Over the past several months, I have been sharing excerpts from the memoir that I'm writing, titled Digesting Life. The story of my struggle and recovery from an eating disorder is the basis for what led me to create the KARMA Method, the signature coaching and therapeutic method used by Bespoke Wellness Partners. This blog is related to the Making Meaning step in my KARMA Method, and while this may be a deeper topic than some of you might be ready to explore, I believe that with COVID and the related challenges so many are facing, this is a very timely theme worth exploring.
“So, what do you think about the kibbutz?” my mom asked. “I am not sure,” I said honestly. “It seems like a safe place. I hope that the girls are nice and friendly.”
“I think it will be very good for you as long as you can make the best of it,” she said.
“Mom—” I looked at her, and I couldn’t stop myself. The tears came down so fast.
“Limor, don’t worry. I am sure that everything will turn out great.” Her voice and her comforting words made me cry even harder, but before she could put her arms around me, the bus arrived. I wiped my eyes and tried to think about something happy, so that I wouldn’t embarrass myself in front of the other passengers.
When we sat down, my mom took my hand and said, “Whatever happens and wherever you will be, just remember that all I want is the best for you.” “I know, Mom, but it is so hard,” I cried. “I will only get to see you for two days every three or four weeks! It is not fair. Three weeks is such a long time. What if I need you—what if something very important happens and I don’t feel comfortable discussing it with anybody else? I am going to be very lonely there, I know.”
I placed my head on my mother’s shoulders and cried. She looked at me with mournful eyes, and I felt terrible for making her unhappy. She told me that I could always call if I needed to, but I knew she had too much on her plate and I wouldn't want to bother her…
How many times have you gone through something that was so hard that you couldn't imagine living past that experience and ever being happy again? Whatever it is that you are dealing with, are you able to pick out one challenge that seems to repeat itself in your life? It can be related to your relationships, work, living situations, your body, or anything else that is unique to you. Write this challenge down because later on, I am going to guide you through seeing this as a gift. Just have some faith…
In the following blog, I am going to help you understand how your challenge is important to you, and how by considering your challenge as a gift you will be able to feel so much more empowered. This will prevent you from continuing to repeat the same mistakes that you have been repeating for a long time. I have a challenge in my life that affected me on so many levels, and after years of thinking about it and trying to work through it, I started to work on thinking about it as my gift instead. To be honest, this is still something that I am working on and it is still difficult, but I am going to share it anyway.
As some of you may know, I was forced to leave home at age 12 because my mom couldn't afford to take care of my sisters' and my basic needs, particularly with my abusive father who was in and out of jail. There are clearly many layers to my childhood situation, but for the purposes of this blog, I’ll keep it brief. At age 17, I left to live in Austria for 6 months and after serving in the Israeli army for 2 years, I moved 3,000 miles away from my family once again to live in the U.S. I tried returning to Israel to be closer to my family several times, but somehow all of my attempts failed, and 26 years later, I am still in the U.S. I worked on myself for many years to see this huge challenge as my gift and I was able to do it in a very slow but meaningful way.
Despite having incredible opportunities, being accepted into one of the best colleges, meeting my husband, and raising three girls in the U.S., it took me a long time to see all of these opportunities as my gifts. Here are some steps that I took to help myself and I hope that you can reflect on your challenges and try to use these steps to see them in a new light— as opportunities.
Step 1 - Observe your ego and understand it.
You’ve probably heard about the Ego: It’s your sense of self-esteem and self-importance.
Out of all of the various definitions of ego, the one that stands out best to me is the following by Deepak Chopra: “The Ego is not who you really are. The ego is your self-image; it is your social mask; it is the role you are playing. Your social mask thrives on approval. It wants control, and it is sustained by power, because it lives in fear.”
The most important thing to know about the ego or your ego is that it is necessary and important because it protects you while you try to figure out who you are, and it motivates you to work hard and achieve your goals. Sure, it can also prevent you from achieving your goals and create dysfunction in your life, but for now, let’s just focus on how understanding it can serve you well. Let’s take my example of living far from my family, which contributed to negative feelings like anxiety and fear and also affected my relationships. Instead of investing in relationships and appreciating the people I met, I was occupied with thinking about all of the people I missed and mourning the loss of time with my family back in Israel.
Initially, my “ego” did not admit that I was vulnerable because of my situation, and of course, I couldn't show that I was insecure and weak because that would not be the “right” thing to do. So I pretended to be just fine and controlled the one thing that I could, which was food. Restrict, binge, purge… less challenging than facing my challenges. Does it make sense why my eating disorder protected me for so many years?
Do you want to know whether or not your ego is in charge? Next time you are in a situation where you have the urge to react, take a few seconds to reflect on your reactions. How would your interaction proceed if you reacted in your usual way—without your social mask or your fear taking over?
Step 2: Familiarize yourself with the technique: “The Power of Resistance.”
I spoke with my younger sister, Vered, earlier today and she told me about the KABALA course that she had just completed. She shared a technique with me called "The Power of Resistance," and I think it has a lot of wisdom, so I am sharing it with you. This technique encourages you to resist doing whatever it is that you normally do and act in a totally different manner; resist acting in ways that are familiar to you. As if that is not challenging enough, you have to twist the negative into a positive. How? This technique has four stages.
Stage 1: The first step is to STOP and acknowledge that there IS a challenge. You have to accept that there is something that is bigger than you and that it is a great learning opportunity.
Stage 2: Understand that this challenge is coming from the “light” or from something that is bigger than us. Some consider that to be a higher power, but you don’t have to be religious or spiritual to get something out of this technique. Whatever that source is for you, it doesn't matter. The important thing to remember is that there is an external source, a higher power or source of light that can help you find more meaning in your experiences and help your challenge become an important lesson to you. Now, you will have to work on this a bit to make it a learning experience.
Stage 3: Ask for help. You know that you are struggling and going through a very hard experience. Maybe you are going through a divorce and are having a hard time sharing this with others. It is okay to ask for help, and first, you need to turn inward and acknowledge this need. Say to yourself, “I understand that there is a reason that I have to go through this, but this is still very challenging. While there is an opportunity for me to learn something and become a better version of myself and even a way to see this as a gift, I need some guidance and support…”
Stage 4: Act. At this step, you will take action. For example, pretend you had an argument with someone. First, you will pause and think (Stage 1), remind yourself that this is an opportunity from the “light” to practice this technique of “Power of Resistance” (Stage 2), then ask for help in your own heart (“I understand that this is a challenge but I need guidance…”) (Stage 3). At this stage, you change your pattern of behavior and act from your newfound awareness—with help.
The most important takeaway from this technique is that it allows you to live a life from a place of awareness, where your experiences will turn into a more meaningful kind of living—one in which your challenges are being viewed as opportunities instead of experiences that crush you.
Step 3: Set your expectations and enjoy the process.
This can also be the first step—the order doesn’t matter—but whatever you choose, be realistic about your expectations and do your best to try to enjoy the process and allow yourself the time to feel and experience whatever it is you need to. Don't necessarily expect that following these steps will immediately reshape your challenges into positive gifts in your life, but it will happen over time and it is a process. You have to dedicate yourself to these steps and to reforming your outlook on these challenges in order to truly see change.
In my experience, the process was painful and extremely challenging. I spent many months and years crying about what happened to me, but I reminded myself that these very sad and traumatic experiences also helped to shape me. They also allowed me to enjoy my work with people and help guide them into a life that is happier and more meaningful. Deciding that I would work through these challenges never meant it would be easy, but it was a process that I worked through and came out of stronger.
Finally, remember that changing requires lots of time, love, and nurturing. If you want to explore Making Meaning of your challenges further, you can always reach out.
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With lots of love,
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