Lessons From A Chip Bag

by helen on March 31, 2012

As my fingers scrabbled at the bottom of the bag to collect the crumbs in my hot little hands, I realized I’d consumed a family size bag of chips at one sitting.

Who Did That?

I looked accusingly around the room.  Surely someone else had eaten some.

I already knew that I was alone in my office and this was not the case.  Interesting how blame became an easy first option for dealing with the empty chip bag.

Sitting there, with the sparkly salt crystals and translucent potato crumbs decorating my mouth and a minor snow fall adorning the continental shelf of my chest, greasy fingers twitching, a sickly feeling in my stomach, the first washes of mean thoughts and less than pleasant emotions started to wash over me….

Here Comes the Meanness…

Sometimes, it’s just one word, spat internally with venom:



And other times their in full sentences, taking my breath away with their cruel tone:

“Call yourself a wellness strategist???  What the heck was well about an entire bag of chips?!”

“You should be better than this – you know better than this – what the bleep were you thinking?!”

“How can you teach this if you’re not ‘living it to give it’?!”

Feelings, nothing more than feelings…

Then the wash of emotions – guilt, shame, disappointment, frustration.

And then a smile.

Yes, a smile.

As I saw all the old patterns, deeply ingrained in the matter of my brain, firing – as if to help me – but doing harm along the way.

In years gone past, perhaps the chips would have been the first item on the list, and fueled by my less than helpful thoughts and challenging emotions, I would have inhaled many more items before my body was screaming stop and the day was done.

In my dieting days, tomorrow was always a new day.  Fresh and clean with glittery promise.  Mess-ups in the current day could escalate to ridiculous proportions, always with a fresh start planned just around the clock.

Not any more.

As I sat at my desk smiling, I noticed the chip bag was ironically labelled ‘reduced guilt’ chips, and as if on cue, I could laugh.  I could look at the consumption as a scientist looks at an experiment.

Lab Coat On

Pulling on my metaphorical white lab coat, pencils, pens and shiny spatulas protruding from the pocket, donning my safety goggles, pulling on the tight, powdery gloves, and stepping to the bench, lab book in hand ready to investigate the findings.

These days I also bring a sense of compassion and kindness to my investigation.

By looking at the circumstance, thoughts and feelings that I was experiencing before the chip bag was ruptured open and ravaged I learned some important information.

I was creating a program for a new in-person coaching group.  I was excited about the content creation and program planning following requests from several clients.

I noticed that I was having some thoughts about how great this was going to be, and also some sneaky, shadow thoughts “What if no-one signs up?  Are you good enough to do this? Who do you think you are?”  Old thoughts.  Old patterns.  Triggering emotions of anxiety, inadequacy, vulnerability, shame, frustration, fear, and sadness.

Enter the chips.  And exit the chips, as internalizing the salty crunch became the ultimate decoy for dealing with my painful thoughts and emotions.

It’s Only Feedback 

I can still look now and see where a common human belief of not enough-ness unquestioned and where fear of stepping out and being seen triggered an action and result (empty chip packet).

Process, Practice and Commitment

This noticing, self compassion, self kindness is not a one-time thing.  It’s a process and a practice and a commitment to our self worth and health.  Remembering that perfection does not exist, and accepting ourselves and our imperfections with courage and love can open the door to a life well lived.

So, despite the chip incident, and my associated inner critic’s commentary, by mining for insights and adjusting my path, I can avoid the ruts where one chip empty chip packet could turn into one empty chip cupboard.  Where damaging patterns repeat day by day and week by week until you’re wearing your challenges in a body that no longer feels like your own.

So it speaks to why I am so committed to helping as many people as I can feel supported as they walk their path to wholehearted well-being.

Delicious Lives.  One step at a time.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jayne Wilton April 1, 2012 at 1:16 am

Another timely and, courageous and life-affirming post. I love reading your articles, the combination of humour, honesty and articulated intuition make for a very precious and generous treat! I wish you well with the course!

Helen April 1, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Thanks so much Jayne! Your comment made my day! Thanks for always being there and for your encouragement and support. Hxox

Marion Youngblood April 2, 2012 at 6:39 am

Helen, I love this article and I especially love your line, “Where damaging patterns repeat day by day and week by week until you’re wearing your challenges in a body that no longer feels like your own.” That one really spoke to me!

Thank you for demonstrating how to open the big bag of courage that it takes to look at our lives with the lab coat on. Very empowering.

helen April 2, 2012 at 9:45 am

Thanks so much Marion! And I love your line about opening the big bag of courage to take a look at your life – love that!!

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