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Creative Hopelessness

By Charlene Rayburn

It’s January, and like every year I’m bombarded with the typical New Year’s advertisements for weight loss strategies everywhere I go, and everywhere I look…even wherever I’m listening. But, unlike every year before, I am so grateful to have a completely different response to the endless barrage.

In years past, I would sift through all the ads looking for the perfect diet for me. Maybe, just maybe, I would find the one that works. I’d listen, read, or investigate them…the premeasured, prepared meals; the food combination strategies; the counting of something (carbs, calories, points, grams, etc.); the low-this, or high-that plan; the miracle foods or juices; the what-time-of-day or how-many-times-a-day to eat hamster on wheelstrategies, and on and on like a hamster on his wheel. Exhausting, isn’t it? Yet, I was determined to be tireless in my search. I would not give up! Giving up the search meant giving up on me. So, I’d fan my faint glimmer of hope to motivate myself again and I’d continue to read, study, and experiment.

It reminds me of a term used by some psychologists, “creative hopelessness.” It is what they call the process of helping a client realize that the countless strategies they’ve been using are useless or counterproductive. It is helping them to pop that illusionary bubble in which they believe, “If I try harder this time,” or “If I really, really follow the rules,” things will be different. It also reminds me of the definition of insanity, you know, “doing the same things over and over and expecting different results.” Speaking of insanity, that’s how I label the entire weight loss craze now. First, they have to make you feel like something is wrong with you currently (“you’re too fat”), so they can unveil the vision of your utopian future (“your thin beautiful body and the beautiful life that comes with it”), so they can then sell their “solution.” I believe some of them are well-meaning, and some of them are not.

The Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating program has changed my perspective completely. I can now see how creative and hopeless those strategies are. Instead of listening to all those ads, I can slip back into my own skin, regardless of its size, and listen to my own body. Furthermore I can love my body today, love myself today, love my life today, and love my journey to health which includes eating what I love and moving my body in ways that I love each and every day. Now, that’s what I call a richer life–one filled with creativity, and full of not only hope, but joy!

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About the author

Charlene Rayburn, CVCC, lives her passion for mindfulness and intentional leadership by serving as a personal and professional leadership coach, by managing a department of dedicated employees for a Fortune 500 sized health insurance organization, and by facilitating Am I Hungry?® workshops and coaching sessions. She has coached extensively with individuals and groups outside the corporate world, as well as with executives, leaders, and teams in non-profit, private, public, governmental, and educational organizations spanning the globe. Charlene received her coaching certificate through the Center for Coaching Mastery at Coachville, LLC, and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in Management from Davenport University. She is a member of the National Management Association. One of her most emotionally challenging and rewarding experiences was serving as a volunteer at the Center for Battered Women. Charlene currently lives in Michigan and enjoys spending time with her husband of over 20 years, reading, learning, cooking, practicing yoga, and watching her grandson grow, who lives with his dad, her stepson in Fort Worth, Texas.

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