I was on my way back from a ride (cycling) yesterday and stopped at an ocean overlook. In front of me was a wooden fence with a thick, not-yet tarnished by the saltwater, chains. In the midst of the beauty of the Pacific Ocean, these chains stuck out to me. I sat down at the bench and stared at these chains with the waves curling in the background.
How many times do chains hold you and I back? Answer: more than we know. Chains of guilt, shame, regret, hurt, depression, excuses, abuse. Chains are heavy. Draining. Chains cause negative health issues. Chains can ruin relationships. Chains cause destructive behavior. Chains are deadly.
For many people, chains from their childhood carry into adulthood and result in obesity- which has a domino effect with other health diseases. Chains hold people back and keep them stuck in living the same way they always have. Freedom from the demons that haunt you seems like a dream and living in peace is a faraway land.
So how do you get rid of the chains that keep you stuck and unwell? Here are four ways to ditch the chains that weigh you down (no pun intended).
1) Write it out. Putting words down on a piece of paper is very therapeutic. Find a quiet spot and grab a notebook and just start writing. Or your laptop and start typing! Write your story. The words on the piece of paper don’t have to make sense, just get your story out. Be prepared for some tears but also a sense of relief and peace. This process may take a few hours or a few months. In fact, get in the habit of writing daily. Ask yourself the hard questions. What do you believe about yourself? Why? Who in your life told you or implied that you weren’t good enough and food became your source of comfort? Excess weight (and for that matter, lack of weight) is usually a cry for help. We are carrying around chains of lies, hurts and shame. These heavy chains are weighing you down by friend! They aren’t serving you in healthy ways. Begin to write your story down today.
2) Acknowledge your past (and present). A lot of us like to live in denial or “ignorance is bliss” mode. But this is doing you no good! Continuing to live life with excuses is damaging your health. How can you achieve your goals with denial? You can’t! Sure, you might be able to skate by in life for a few years but sooner than later they will catch up with you. From diabetes to stroke to heart attacks, “ignorance is bliss” will have major consequences on you and those around you. Treating the symptom of the disease or illness doesn’t address the underlying issue of the problem. A pill might keep the symptoms at bay for a short time, but it’s a ticking time bomb. When you acknowledge the source of your problems it’s then that can you break the chains that bind you.
3) Smash those chains! Acknowledgment is great, but if you stop there, it’s like a train sitting on the tracks with the destination in sight but never arriving. Make a plan of attack to break the chains that hold you down. Therapy with a qualified counselor, support groups, changing who you hang out with, build a support network of compassionate and understanding friends, listen to positive music and a faith community that gives graces and love freely are all ways to help smash those chains. Giving yourself grace as you walk through the process of dealing with your chains is also extremely important! You’ll discover new things all the time and make connections and personal insights that will help you to live in freedom for a long time to come.
4) Heal your wounds. Healing is one step of the journey to freedom. And healing usually begins with forgiveness. I hesitate to use this word because those of us that have been horribly abused (myself included) can view forgiveness as letting the other person off the hook. But from personal experience I can tell you that is not what is forgiveness is about! Forgiving those who have hurt you actually gives you freedom to live life wholly! Healing and forgiveness is a lifelong process but with time, healing from your past and what’s been done to you does get easier over the course of your life. One of the best things you can do is to see a qualified therapist. Stable, emotional health is paramount to a good, healthy life. Many times we overlook emotional health for workouts and neglect the mental health. Healing the mind can heal the body. Invite a trusted professional or spiritual mentor into your life journey of healing as you begin to process the things that keep you a slave to your chains. Forgiving and healing go hand-in-hand. Sometimes it’s forgiving others, other times it’s forgiving yourself.
Also, please note that when you are healing from wounds (emotional or physical), your body needs more nutritious food than ever. Wellness is a combination of your body, mind and spirit. Eating a processed, junk “food”, sugar-laden, caffeine-overload diet will make healing from life’s wounds very difficult. Make sure you are eating for health to support your body’s nutritional needs. (If you need help, just let me know!)
Getting Personal. I’ve had my fair share of chains in my life. Chains of guilt, unworthiness, doubt, and never good enough. All of these stemmed from the lies told to me during my childhood/teen years from my parents- the two people that are supposed to love and care for you. More of this will be shared in my book (April 2014) but I just wanted to let you know that I too continue to walk in a journey of freedom and grace.
What are some of your chains that are holding you back? How will you break free from them? Release those chains my friends and live free!