Think about Elephants

In response to my article about the abandonment of self, one reader left a beautiful comment:

I'm still in that desperate place. I try to give the book a rest, but it will not let me go. Sigh.
--Victoria Dixon

Those words are very haunting. "...that desperate place." I am very familiar with that place; it has gripped me many times. When I thought I was free of it, it'd snag my ankle. I'd shake it loose, and it would grab my arm.

And yet I know that the road of desperation always leads to destruction and despair. People who are so desperate to lose weight push their bodies past their limitations and then overindulge. People who are desperate to make money jump into one get-rich-quick scheme after another until their dreams burn up around them. People who are desperate to find romance scare off every possible love interest before they even get a chance to know them.

Or for another example, a friend of mine wanted children so badly that she and her husband tried every fertility treatment the doctor could offer, to no avail. The doctor finally said, "Stop trying, just relax, take care of yourself, and let's see what happens." So she joined my dance class and went from a size sixteen to a size four over the course of a year. She looked beautiful, and it showed.

One day, I asked her if she had danced for her husband. She got an embarrassed look on her face. "No," she said, "I'm afraid he'll laugh at me." I think my eyes just about bugged out. To even consider that anyone would laugh at her! Her dancing was mesmerizing! So I gave her my music and told her that was her homework assignment. Shortly after that, she didn't show up very often or sent me notes of being too tired. She was pregnant and didn't even know it. Three months later, she had a beautiful announcement to make, and I was overjoyed to find out that she was pregnant with their first child.

There is only one trick I know to fight desperation, and that is change of focus. If someone says, "Don't think about monkeys." Your mind will be filled with monkeys. How cute they are. How silly. How energetic. But if someone says, "Don't think about monkeys; think about elephants." You have something else to focus on.

So when you diet, don't think about the brownies you can't have. Think about what you can have: fresh strawberries over frozen yogurt drizzled with a bit of chocolate. Mmmmmm. Think about savoring each bite slowly as the flavors melt in your mouth.

And rather than thinking about your desperate desire to publish your book, instead think about loving life. Think about long walks in this wonderful autumn weather. Think about playing with your children. Think about dancing in your living room to your favorite music. Think about learning a new craft. Think about good books and movies. Write some poetry. Learn to love your creation for its own sake rather than a means to an end.

And oh yeah, make up a word and write a sentence / paragraph using that word and enter it in my contest. Then laugh with me over the wonderful entries people will come up with. For laughter is our best medicine.

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