen to podcasts. Yet this recent episode of We Can Do Hard Things resonated so deeply with me that I listened to it twice and have been thinking about it and talking about it for days. It both fired me up and calmed me down. And so, the only logical next step is to write a blog about it!
The podcast was about the idea of being unsatisfiable, which is how I have felt about myself for a long time. When Angelica Schuyler sang about how she, like Alexander Hamilton, would never be satisfied, I felt like she was singing about me. It is both a source of pride and shame for me that I am always striving, always thinking about the next thing.
The point that most interested me during this conversation between hosts Glennon Doyle, Abby Wambach, Amanda Doyle and their guest, adrienne marie brown was that there are cultural messages about what will satisfy us (for example: being skinny, having a beautiful home, making money, getting married) and that when we accept those messages as truth, we either strive for those things or we rebel against them. Buying into the message makes us powerless in our own lives because believing the messaging leaves us with no ability to choose for ourselves. This is the part that fired me up.
Amanda brilliantly captures it with this quote. “As long as the main story is this unsatisfiable destination that doesn’t exist, we are either trying to trek towards that OR we are acting in direct opposition to it.” As Glennon has said in the past, “Rebellion is the same cage as obedience.”
This was an aha moment for me.
adrienne went on to suggest that the only solution is embodying our own selves, tuning in to what we are doing and how we are feeling, what we need and what feels good, trusting that we actually can know that for ourselves. Getting to the point that we know, really truly KNOW that my thing is MY THING. She contends that it takes a “radical stripping down to understand that there is a whole other system setting that you can set up and only when you start acting in operation with that alternate system” can you do any of the things that feel good to us because they are good for us.
Here’s a dumb example. For years…okay for my whole life…I have “chosen” to not floss my teeth as an active act of rebellion. I take care of myself in so many ways, make a lot of healthy choices, but I have literally said to myself, this is the place that I am just not going to do it because I don’t want to do ALL the good things for myself. In this, I will rebel.
But rebel against what exactly? Keeping my teeth?
I also used to be like that with waking up a little early to go for a walk. I was a toddler in my own head, telling myself, “I don’t wanna! You can’t make me!” Make me do what? When I realized the answer was, “you can’t make me feel good for the rest of the day,” everything shifted.
The reason I would or wouldn’t do it before was because the answer was I should do it because someone else is saying it would be good for me. You should exercise. You should floss. You shouldn’t eat chips at lunch every day or brownies before bed every night. Those messages get me to do the “good” habit sometimes, but they just as often get me to rebel against the messaging. When I see the choice as mine, when I evaluate it based solely on how I feel or how I will feel later, then I am so much more likely to make the best choice for me. This is the part that calmed me down.
I feel good when I walk, so I walk most mornings. No tension, no energy around being good or bad, only around what will make me feel good. I will be happy to have healthy teeth and gums as I age, so I will floss (sometimes…let’s not get crazy!). I will eat junk food sometimes because it tastes delicious and other times I won’t because it saps my energy and makes me feel yucky in my body.
I remain unsatisfied more often than I would like…it’s a growth edge for me. But I do now believe that I am satisfiable. We all are. We are simply caught up in pursuing the wrong things, discounting our own inner experiencing about what does satisfy us. Petting my cats, playing board games, a great conversation with someone I love, listening to music, stretching and moving my body, being outside (especially near water)…these are just some of the things that deeply satisfy me. How about you?