#12: Moderation

Happy July!

Today, let's look at moderation.  This is such an interesting concept to me, as I most-assuredly did not always have it!  I have spent the better part of the last 25 years finding it, and the closer I got, the further away everyone else seemed to be from it.  Weird! 

Okay, where to begin?  I suppose the easiest way to begin this conversation is by discussing moderation in terms of personality, since who you are will ultimately determine the decisions you make (whether about food, exercise, relationships, work, spirituality, etc.) and the path you take.  I would like to preface with this:  every personality, every person... has amazing gifts and qualities to share.  We simply need to nourish our finer points, and get a handle on our struggles.

Well, without diving too far into the background, suffice it to say that I have encountered my fair share of extremes in life.  I was seeing a nutritionist at the age of 14, and she very lovingly (as was her way) said to me, "Your middle name should be all-or-nothing."  This was in reference to my reaction when she told me I needed to start adding an orange per day to my diet.  That's a story for another time.  In any case, she nailed it.  For me, everything was either ridiculously structured... or downright terrifying.

I am a proud Type A... we are assertive, and we get things done.  It has to be neat, organized, methodical, sensible, useful, and YOU CANNOT VEER FROM THE PATH!  It also happens to be exhausting... and potentially hazardous to your health.  No joke.  Think about the ramifications of living this way fully, ALL OF THE TIME.  You go a little crazy.  Some people go a lot crazy.  At the very least, you have some form of anxiety, stress, fear, a boiling point.  Check out the opposite end of the spectrum though, your classic Type B:  quiet, people-pleasing, and passive.  Often playing the martyr, rarely expressing thoughts or feelings, pretending everything is fine... that's not so good for you either.  You might tend toward depression, loneliness, self-inflicted oppression, lack of follow-through.  Now add those folks with a Type A/B personality (I don't know if this is a real thing, I just made it up!).  This is how I refer to the - in my opinion - most dangerous personality type for health.  These are the souls who are true Type As, but present themselves as Type Bs, basically telling THEMSELVES that they are not allowed to be who they are.  Yikes!  You have things you want to say and ways you want to do things (Type A), but you never let yourself be heard (Type B).  You might tend toward having a lot of stress, but putting on a brave face, letting that stress fester inside.  Well, that's not good!  What happens to a physical body that has festering stress?  Hmmm... I wonder.  I will mention that I came up with the idea of the A/B type while working in the ER.  Let's just say that almost everyone I encountered with this personality had one of two underlying disease processes in common.  It proved to be a very interesting correlation.

I think I was a born Type A, dove into the A/B for a while, and have come back strong as a HEALTHY TYPE A!  YES, HEALTHY!  Above, I have highlighted a few extreme concepts/stereotypes to get you to notice how each one - in its own unbridled way - can lead to various manifestations of stress... possibly contributing to such avoidable disasters as anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, cancer, heart disease, poor relationships, etc.  Stress really takes a toll on the human body and mind, and it is implicated in a number of chronic diseases.  You see though, I said "unbridled."  So, tame your beast!  Step back and look at where you may be a little too "all-or-nothing" and make small adjustments.  Every bit counts.

So, where is the balance we seek?  Here's the catch:  it's different for everyone.  You have to find your own moderation.  You'll know it when you do.  It will feel calm and freeing, and you will want more of it.  I'll tell you though - it is a practice.  You don't just find it and then you're golden.  Life is tough; it will throw you curve balls.  Prepare yourself for them by tapping into your innate strengths, finding your moderation, and experiencing your joy.

A few thoughts to leave you with:  yes, of course we want to find balance in ourselves, but also be wary of external extremes.  Examples:  a diet that says "eat ONLY this, ALL the time!" or an exercise program that says "do X, Y, and Z EVERYDAY for the REST of your life."  Think of it like this:  remember standardized testing?  The best way to weed out the wrong answer is by avoiding the choices with words such as "all," "never," "none," "every," "only," "always," etc.  Apply that to life, it might help ;)

A final thought, a reiteration from above:  We simply need to nourish our finer points, and get a handle on our struggles.

Now, this literally just brushes the surface of the ever-elusive moderation.  If you want to dive a bit deeper, check out my Programs page and see if something suits you!  Otherwise, stay tuned, and I will be back next Sunday for more fun!

Until then, be well and be good!