Like many people (read: everyone) I know, I eat to feel “better.”
Lately, the go-to food of choice for easing emotional bumps is the Cinnamon Crunch Bagel from Panera.
I accidentally remembered that Panera existed recently when I started going to the gym the next town over. My gym is just one stone’s throw (literally) from the place where they bake sinfully wonderful sugary goodness — paired with free Wifi and coffee.
In Connecticut, we like to sort of hide our strip malls behind trees. Also we feign heart attacks at the idea of driving to the next town over. So I’d blanked how wonderful Shelton is — with its shops, strip malls, stores, restaurants and fitness clubs, actually closer to our house than most places here in town.
Now, I am pretty sure I am failing in the “get fit” program I organized with the trainer when I didn’t tell him my plans to depart the gym and go directly to Panera after every workout.
Have you heard of Dr. Brene’ (you say Breh-NAY) Brown? I hadn’t till a friend introduced me to her.
After processing her ideas, suddenly my desire to cram sugary bagels down my throat after sad 30 minutes walking on the treadmill makes more sense to me.
Brown is a speaker and researcher from the U. of Houston … she’s got quite a few great talks available online, but here I’ll offer you the one she gave at my old stomping ground TEDx-KC at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. She studies vulnerability, courage and shame and asks the questions:
How do we learn to embrace our vulnerabilities and imperfections so that we can engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to recognize that we are enough – that we are worthy of love, belonging, and joy?
Listening to Brown talk about the deep connection between our sense of shame, our feelings of scarcity that pummel us in the media (I’m not enough), and our fear of seeing the beauty in the ordinary hit home to me. No wonder I wanted to eat a crunchy sugary bagel. So much of my instinct wanted to hear that the bits and pieces of the day was where the beauty was. But then the waves of “higher-more-better-sooner” would hit and I’d get caught up in a spin of expectations and feel the anxiety rising.
“I am not good enough” was the chorus of the song playing on the skipping record.
In honor of Brown and her research, I am adding a new page to my site called “Ordinary Thanks.”
I’ll be posting there as often as I can, hopefully to remind myself, as she suggests, about why practicing gratitude is important not just to our connections with others, but for getting me past that place of scarcity.
Thanks for reading. And thanks to my friend Chris for suggesting Brene to me.
This post is part of the BIG QUESTION series for March: “What is Eating You?“