A meme I saw on Facebook depicted two people sitting in a train car. One stared blankly out the window at the rocky side of a mountain; the other smiled out at a bright, sunny landscape. It read “Every day we have a choice.”
The power of positive thinking. Being optimistic. Do we really always have a choice? Is everything in life about motivation, inspiration, and “setting your mind to it”? People who deal with depression would say no. They might make every effort possible with prescription medication, counseling, and maintaining a healthy diet and exercise; they may have supportive family and friends, a good career, they even try to maintain a positive attitude about being well. It doesn’t always work. Depression can be very resistant to treatment. Sometimes it takes persistence until the right combination of strategies can be found and even then they have to be carefully maintained.
So, no. We don’t always have a choice for everything in our lives or at least not an easy one. A friend recently made a comment that I think can be applied to many aspects of life, “I wish there was better understanding from those who are ‘normal’ for those who are not.” We’ve all heard of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes but we don’t always apply it. There’s really never a reason to assume that everyone’s experience of life and even how they live in their body and mind are the same as ours. When it comes to weight loss motivation and the assumption that we can all control our weight by simply “putting our minds to it,” it’s widely-accepted that this should apply equally to everyone.
I can take a powerful lesson from my own seemingly dichotomous existence. I can’t tell you why sometimes I feel consumed by certain food cravings. I can’t explain why the thought of eating a particular food will get stuck in my brain and torment me. BUT. I don’t drink at all. Not even a sip of a social drink. I have never had any interest in alcohol. Not the hippest craft beer, not the finest wine, not the most sophisticated cocktail, not the sweetest fruity drink. I do not care if I am the only person not drinking at some event. I don’t associate drinking with celebrating. I have never been buzzed let alone drunk. I’ve had people try to trick me into drinking and it does not work.
I can’t tell you why. Never in my life have I made a conscious choice not to drink.
Millions of people struggle with alcoholism. Many question their choices about what they consider social drinking. Alcohol can consume lives and yet it isn’t so much as a blip on my radar. Do I have any business telling someone “Just don’t drink.”? Should I remind them of how long-term alcohol abuse can damage their liver and how being impaired affects their judgment? They know all that. They know what they’re dealing with. But most importantly I must accept that I cannot experience what they are experiencing.
I try very hard to tune in closely to what’s happening in my body and mind when I have no sense of appetite and no thoughts of food versus when I feel myself becoming overwhelmed with distracting thoughts and cravings for food. I have found that I can do little to control what my brain decides to start thinking about and the only strategy is to attempt to distract myself with an activity that will engage my thoughts intensely.
What is the “reason” why I have no thoughts about drinking? It is the same “reason” why I can have obsessive thoughts about food.
It’s the natural way my brain works.