Everyone has heard it said that we are our own worst critic, but have you ever realized that we are also our very own greatest limit?
The good news is that those limits lift dramatically when we find out how to get out of the way.
Why does this happen?
It’s All a Matter of Taste
When we are born, we have a taste for, a smell for, and a touch for that which will nourish us and keep us safe and warm. Basically, we are born wanting to get back into the womb but since we can’t have that we develop a taste for, a smell for, and a touch for that which feels the closest to that womb. Mother’s touch, her milk, her pheromones. Some call it survival instinct, but I think I see it more as comfort instinct. If we had it our way from the start we would stay in the womb and never come out, it was perfect in there.
As we grow, we are introduced to new things, each one getting further and further from the womb. Often, it’s uncomfortable and in raising children you must be careful about introducing things that may cause too much discomfort because that can lead to trauma. Think about the oral retention that would develop for instance, if you replaced the nipple with Tabasco instead of a slow ween to a bottle. In a decade or two time, however, Tabasco sauce may become more comforting than milk.
Tastes Change but Habits Remain
Now here is a curious thing. We develop these behaviors of going towards things that are good for us, initially at least. We think they are the best things for us. Our tastes tell us our mothers’ milk is our livelihood and so we gravitate towards it. But, very quickly it becomes more of a habit than a taste that is good for us. At some point we need much more than mothers’ milk, but it’s too late because now we have a habit. Our taste for and our habit of mothers’ milk is weakening our ability to grow.
The Easy Road
Now that we have a habit it’s very hard to introduce new tastes unless it’s sugar. Sugar for kids and other easy pleasure foods like pizza for adults can act to stimulate a similar hormonal response to breastfeeding. Feeding a toddler is no easy feat and that’s why for the next 10 years of life in a lot of households it’s like, “Honey let’s stop the fight, just load the kid up with sugar!” Tastes however, as we have seen, quickly become habits and at this point our tastes have become driven solely by what is most comforting. What we think will satisfy us based on tastes and habit, however, is the number one killer on this planet… yet we continue.
A Note on Limits
How much different is this from how we think we know what’s best for us. We think we know the man who is “our type” or we think we know the music that “gets us going” best. This taste and the subsequent habits lead to small lives. We are stuck only seeking our type, meanwhile missing out on a huge and vastly bountiful sea of possibility. We find ourselves going to the same club night after night and miss out on a new style of music or dancing that may, in fact, help to liberate our soul more than we could have ever dreamed.
Back to Food
How many times has a friend gotten you to try something to eat that you thought you wouldn’t like only to come back around and say, “Thank you for making me try that, it’s my new favorite!” That feeling, that epiphany, is so much better than climbing back into the womb because it’s a discovery. That discovery, when we get out of our own way, is something that can drive us to greatness by stretching our limits and exploring deeper our relationships, sex, travel, foods, and career opportunities.
To Discover Your Truth
You must get out of your way. You must let your tastes and habits and opinions drop. You must realize that they aren’t your safekeeping. They are just a remnant of you sucking your mamma’s teat and the poor eating is a symptom much like throwing a fit if you don’t get that teat. If tastes and habits are destroyed and the only way you feel satisfied is through pizza and sugar, then it will take great work and lots of time. But eventually, through consistency, you can change those tastes and habits. I, for one, hated fruits and vegetables, but now, it’s what I crave. I hated exercise, but now it’s the main component of my daily life. My taste, however, was for the couch, a movie, and a pizza… Not the gym and veggies. In other words, I had to get out of my own way.
My Best Gay Self is a column by author, speaker, fitness coach and LGBTQ addiction and wellness advocate, Mark Turnipseed. He is also the Owner and CEO of Integrity Endurance, a network of personal trainers with the goal of fighting the opioid crisis through fitness. Visit www.markaturnipseed.com to learn more/contact or to find his book "My Suicide Race: Surviving the trauma of addiction, recovery and coming out."