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.

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2 thoughts on “How do I Unlearn the Past?

  1. This is a common problem–not just with those who’ve been raised in a strict religious doctrine. You’ve made the important first step: identifying black and white thinking. I also suffered from this for a long time. As you get older, it becomes easier to let go of it, to be comfortable living in the “grey” zone. As far as eating goes there are some of us who have to avoid gluten or nuts or eggs even though we may not like it. Trans fats are terribly unhealthy and yet they are still in many delicious foods. So, just like the laws of kosher provide a structure and guide what a Jew can eat, nutritious eating also involves following guidelines. Hopefully, you’ll work on getting rid of the guilt, realizing that an occasional brownie won’t kill you, and choosing an eating plan makes YOU feel your best. Who knows, that may even include kosher meat. Bon appetit!

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    • Thank you for the kind words! Is there a way to speed up the process of becoming comfortable with the grey area, other than just “getting older?” I’m more than familiar with nutrition, and its not that I don’t know which foods to stay away from, its that I choose not to stay away from them. I definitely will have to work on my guilt, and I suspect thats where most of the issues stem from.

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