Freedom can be a really scary concept for people, and not just when it comes to food.
As I’ve mentioned before, the rest of our lives are VERY intertwined with our relationships to both food and our bodies.
A recent theme with clients, myself, and my social circle is the concept of self-trust when it comes to freedom.
Oftentimes, we have either convinced ourselves or have been convinced by others that we don’t have the capacity or ability to self-regulate.
That we aren’t to be trusted.
That we need rigid rules and guidelines to dictate our behavior.
That we’ll go off the deep end and find ourselves in a dark hole of destructive behavior if we’re not ruled by an iron fist (or list of dietary rules).
But will we?
The short answer is no.
We have the capacity to tune into our own intuition, to reflect on our behavior and motivations, to be honest with ourselves, and to adjust our actions and decisions based on the outcomes of previous ones.
In order to accomplish this, we first have to be open to the idea that we can, in fact, trust ourselves.
Note that this doesn’t mean we immediately trust ourselves, but we start by accepting the idea that we can trust ourselves.
You know, that whole “open mind” thing.
Sure, the beginning is rocky, and self-awareness is absolutely essential, but the end result is a solid understanding of:
our own motivations
our own hierarchy of values
what we’re willing to sacrifice (or not)
what we’re willing to accept for ourselves
if the goals we believe to be ours are truly our goals
and much more
In order to be open to the idea of regulating our own behavior and trusting ourselves, despite our primal instincts and ego-driven thoughts, we have to reject the notion that we should fear ourselves.
Many of us have been told from every angle that we must defer to others to make important decisions for ourselves, so it’s no great surprise that our faith in our own decision-making has eroded.
As you read this, you may not be thinking of rigid diet and food rules—at least not in isolation.
Perhaps you’re thinking of how you’ve outsourced your decision-making related to:
The path and timing of major life events (marriage, children, buying a house, etc.)
Your religious or political values
Your sexual preferences
Where you live
Your career path
How you choose to spend your free time
What your relationship looks like to others
This is all valuable information!
As I stated above, our relationships to food are often a reflection of other areas of our lives.
In order to develop greater trust with food, we need to develop greater trust with ourselves everywhere in life.
It all works in tandem.
So—let’s say this this hits home for you, you realize that you have a pattern of deferring to others when it comes to making decisions in your life, and you realize that you’ve subscribed to the false notion that you can’t trust yourself to make the best decision for yourself.
How do you start unraveling this narrative?
By purposefully and intentionally granting yourself more freedom.
The only way to develop self-trust is to throw ourselves into the arena, gather feedback and data, self-reflect, come up with another strategy, and go back in with another attempt.
We just need one small win to get the ball rolling—we need inertia to begin the process of believing that we’re capable.
Examples of Turning into Your Own Intuition
If you typically read articles, magazines, Instagram, or ask others what foods are best to eat, commit to answering this question for yourself.
What feels best to YOU in this moment? How much of this food does my body truly want?
If you typically ask your family what you should do when it comes to your career, tune into what your own intuition is telling you.
Which decision feels the most light and peaceful in your own body?
If you don’t believe you’re capable of choosing the right relationships in your life, ask yourself how you feel when you’re around this person/people.
Are you having to convince yourself they’re right for you, despite feeling uneasy or insecure? Or do they feel aligned with who you are and where you’re going on a deeper level?
If everyone in your social circle is drinking alcohol at an upcoming event, you don’t want to partake (or at least not heavily), and you doubt your ability to practice moderation or abstain—challenge yourself to make the best choice for your own well-being.
Am I making this choice to please myself or to please others? Will this cause myself harm in order to mitigate some brief discomfort? Which decision puts my well-being at the forefront?
These may seem small, or they may seem like monumental challenges.
Either way, they’re proof that you can trust yourself to make decisions about your own life and your own body.
And if you “fail” your first few attempts, commit to stepping up to the plate again and again.
Every single one of us is capable of developing trust within ourselves, and the importance of this can’t be overstated.
There is absolutely a time and place for expert and external advice, but this should be coupled with a strong sense of self and personal intuition as our foundation.