When Is Enough Enough?

photo by Will Johnson

I have my first wellness workshop coming up this week and I finally decided what topic to discuss — food.

More specifically, I want to address many of the disordered relationships with food, my own included, and why we need to learn to embrace the gray and not neatly place foods in certain “bad” or “good” categories. We all know how I feel about labeling.

I’m still working on the points I want to emphasize and crossing my fingers that people will join in the discussion so I’m not left rambling about donuts or puppies for 45 minutes, but in thinking about it I realized every significant change in my life has come from one place — I’d had enough.

Whether my enough was losing everything I had or just realizing I lacked the mental energy to dedicate to how many grams of sugar a square of chocolate had, I always reached a point where I was done with whatever was making my life unmanageable.

It doesn’t have to be as giant as addiction. Even small habit changes have been made by mentally exhausting myself. I was tired of the way I made myself feel whenever I procrastinated. I told myself that everyone else gets things done early and that I was a failure for waiting until the deadline. The truth is, I always get things done and I work most efficiently when I have limited time. I had enough with trying to force myself to operate a way I wasn’t designed to operate.

Behavioral changes are tough because they’re a very individual thing. This is why you can’t force an alcoholic to stop drinking and why losing weight can be particularly hard for some people. Often these types of changes require taking the time to stop and look — really look — at yourself as a person. How you’re living. How you’re feeling.

This type of introspection can be difficult and not everyone is ready to admit that a change needs to be made. Maybe you know it does but the thought of making it is too hard so you stay comfortable where you are, continuing whatever behavior you want to change.

photo by Will Johnson

My struggle with reaching out and helping others is that there isn’t always a quantifiable way to know if you’ve actually helped. Before I was ready to turn things around, I dismissed every suggestion and opinion that came my way. Even if I had wanted to hear, I couldn’t listen.

Despite every shred of self-doubt that I experience before writing or speaking about my experience, I know that the only thing I can do is just that — share. I can talk about what worked for me and continue to live my life in a way that reflects the changes I’ve made and continue to make. Hopefully someone can take something away from that, but in reality the power lies with you.

In order to live your best life, my suggestion is to figure out what that means for you. Not what social media tells you it is or what your girlfriends are doing, but what feels right for you.

To do that, you’re going to have to spend some time with yourself.

Think about what you want. What you need. What makes you happy. What makes you sad. You may have never done this before, and I didn’t until I was 27 years old.

It takes time and it takes some fine-tuning, but finding what you will and won’t tolerate makes it easier for you to figure out where your enough is. I had literally no concept of my own identity as a person for most of my 20s, which is what allowed me to put up with so much, treat myself the way that I did, and allow others to treat me the way that they did.

The more you know and love yourself, the lower your threshold for discomfort. The more you respect yourself, the less likely you are to continue behaviors that cause you harm.

I’m not saying that you’ll live life perfectly in an abundance of happiness, but you’ll be better equipped to understand what behaviors are destructive and what you need to do to change them. You’ll be less likely to berate yourself for eating dessert or skipping a workout.

Bigger picture, you’ll understand that there’s only one life and you’re in control of how you live it.

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7 Comments

  1. I love your writing about eating and food. It really hits home so well. I’m glad I know that you didn’t learn until 27 – because I’m 23 and still confused about my attitude towards food. It’s great to know that someone has been through the same and has made great progress. Thank you for offering your words of wisdom!

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  2. June 26, 2017 / 6:35 am

    “but finding what you will and won’t tolerate makes it easier for you to figure out where your enough is” THIS. Beautifully written. These are exactly the thought I need to think about this week. Thank you for putting it into words.

  3. Tammi
    June 26, 2017 / 7:12 am

    Erin this is a great post. It’s so true. I see this on a daily basis with my clients. So many say they want to change but when it comes to the work it takes to do it, it’s another story. And not just with my clients some friends too. hey look at me and ask what have you done and I tell them of the changes. They first thing I hear I hear is “It’s hard”. To which I say, I respond, I didnt say it wasn’t easy but it was necessary. I tell my clients the same thing. Is the change necessary? You will never hear me say it’s easy. So the question does become when is enough, enough. I have to remember Step One, I’m powerless over whether or not someone changes, I can only provide the information. They can choose to use it or not.
    You’re also right about life in your 20’s, it’s all about self-discovery. I say we play adult in our 20’s and we actually become adult in our 30’s.
    Great post Erin, great post.

  4. June 26, 2017 / 8:25 am

    I’ve made so many changes in my life the last 3 years. A lot of it involved stepping out of my comfort zone, but I finally had had enough and I am thankful that I did step out of my comfort zone as it helped me grow. It’s true though that you can’t change people, the person has to want to change AND put in the work. I find this with my mom as she sees things I have done and wants to make changes but she is still looking for that magic button to push and avoid the hard work. There is no magic button, it takes work and when a person is ready to change, I believe they will put in that work.
    Also good luck with your first workshop. Wish I was local to attend.
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  5. June 26, 2017 / 9:42 am

    I am so thankful that you are going to open up more and share at that event. Your blog has been such a vessel for healing and talking about the way you’ve healed Erin, and I agree that it does take so much introspection and tough introspection to see where you need to change. I’m grateful that Jesus is changing me day by day, because there are so many areas in which I need to change.
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