I recently bought my first car. Leading up to the purchase was labor-intensive but it was nothing compared to the emotional process that followed. People say buying a car is supposed to feel good but in the wake of the purchase, I felt only remorse. I would find something about the car to feel bad about, do some research and felt better, then I would find something else to fixate on.
The remorse-cycle continued and the question propelling it was, "Could I have made a better choice?"
My clients hold this question about food often. They have a similar process choosing food as I had choosing a car: research all the options, plan ahead to ensure the best option happens, identify the deal-breakers to ensure low-risk, and whatever happens after that we can rest assured the best choice was made.
Simple enough. Except inevitably life happens and the plan has to adjust. Maybe the thing we wanted was sold out or outside our budget. What do we do then? How do we mitigate remorse after a decision was made when our fail-safes fail? How do we trust that the second-best choice, or even the choice we end up making, is good enough?
Here are a few things to practice in effort to support our connection to our wisdom and live with our choices.
Self-compassion: first and foremost, we have to be kind to ourselves. This seems obvious but we so often make a choice, anticipate the worst-case scenario and think, "I should have known better!" Even when we make mistakes, we make the best decision we can with the information we have. Sometimes we don't know the outcome until the decision has been made but we couldn't have known that unless we did the thing.
Your desire is valid: part of the information involved with making a decision is, "What do I want?" When we're not conscious about our wanting, it can subconsciously override our other factors and suddenly we're upset we chose something that goes against what we were "supposed" to choose. If you relate to this, I invite you to name your desire in the decision making process. Notice what direction you have a bias toward, that in and of itself is really helpful information.
Fact check: notice what you are projecting that hasn't even happened yet. Disaster-thinking is incredibly tempting when we don't know what comes next. We want to be prepared for the worst-case scenario(s) so we ruminate on them. When you notice yourself doing this, pause and take into account want is actually happening now. More often than not, we haven't even made a mistake we're just afraid we did.
Trust your recovery: more often than not, especially when it comes to food, whatever the cost is of eating something, we can recover. Some exceptions include eating something you have a lethal allergy toward, specific kinds of food poisoning, and medical conditions or medication that interrupt our ability to process food. But two things are certain about food and our bodies: one meal cannot change your body and your body will never stop changing.
Abundance mentality: this is important to practice all throughout the decision making process.
Before a decision is made, remembering that this is not the only chance we have to experience said-thing, either with food or otherwise, supports a calm nervous system and helps us connect to our wisdom and authentic desire.
After we've made a choice, even if its a bad one, we can apply what we've learned and consider that information the next time we're facing these options.*
*NOTE: Learning from a "mistake" with food can be tricky. Sometimes we're trying a food we don't feel safe around, give it a shot, and then feel terrible afterward and think, "This is why I don't eat this food." If this is you, I want to invite you to consider how you felt before you ate the food: were you starving, were you connected with yourself, were you already feeling bad about something else or yourself? If we're making a decision from an ungrounded place and then feel bad about that choice afterward, we are vulnerable to misplacing the cause of those bad feelings onto the thing we chose.
The healing we do around our bodies and food so often touches on other areas of our life. I cannot tell you how many people I work with around food, who end up making drastic changes in their lives because their relationship with food was really a symptom of a greater imbalance that felt way too overwhelming to look that. And that's fair.
These 5 tips, as well as the work I do with others, is all about supporting our return to a sense of wholeness with compassion, trusting that all of it is in service of our healing.