There is a pervasive idea in our culture - and I think we largely buy into it - that, in order to lose weight and be healthy, one needs to simply “take charge” and “get it done.” Be the opposite of lazy. If you want it, will it to happen. That message is evident in many popular nutrition and diet books. Just check out some of these tag lines.
“A Plan to Power Your Health”
“Optimize Your Health”
“Easy Plans to Beat Sugar”
It’s all so aggressive. Evokes images of the battlefield. Suggests that we need to assert ourselves in fighter mode.
Then they like to say how easy it is. Terms like “quick-fix,” “easy plans,” and “fast & easy” litter many of the covers.
And, lastly, it can all be done in 10 days. Or is it 7 days? Oh, wait, 21 days.
This tag has it all.
“A Powerful New Plan To Blast Fat And Reignite Your Energy in Just 21 Days.”
Frankly, this all makes me feel that I’m not doing enough, I’m not willful enough, not doing it fast enough, and that I am missing out on some secret, silver bullet.
It is very true that, in order to lose weight and be healthy, one has to assert themselves and actively participate in their own healing. There is no way around that. I’m sure many of these books offer legitimate paths towards good health. However, I don’t know if willful determination is really all we need. I think there is an approach that is more interesting and subtle. Namely that, in addition to determination, we could develop a quality of acceptance, resignation, and obedience, as well. We must employ the usefulness of both contrasting energies - assertiveness and obedience - as interdependent and inseparable. By “resignation,” I don’t mean to give up and accept defeat. Rather, I mean the acceptance of certain truths about our situation and doing something we may not want to do.
I know that “obedience” is not a popular idea. We all have complicated feelings about that. Memories of punitive, domineering authority figures pop up immediately. We prefer to be free, autonomous, and in charge of our own lives. Nevertheless, I observe in those who struggle with their weight that they struggle as much with being willing to let go of intrenched habits and allow themselves to be brought along on the unpredictable journey of change. This is where our “willfulness” can actually hinder us from allowing change to take place.
We are not so unfamiliar with being obedient creatures. For many efforts in life, we follow some kind of process to manifest change. If we make a meal, we follow a recipe. If we want a graduate degree, we take requisite classes. If we want to buy something at a store, we stand in line. All these actions require discipline, focus, and a willingness to follow a process. They may involve rules we impose on ourselves or rules we invite in from the external world. All aspects of resigning to the way things get done.
From a logical standpoint, we, first, accept that we have an issue to address. Secondly, we come upon a solution. Thirdly, we actively take up that solution. And, lastly, we obediently work our solution daily. In this flow, we see how elements of both acceptance and assertiveness are interwoven and benefit the same cause.
It is crucial to understand that, when resigning ourselves obediently to a process, we aren’t relinquishing our personal freedom. We actually do so in service of manifesting a more profound freedom. Accepting small sacrifices in exchange for a greater reward.
It’s OK, there’s really nothing to be afraid. When our hearts are fearlessly open and resigned to the full nature of our problem, we can assertively embrace a solution. Live in honesty, live in the solution, and move towards the light.