Every now and then, I read something that unlocks a flood of ideas and connections in me.
Last time that happened, it was a simple sentence. This time, it was a whole article, by Denise of Nurturing Creativity. I wrote a post-length comment on the original — then realized I had more to say.
I have always been a bit naive, to some extent. I am too trusting, too quick to believe whatever I am told. Low confidence and a perfectionist nature make things worse: I’m often unsure of myself (though I’m getting better), and I never want to be wrong (though again, I’m improving).
And so, like Denise, I have often felt buffeted by the winds of personal development leaders, diet and fitness gurus, and whoever else is selling ideas I might buy into — even if I’m not sure I wholeheartedly believe in them.
The questions circle in my mind: Who is right? Which advice should I follow? Whose plan should I implement?
Turns out the answer, in many cases, is none of them.
I am learning this lesson the hard way — through trial and error. And I didn’t realize I was doing it until I read Denise’s words.
A Personal Story
For the past six years, I have had chronic health issues no doctor has been able to diagnose or alleviate. These issues are minor, in the grand scheme of things, but that doesn’t mean I’d like them to stay. When the lack of medical assistance became apparent early on, I began my search for the perfect diet to appease my angry innards.
Anyone who has known me through these past six years will tell you it has been a rollercoaster of a ride — and the ride continues. Party hosts have given up trying to feed me. Every time I visit my parents, I show up armed with my latest “Erin-safe” recipes. Sometimes even I can’t remember what I’m eating and what I’m avoiding.
At some point along the way, I realized: None of the diets out there has been a 100% fit for me. And it’s quite possible none ever will.
So I took a new approach. Instead of relying on what the experts said, I began keeping the pieces that work for me and seeking alternatives for the ones that don’t. I started listening to my body instead of letting my hopeful mind convince me this latest diet had worked. Instead of accepting any single diet, I am building my own from the parts of many.
Extending the Approach
I am only starting to realize that this approach extends far beyond my diet. It goes for philosophies, beliefs, methodologies, systems. It goes for fitness and learning and all kinds of things. Now that my eyes are open to it, I expect to see examples popping up everywhere.
Human beings nothing like cookie cutter copies of one another. So why should the newest fad be right for everyone? Why must we feel forced to stick with someone else’s plan? Why can’t we strike out and create our own? Why won’t we think for ourselves, rely more on our own experiences instead of blindly following what others prescribe?
Because no one has the magic pill.
This is the problem I have with so-called experts who push their offerings as the One True Universal Solution. There is no such thing. An idea or program may work for some people, or even for many people — but no way will it work for everyone. And that is ok.
I will never tell you that my way is the only way, or even the best way. It’s the best way for me, and I hope the reason you keep reading is that my words are helpful to you in some way. But just take the parts that work for you. This is not an all-or-nothing situation.
Most things aren’t.
If something you encounter is perfect for you, great. But if not, that’s ok too. Don’t feel guilty if the newest thing doesn’t work for you. Don’t feel broken if you have to swim against the tide of public opinion. Just because you don’t fit the current mold of normality doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you.
Don’t be afraid to pick and choose the parts that work for you and leave the rest. And I won’t, either.