Have you heard the Aesop’s fable about the dog and his shadow? In the story, a hungry dog manages to get a morsel of meat. Thrilled with his acquisition, the dog decides to take it back to his den where he can devour it in peace.
As he hurries home, the dog dashes across a plank lying over a brook, but as he’s moving across, he sees his shadow reflected in the water.
Unfortunately, he mistakes his shadow for another mutt carrying more meat. He wants that other dog’s meat! After all, he reasons, if some is good, more will be better.
He snaps at the water and in doing so, drops the meat from his mouth. His coveted meal sinks into the water, never to be seen again.
The moral of this fable is, beware that you don’t lose your true desire by grasping at its shadow.
Are You Grasping at Shadows?
Have you noticed that most of us who have had weight loss surgery select a goal weight? Maybe it’s the weight we were in college, or when we got married, or the amount our surgeon says we should weigh.
No matter how that number gets into our heads, we decide we won’t be happy, can’t be happy, until we reach that number.
In the early days after the surgery, most of us are losing weight and we’re thrilled. We are moving toward our goal of reaching a certain weight (or a certain pants size). And we believe that happiness is within reach.
One woman I spoke with said, “When I had the surgery, I felt hope for the first time in many, many years.”
But the hope can fade and things can get confusing. As our weight loss slows down, many of us see our health issues resolved, and yet we are dissatisfied, and even ashamed, because we are not at “goal.”
So, instead of enjoying the good health, the mobility, and the opportunity to be fully physically engaged in life, we beat ourselves up and continue to grasp at our goal weight.
I invite you to consider this: Sometimes our true desires do not reside on the scale (despite what we tell ourselves) – sometimes our goal weight is a shadow. It looks like the happiness we desire, but when we reach for it we can lose our balance and fall.
Will You Claim Your True Desire?
If I’m being honest, I really don’t care what the scale says. What I truly desire are health, vitality, love, acceptance, confidence, compassion, joy, fortitude, laughter, forgiveness, empowerment, peace ….
I could go on, but you probably get my point.
Out in nature, there are no scales on which to weigh ourselves. We were not designed to be happy only if we weigh 150 pounds, or whatever our “shadow number” is.
There are ways to achieve our deeper desires regardless of what the scale says.
The Worst Mistake Is Linking Your Happiness (and Self Worth) to Your Weight
I know; this is WLS heresy. At support groups people celebrate weight loss and feel ashamed when it doesn’t happen. We envy those who reach goal and feel less worthy of love and respect when we don’t. We grasp at the shadow of success and don’t realize we hold it in our hands.
Self-worth and happiness are choices we make. They happen when we focus on things other than our shadows – other than our weight, our saddle bags, or our loose skin. They happen when we become fully engaged in life and when we accept that our human imperfections are what make us interesting, approachable and, well, human.
We are not the worst or the best. We are not our weight. We are worthy as we are. We can find self-worth and happiness one moment at a time, if we will only see that it’s already in our grasp.
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From Katie Jay’s Small Bites newsletter. Subscribe and get your complimentary report: The 21 Most Common Mistakes People Make after Bariatric Surgery at www.BariSupport.com. © 2022, Katie Jay. All rights reserved.