Do you ever struggle with temptation with a voice on one shoulder telling you to be strong while a voice on the other shoulders seductively says that a little bit won’t hurt? Do you ever struggle with frustration/sadness/loneliness and sometimes fill the hurt with a treat? Guess what? So do I…
I tend to have at least one person a day in tears in my clinic. People often come to see me as ‘the last straw’ when they are overwhelmed with feelings of frustration and guilt. We see others with a smile on their face and think “why can’t I be like them? Why can’t I have what she has?”
I admit I don’t struggle much with diet. I find it pretty easy to eat healthily, but don’t be deceived, I struggle as much with temptation and frustration as anyone else – just different types of temptations.
Let me share with you a few of the strategies that I’ve learnt that help me when I’m having a bad day:
1. Focus on others more than myself
On the days when I’m going through a challenging time and feeling down, I become more and more self-focused. “Why can’t I have this? It’s not fair – I deserve better!” my heart says. Hmmm…. when I see more clearly I notice that there’s way too many ‘I’s’ in my self talk. When I’m focusing on helping others I don’t feel my own problems as much. I remember that I’m not the only with problems. The happiest, most inspirational people are often the most humble; they think about building up others, rather than about their ‘rights’.
It’s sometimes easy to forget in our self-centred society though. To remind me to think more about others than on myself, I have strategically placed reminders such as the wallpaper my mobile phone, the bookmark in my book and in my handbag – these are great at helping me get back into the correct train of thought when my thoughts are getting off-track.
2. Put things in perspective
What’s really important? So what if someone doesn’t agree with my opinion or I have too much work on my plate? We need to let the small things go. We need to focus on the important things – spending adequate time with the people that we love, looking after ourselves, doing what we can to make a difference. Life isn’t fair; don’t expect it to be – instead focus on what’s important.
3. Aim for improvement rather than perfection
I have the tendency so lean on the perfectionist side. After many knocks I’ve learnt that Rome wasn’t built in a day, so I can’t expect perfection to be obtained within 24 hours either. Just because I want to change something or fix something, sometimes my goals are too big and unrealistic, and in fact, the journey is just as important as the destination. If someone were really to wave a magic wand and immediately fix all of my battles, I would have missed out on a lot of learning about patience, humility and empathy.
4. Cut out the clutter
Life in the 21st Century is busy. As technology gets faster, we are expected to do more. I’ve learnt that business can sometimes lead to a lack of time for the basics – good food, exercise, fresh air, adequate sleep and time with loved ones. This in turn makes me more emotional, and more vulnerable to give in to my temptations. I’ve found that it’s important to make time for regeneration. For example – I now plan at least one annual holiday, I’ve made a rule for myself never to work on a Sunday (and I stick to it!) and I ensure that I speak to my mum (my best friend) daily.
5. Organise a good support team
Again we all have challenges in life, and when they hit, we need a good support team to keep us from turning back to our old temptations. Our support team should include those who will not judge us even when we fall over, but who care about us enough to tell us what we need to hear, rather than what we just want to hear. I am so grateful for all those in my life who I know for many of my clients, I am part of their support team, and although they get to a stage where they no longer need me, they know that I am there when they fall over and need help getting back up again.
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