How do you feel about “conventional wisdom?”
If you’re a member of the Paleo/Primal/WAP/Traditional/Real Food/Ancestral Health/Vegan/Vegetarian/Eastern Medicine/Ayurvedic/Functional Medicine/etc etc etc communities, then you probably hear the phrase “conventional wisdom” and immediately sniff in disdain.
Merriam-Webster calls conventional wisdom (n), “the generally accepted belief, opinion, judgment, or prediction about a particular matter,” and in the nutrition, health, and fitness world, we usually think of conventional wisdom with a negative connotation in mind.
For example: beliefs about sugar, cholesterol, calories, cardio, fat-free foods, and more are all part of our understanding of conventional wisdom, and those of us in the various “fringe” health communities are the first ones to reject conventional wisdom as soon as we have the science to prove that it’s wrong.
So why is it, then, that we are still willing to accept the “conventional wisdom” we have about ourselves?
Let me explain:
I noticed a strange phenomenon the other day while hanging out with a close friend of mine who I met before I started my process of recovery.
As you may know by now, the person I have become is not the person who I was at the beginning of the journey. I’ve been working on lessening my anxiety, lowering my stress levels, and focusing on the positive aspects of my life. I practice gratitude. I speak nicely to myself. Etc.
Yet when I was around my friend, I immediately fell back into the same patterns of speech and thought–saying negative things, denying my sense of empowerment and grace, worrying about my body, etc.
This seems to happen when I’m confronted with situations or people from my past with whom I’ve established a sense of conventional wisdom about myself–including my family. It’s easier to fall into the same old “comfortable” patterns of discomfort than it is to break free from “the generally accepted beliefs, opinions, judgments, or predictions” about myself and my relationships.
I encourage all of you out there to take a look at who you are in relation to the people in your life. What conventional wisdom about your life, your body image, your identity, or your relationship do you hold onto or resurrect? What triggers old thought patterns–and how can you break them?
This awareness will be especially important as the holidays rapidly descend upon us. We’re going to not only be confronted by food, exercise, and body image issues, but also the people (friends and family) who may trigger some “conventional wisdom” that we’re working hard to reject or change.
This week on the Finding Our Hunger podcast, we interviewed my friend Susan McCauley, a certified nutrition consultant who specializes in addiction recovery and ancestral health. Her incredible story–and her rejection of the “conventional wisdom” she adopted for herself as an addict–is really instructional in how we can learn to be our own editors and change the paradigm.
Yes, it takes work, and yes, it might be uncomfortable, but I think we can all stand to let go of the conventional wisdom we hold about ourselves, just as we can all stand to let go of the conventional wisdom about what makes up “healthy” diet and exercise (since it’s that conventional wisdom that gets us into our negative behaviors in the first place).
So head over to Finding Our Hunger and hear what Susan has to say–let’s let go of our beliefs, opinions, judgments, or predictions, and get ready for a peaceful, progressive, and happy holiday season!