How do I Unlearn the Past?

I am actively trying to develop new habits, but they are in direct contrast to the way I was raised as a child and young adult.

I was raised with a strict religious upbringing, which taught me that most things (if not everything) are black and white.  But everything that I’m trying to practice now requires a flexibility that my whole body rejects.  And just learning or understanding it on an intellectual level does not translate into my emotions or behavior. In fact, it makes it worse.  I judge myself because I know better now, but I’m still unable to control myself. Every once in a while, I can beat my old mentality, but the second I let my guard down, it comes rushing in and filling my whole being.

One of the many things I’m working on is developing better eating habits.  I was raised in an environment where I kept the laws of eating Kosher, which means simply, “here are the foods you are allowed to eat, and don’t even think about going anywhere near those other foods.  Seriously, don’t even walk into an establishment that sells those things.”

Now that I’m no longer following the rules of my past, I’m kind of getting lost in the freedom. I have no one telling me what to eat and what not to eat.  And its not that I don’t know the difference between healthy foods and unhealthy foods, its just that I’ve never really been taught how to use my own will power in this arena.  I’ve always had someone (or something) else controlling my eating habits.

Its also not as if I’ve never had periods of healthy eating, but I tend to swing like a pendulum (I told you, “black and white”).  I don’t know how to be comfortable eating one unhealthy item.  I judge myself terribly, and then assume I’ve gone “off the path.” This then allows me to eat all the worst kinds of things, thinking, “Well, I’ve already proven that I am not eating perfectly healthy, so I might as well enjoy all of the [insert junk food choice].”

I know that this all stems from this idea of perfectionism and black and white thinking, but I just don’t know how to unlearn it all.

And eating is just one example.

I Just Want to Stop Feeling Ashamed

In recent months, probably the last year, I have discovered much that I am ashamed of.  My religious background, my sexual past, my education, my current lifestyle, and more.  Some of those I have begun to work on, and while extremely difficult, I persist.

I’m finding that every time I open up the door to work on my shame, I find more things I’m ashamed of.  I’m now at the point that I’m hoping beyond belief that there is a finite number of things of which I am ashamed, and that eventually I’ll have addressed everything by a certain time.  Right now, I’m aiming for by the time I have children and need to raise them.

The other part of me believes that this is false hope. That shame is something that continually develops and requires constant effort.

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I’m not “Therapy-ing” Hard Enough!

The past week, I’ve been frustrated with my progress in therapy.  I’m still fairly new to the whole idea of therapy (I’ve seen my current therapist 4 times so far), and I don’t know if I’m “doing it right.” I know it’s a bizarre thing to think, but I’m wondering if I’m trying too hard or not trying hard enough.  My therapist is trying to figure me out, but she barely knows me.  She’s trying to make sure she doesn’t push me too hard (one of the first things we had discovered together in our first session together was that I tend to push myself too hard), and I’m trying to take advantage of our time together.  It’s an interesting tango, to say the least.  But it constantly leaves me wondering if I could be pushing myself more, thereby growing faster, healing faster, learning more, etc.  This “slowing down” idea and not pushing myself too far goes against everything for which my body has been conditioned.  But my brain knows that whatever my tendency to push things too far, slowing down will teach me many lessons.

After I was done blaming my therapist for not pushing me enough, I tried figuring out what was really motivating me to have these feelings. I came up with 2 theories:

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