About two weeks after the kids return to school, it starts. The candy and costume appear in the stores you frequent regularly. You can’t help but see it. Tricking your subconscious into memories of fun Halloweens and the deliciousness of the treats.
One of those memories is the houses with the “cool” candy. That’s part of the trick. We make the promise as a kid that we’d never hand out icky candy. Of course, as an adult it’s far more difficult to pass up snacking on the cool candy. Bite sized nuggets- so cute and innocently small- tempts us into just one, which always turns into 2, 3, or more pieces. Plus, those tempting morsels seem to be everywhere you go- in the office, at the bank, even my post office puts out a bowl.
Perhaps if we stopped at one piece it wouldn’t be a problem. The slippery slope comes when we lie to ourselves and say, “just one” or try to rationalize it by making up something else that will balance out the cheat that we never actually do.
The real evil of Halloween is the promise of fun and the treats that go along with it. We often don’t give ourselves permission to have fun, cut loose, or let go. On this one day, though, we can evolve into anything we want to be- scary, sexy, funny, intriguing. That transformation feels great. The problem is the next day, we have to go back to being who we think we’re supposed to be and repress that part of us that’s a little wild, wacky, and fun.
When we try to be who we think we’re supposed to be instead of just being ourselves, it takes a lot of energy. Honestly, it’s exhausting. There’s the part of you being contained that begins to feel like a caged wild animal. Balance is impossible, because when we do give into that hidden part of us longing to be free, it tends to make up for lost time.
The aftermath often leaves us feeling lousy, guilty, even shameful. We can diet and get the extra weight off, but that’s yet another repression. We can promise we’ll never do it again, but that doesn’t work either. We can do nothing and just try to ignore what’s happened. But we know we can’t ignore it every time we see ourselves in the mirror, put on the clothes that are a little snugger than they should be, or find our memory recalling (against our will) the events that let us here.
How to Change
To really make a lasting change, we have to get courageously honest with ourselves. Be willing to explore why we’re trying to be anything we’re not just to make others happy or to feel accepted, safe, or loved. Who was it that first made us believe we not okay as is? Perhaps a face immediately pops into mind or a culmination of lots of people. If we practice courageous honesty, how long are we willing to keep seeking their approval?
Next, we have to be willing to accept all the parts of ourselves. We don’t have to like all the parts necessarily. Just accepting they are a part of us, they aren’t going away, so we might as well get to know them. From there, we can start to integrate some daily fun and allow all the parts of ourselves to participate. If we remaining willing to be surprised at what we’re drawn to do, explore, or be, we’re likely in for an exciting adventure.
The last step is creating a daily ritual of balance. There’s a trick called the 80/20 rule. If 80% of the time we are eating healthy, exercising, sleeping well, drinking enough water, doing a mindfulness practice, then 20% of the time is for margin of error. That could be an extra glass of wine, sleeping through the mindfulness practice, cutting the exercise a little short, or a few extra pieces of the Halloween candy without the guilt and shame typically attached.
When we are able to move through Halloween in a balanced, healthy way, we are more likely gracefully and healthfully approach the upcoming holidays, all of which are far longer, stressful, and more tempting than even Halloween!
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