*Originally published 10/16/2014
If you’ve ever made pizza from scratch, you know that the dough has a certain elasticity to it. In order to get it from a ball of dough into a pizza crust you have to stretch it out quite a bit. When you stretch it, because of said elasticity, the dough springs back. So you have to stretch it out to a bigger size than you want it to become, because it will spring back to a smaller size (although this can vary depending on the temperature of the dough, and how big you stretch it, but for the sake of the story I won’t get into that). Stretching the pizza dough just a little bit will result in pizza dough that is bigger than it originally started out as, but still not the size you are trying to achieve. In order to really get it to the size of a pizza you have to keep stretching and keep stretching further and bigger until you stretch it out enough for it to bounce back to the size you want.
Do you see where I’m going with this? Life.
Progress and growth can be a lot like that pizza dough. What I’m talking about is what Sigmund Frued defined as one of the ten defense mechanisms we use to “provide a refuge from a situation with which one cannot currently cope.” Regression.
Regression occurs (in adults and children) when a new mode of being is currently “unacceptable” on some level, and one falls back to an earlier stage of development seen as “less demanding and safer.”
For children, this might mean wetting the bed even though the child has far outgrown that stage of development. But for adults this can show up in many ways. We can see/experience it when we make major changes in our lives. Like let’s say we’re trying to lose weight. After the initial challenges, we find ourselves on quite a roll, gaining good momentum with this new lifestyle and habits, loving the way we look and feel. But once we reach a stride, we might find ourselves reaching for the chocolate cake, even though we know it’s not really what we want. Even though it might even make us sick and set us back on all the progress we’ve been making.
This has been happening to me lately. I’ve found myself in quite the strange regression (that’d be a great name for a song!). I haven’t been trying to lose weight (although I might need to soon because I have certainly been reaching for chocolate cake). What I have been doing is making all kinds of huge leaps forward over the past few months, moving through life-long fears, and diving into the uncertainty which usually causes me immense anxiety. Because of that, my life has been progressing at rapid speeds. And it’s been amazing!
I’ve experienced my fears dissipating, and my anxieties have settled. I tapped into a wonderful energy that, instead of catapulting me into high states of being, from which I eventually come down from, have just continually projected me forward, with my feet on the ground and a marvelous sense of self-assuredness. And that assuredness has moved beyond just the self (which is incredibly important), and has turned into a great trust, in all that is and all that will be.
Then the regression hit. Actually, it’s more like it slowly crept in the back door when I was sleeping and I didn’t notice it was there, or rather, pretended not to notice it there, until I found that it had tied me up and… stuffed my face full of chocolate cake.
I love health. Physical, emotional, spiritual, thriving-life-health. Health comes from an Old English word meaning “wholeness, or being whole.” I devote my life to this.
But lately, as I hit a lovely stride with all of the immense progress I’ve been making, I have found myself in some of the unhealthiest physical habits I have had in a really long time. Eating terribly, not getting any exercise, forgetting to take my vitamins (which I thrive on) and even my morning stretches, which have always been the bare minimum of my health habits, have been totally half-assed.
It hit me hard today, and I realize- it’s time. I’ve had a lovely little trip down junk-food-couch-potato lane, but it’s time to get back on the right track.
The good thing is, like the pizza dough, even though I’ve regressed, I’m still stretched so far beyond where I began. I just need to keep stretching and keep expanding into Who I Want To Be.
And maybe next time I’ll choose a metaphor that doesn’t involve pizza.