Real Food Whole Life

On Leaving Shame & Leaning Into Joy

LifestyleRobyn Downs6 Comments

The Living Within series is about moving away from extremes toward eating and living from and for a place of joy.

Today I want to talk about shame. Which, my husband has pointed out, is a little heavy for a food and lifestyle blog.

He’s right, of course. It is heavy.

But I’m writing this series because I’m on a journey to live within the extremes, where eating isn’t all or nothing. A place where I can get a handle on those hazy, nebulous concepts of portion control and emotional eating.

So, heavy? Yes. But also relevant.

Because it’s not just about what we eat, which is important for sure, but is also overemphasized at the cost of this alternate conversation. It’s also about how we eat, and our overall relationship with food and eating.

Which brings me back to shame. And one simply cannot discuss the topic of shame without first referencing Dr. Brené Brown, whose research has shaped a global conversation on the issue. You may have heard of Brené’s work: her TED talks on vulnerability and shame have been viewed over 24 million and 6 million times, respectively, at the time of this writing.

Her book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead, is a constant on my nightstand, and I’ve watched her talks at least a dozen times. Each time I read her books or watch her speak I take away a new idea or “aha” on living, as she says, wholeheartedly.

Photo by KLiK Concepts

Photo by KLiK Concepts

One of those “ahas” is that courage to be vulnerable can transform the way we eat. That digging in and having this conversation might be exactly the place to start breaking away from extremes and beginning the journey of living within.

In this post I talked about how the thoughts we think, matter. Have you taken time to reflect on your own food- and eating-related thoughts? Once I started paying attention to mine, I was rather surprised to notice how many of them were shame-based.

Thoughts about not doing it right and not being good enough. Basically about trying to do it all and doing it perfectly. [The “it” here for me is both proverbial (motherhood, being a grownup in general) and the specific (eating the right foods, in the right amounts, at the right times, etc.)]

When I started noticing my thoughts, I was rather surprised about how much shame talk I have going on in my own head related to food. Which is disconcerting. But also really energizing.

Because it’s something that can be learned. And then it can be changed.

By working towards a life lived within I believe we can shift away shame-based thoughts toward something else entirely.  

Toward empathy.

And self-compassion.

And letting go of perfectionism and having the courage to get comfortable with being imperfect.

And learning to connect mind to body as well as body to mind.

By practicing generosity.

By letting go of the “never enough” mindset.

By practicing gratitude.

And by leaning into the joy.

I should throw in a caveat here that I am decidedly not from the school of touchy-feely, woo-woo, unicorn magic. I’m a pragmatist and a realist. So this whole publicly writing about eating shame and leaning into joy thing stresses me out so much it’s all I can do not to crawl under my desk with a giant plate of fettuccine Alfredo and never come back out.

I will, however, resist. Because since I started thinking about extremes and living within I believe there is no better place to start than right here.

With empathy, self-compassion, connecting body and mind, and with getting comfortable with the imperfect. With letting go of the scarcity mindset, of practicing generosity and gratitude, and flat out leaning into joy.

In future posts I want to explore specifically how this looks, to dive deeper into how to learn to make this change. As always, I love hearing from you through comments here, or via email, Facebook and Instagram. Knowing your perspective helps so much in moving this series forward.

Until next time.



Read the Living Within series from the beginning:

Part I, II, and III

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