This Moment Does Not Define You

Posted on 23 June 2011

“Things and conditions can give you pleasure but they cannot give you joy—joy arises from within.” ~Eckhart Tolle

I struggled with anorexia for four years before I went to rehab. Rehab saved my life, and although I am not “completely recovered,” I am in recovery. I am coping. I am living again.

One of the biggest sources of fuel for my eating disorder was my hyper-focus on the physical and transitory aspects of life.

In my mind, I over-emphasized the importance of my body. I put the appearance of my body, and how I felt about my body, above my true, underlying nature.

I would treat fleeting thoughts, feelings, and emotions as crucial, life-and-death matters.

I did not realize or appreciate my crucial and enduring self, which (I now understand) transcends the fleeting states of the corporal realm.

During this time, surface feelings took on a villainous and critical role. I know this sounds melodramatic and unrealistic (because it is), but “feeling bloated” literally felt like the death of me. I could not separate my true self from my passing thoughts and feelings.

A huge part of my recovery and self-discovery has been my ability to separate my identity and the surface mental sewage that blocks my view of reality.

I realized that I am not my body – kind of weird, but cool and life-changing. I am much more than just my physical form.

I’m not saying that I’m really some waif-like spirit, floating on the whimsical current of an indefinable world (that would be cool though).

What I’m saying is that my physical self—my body, my fleeting feelings and thoughts—do not define me.

I am not just me sitting here typing this blog post. I am not me who ate apples with a whole lot of peanut butter for breakfast. I am not me who will take a sip of black iced coffee in about three seconds.

I am a conglomeration, a whole melting pot of things and thoughts and feelings and actions and ideas and emotions. I am now and then and I am more to come.

I am so much more than what you see and how I feel right now.

If you accept and embrace this way of thinking—this “I extend past the fleeting, corporal now“—it makes it so much easier to accept yourself. If you make a mistake, you can just brush it off and move on.

You might have made that mistake, but that mistake does not make you.

I am not dismissing how you feel and what you think in the present moment. Being present and aware of your thoughts and feelings is crucial for happiness, as well.

But your whole world expands when you stop confining yourself to these drifting, passing mental mutterings. They come and go, and they may help to form who you are, but they are not what you are or all that you have to offer. Not in the least.

So the next time you feel like crap—whether you feel bloated or embarrassed or hung over or ashamed—just remember, what you feel right now is not the whole you. What people see right now is not the whole you. This moment will only define and defeat you if you let it.

Photo by Eddi van W

About Lisa Stefany

Lisa Stefany is a proud graduate of Penn State University. She majored in English and minored in finding herself, literally. She makes it a point to vivify her mind daily with wine, yoga, and quantum mechanics. And when those activities aren’t sufficient, splatter paint fills the void.

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