This very day, two individuals are vying to be your personal adviser. The first, whose name is Fang, dresses in immaculate business attire, carries a briefcase full of neatly organized folders, and answers all e-mails instantly, via BlackBerry. In a loud, clear, authoritative voice, Fang delivers strong opinions about how you should manage your time. Fang's résumé is impressive: fantastic education, experience to burn.Beck goes on to explain that FANG represents one's social conscious and echoes the voices of those around us. I call my own FANG my "should". As in, "I should work out every day," "I should get up early and be productive, even on my day off" or "I should go out to lunch with this person even though he/she is an energy drain." FANG could also be my eating disorder mindset. (A quick background: I had long suffered from the starvation/binge eating cycle, my weight fluctuating from 104-130 until in 2009 I wizened up, sought therapy with an eating disorder specialist and have embraced intuitive eating. Since then my weight has settled in at a very happy 120. Moving on.) My FANG often says stuff like, "If you don't hate your body or are constantly working to change it you are slowly turning into a 1,000 pound marshmallow." FANG has also been known to talk me into new and ridiculously challenging work out programs, especially when I'm changing jobs or relationships. FANG tends to tell me I should eat a 100% vegan/vegetarian/Paleo/South Beach/Weight Watchers diet or I'm definitely not healthy/beautiful/thin/attractive. You get the idea. FANG, while the seemingly perfect voice of reason, the compliment of my already Type A personality can get ugly.
The other candidate, Buddy, wears shorts, a tank top, and a rose tattoo. If you question the professionalism of this attire, Buddy just smiles. When you ask advice on a pressing matter, Buddy hugs you. There are almost no words on Buddy's résumé (the few that do appear are jokes and song lyrics), and in the margins, Buddy has doodled pictures of chipmunks.
Who will you hire to advise you?
And then there's my Buddy. My Buddy is my 4-yr-old self, the wild, curly haired and little pink glasses wearing me. The girl who loves animals and art and could sit for hours coloring without fear of being unproductive. My 4-yr-old self also offers advice as to what I should eat. She tells me to be curious about my food. To examine each bite for it's texture and flavor and to decide whether or not I really love something before eating more of it. Four year old Laura is excited about seasons and the different foods they bring. She is more excited about how her body feels than how it looks, about what her body can do than how others respond to it.
Beck's article talks about discerning between FANG and Buddy. She writes that Buddy doesn't speak in words, but that his/her true wisdom is sensory. Whereas FANG has A LOT to say about a myriad of subjects (Can't you hear her when you look in the mirror? Or when you compare yourself to other people?), Buddy communicates through feelings of peace and moments of calm.
Beck advises us to feel our decisions, rather than waiting for a loud, verbal answer. I've found that the right decision is always a feeling, one of pleasant submission, of either saying, "Okay, I give up. Let's try a new route" or "I don't need to try anymore, I've done everything I need to do."
The other day I found a letter that I'd written in January 2010, and it perfectly describes this feeling of letting go and saying yes to the Buddy way of things. For months I was hemming and hawing over the difficult decision to end a relationship. All signs were pointing to a breakup: sleepless nights, ulcer like stomach aches and an awful feeling of "this is not right". The letter reads:
GOD:I hereby surrender myself to you. I'm tired of fighting your will - only to feel completely anxious with no peace. I know that there were a LOT of stubborn characters in the Bible, and look what happened to them. I don't want to turn into a pillar of salt. And I don't want to be swallowed up by a whale (as big as this anxious feeling). If this anxious feeling isn't a burning bush, I'm not sure how else you'll ever get through to me. So here goes: I GIVE UP. I SURRENDER. I'm renewing my commitment to YOU and to MYSELF. You are my God. Yoke me to you and to all the good, loving, encouraging people in this world. I have no idea where you'll lead me, but I do know this: I'm willing to go.Always faithful,Laura
The thing about giving in, about accepting the wisdom of your soul, is that once you do, everything falls into place. FANG settles down until the next big scuffle, and you're finally able to catch a glimpse of your 4-yr-old self, or rather, your best future self. xoxo.