Podcast 150: You Don’t Have To Be Perfect

The “wellness” space online is saturated with One Weird Tricks and Simple Easy Solutions that promise to make you perfect. Perfect hair, perfect skin, perfect body fat percentage – all this and more for 5 easy payments of $39.99… it’s a trick. Even when it’s sincere, when people really believe they’ve found the one thing that’ll work for everyone, it’s still misleading.

None of us are perfect, nor can we be. Recognizing this helps us avoid scams and cults, but also helps us be more compassionate with others and offer more helpful advice. There are many ways to be healthy and many ways to get there. Don’t accept someone else’s standards of health, beauty, or fulfillment – explore, experiment, and develop your own.

Does that sound hard, that mental & emotional shift? Don’t worry: it is hard! And that’s ok! It’s hard for everyone. You don’t have to be perfect in your comfort-with-imperfection, either. 🙂

As always, please subscribe, rate, & review our podcast wherever you listen, so others can find it more easily. Thank you!!

Our theme music is “Wings” by Nicolai Heidlas.

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Episode Transcript

Katja (00:14):
Hi. I’m Katja.

Ryn (00:14):
And I’m Ryn.

Katja (00:15):
And we’re here in the Commonwealth Center for Holistic Herbalism in Boston, Massachusetts.

Ryn (00:18):
And on the internet everywhere thanks to the power of the podcast. Okay. So what are we going to talk about this week?

Katja (00:28):
Well, my big message that I have for everybody this week, and actually honestly all of the time, is that you do not have to be perfect.

Ryn (00:36):
Don’t you though?

Katja (00:37):
No.

Ryn (00:38):
Isn’t that what we’re all trying to do?

Katja (00:40):
No.

Ryn (00:40):
Can’t we become perfect with one weird trick or one excellent product.

Katja (00:45):
Right?

Ryn (00:45):
Or perhaps if I just get strict enough with myself, maybe if I really beat myself into submission, then I could be perfect.

Katja (00:51):
Right. Because the thing is that in the like wellness space, which whatever that means, like on wellness websites and whatever, you so frequently get that message. Like, you could be perfect if you just buy this thing or do this thing. And you can’t be perfect. And also you do not have to be perfect. You just don’t have to be. You are great. And that’s good enough.

Ryn (01:20):
Yeah. So that’s going to be our topic, but before we dive in, let’s get our reclaimer going where we remind you that we are not doctors. We are herbalists and holistic health educators.

Katja (01:30):
The ideas discussed in this podcast do not constitute medical advice. No state or federal authority licenses herbalists in the United States. And these discussions are for educational purposes only. Everybody’s body is different. So the things that we’re talking about may or may not apply directly to you, but we hope that they’ll give you some good information to think about and some ideas to research further.

Ryn (01:52):
Yeah. And we just want to remind you that good health is your own right and also your own responsibility. And this means that the final decision when you’re considering any course of therapy, discussed on the internet or prescribed by a physician, is always yours.

Katja (02:04):
Maybe we should add to that statement that also good health is up to you to determine. You are the one who knows what’s going on in your life right now. And it’s not for somebody else to say how come you gained five pounds? Like maybe that is actually fine. Maybe that’s actually the better alternative for you than something else. I don’t really know how to say that in a very efficient way, but I’m going to think about it.

Ryn (02:35):
Yeah. We can work on some language.

Katja (02:38):
Other people can’t judge whether or not you are being good enough.

Ryn (02:43):
Yeah. And you know, there is an aspect of the way that we’ve been saying that, that I do want to alter a little bit. Because when we talk about good health being your responsibility, and that it’s kind of incumbent on each of us to understand at least a bit about health and how we can maintain it and enhance it for ourselves and maybe for people around us. You don’t have to feel bad if you’re not particularly good at that, or if you’re not sure where to start, or you don’t know what to do. You know, you’re here. You’re listening to this podcast and probably others like it. You’re already taking steps to try to improve your health. So, you don’t have to be doing all of the things. You don’t have to be done. You don’t have to have gathered all of the information and have all of the answers in order to be helpful, to be improving, to be feeling better. You also don’t have to feel better every day or every minutes in a linear progression that always marches onwards and upwards. There’s going to be bad days. There’s going to be days when you feel terrible. There’s going to be days when you’re like, I don’t know if I can put on a smiley face and make a podcast today. I’m actually feeling kind of bad right now. And I would rather be sleeping. Sometimes you feel that way, you know?

Katja (03:56):
Yeah. Sometimes.

Ryn (03:56):
Sometimes.

Katja (03:58):
I think also that it’s not your responsibility to live up to somebody else’s definition of health. So, I think we see that around weight so much. That we have this cultural, whatever, norm that says that a healthy weight is skinny, and that is…do we not? We don’t cuss on the pod, do we.

Ryn (04:23):
We try to keep it minimal.

Katja (04:26):
Yeah we do. Ya’ll, that’s bogus. Okay. It’s worse than bogus. But you know, you are the one who gets to define what healthy is for you. And so to say that good health is your responsibility, originally that came from wanting to return that responsibility to the people, instead of having that responsibility reside in somebody who wears a white coat, but doesn’t know what it is to live in your body. So a doctor or an herbalist or a therapist or a nutritionist, or any person who has education who can give you ideas about how to be healthy, those people can be helpful. And absolutely you should consult the people who can be helpful for you. But they’re not the ones who get to make the final decision. That’s your right and your responsibility. You’re the one who gets to decide, using all of your experience of living in your body, what you want to do to get…in order to, I was going to say to get healthy, but like in order to feel good in your body, in order to feel what you define. Even the definition of good. I’m thinking about an endometriosis client from a long time ago. And I remember a point in which her cramps and her pain around menstruation had decreased so drastically in her terms, that to her it was like this enormous lightening of a terrible load. And yet I was really aware at the time, just from her description, I was like, wow. To me that would be very upsetting if I were in that much pain. And to you right now this feels like freedom. And nobody can know what it is to live in your body. You’re the one who gets to make that decision. And in our culture the responsibility for that decision has kind of been shifted to doctors. And so when we say that your health is your own responsibility, it is because we want to return that decision to the people. But it’s still hard to say. Like, look at all these words. I don’t know if we even did it yet.

Ryn (06:52):
Yeah. For real. Well, so you had some thoughts this week that kind of started around not noticing, but turning attention back to trends in wellness space and in Instagram healthcare advice and stuff like that that are worth addressing and worth thinking about.

Images of Perfection Aren’t Real

Katja (07:14):
Yeah. The wellness space is just so packed with all these guru personalities. And like, I’m sure that you can bring some to mind right now who are like just take this expensive supplement and you’ll feel like you did when you were 19. Or do this juice fast and you’ll have boundless energy, or here’s one simple trick to make all of your problems go away and everyone love you. Also it’s expensive and you can only buy it from me. And that kind of portrayal, combined with these images of sparkling happy, shiny people – and by the way, those images are not real. They’re photo-shopped or like, I don’t know if y’all know this or not, but people use tape to make their bodies look different in places where you can’t see the tape. So if you get some good, strong duct tape, and you tape it across your back in a way, it will pull your waist to be smaller. It’s like a corset, but with tape. And you don’t even have to have Photoshop to make pictures that are not real. So, there’s just all these images that go along with these messages and the images are reinforcing this idea that you could be perfect, and you should be perfect. And they’re reinforcing this cultural norm about what perfect even means or what that even should look like. And all of this stuff is actually doing quite a lot of damage. So that’s, I think, the thing that I really want to get at. Not only is it nice to say, hey, you don’t have to be perfect. But this constant input of you should be perfect, and here’s the one thing you need to do to actually get there. It’s harmful.

Ryn (09:10):
Yeah. And it’s not as if this is being put out there explicitly, right? Like take this one thing and now all of your health problems will go away forever. I mean, okay. Sometimes there’s a little bit of a miracle cure kind of ethic, you know, in the way that things are being advertised and so on. But when we talk about these as the kind of messages we get from our social media feed or from advertisements or whatever else, these are the kind of underlying content or the subtext of what it is that we’re seeing and what we’re looking at. And in a large part, being aware of that is the first step to recognize when I see something like that, okay, this is manipulated. This is trying to present something in particular to me. And a lot of times to manipulate me to feel a particular way or to notice a particular lack in my life that I never considered before, things like that, and then offer to fill it. So that’s the way that that goes. And again, being aware of that first is a really good start. And then we can also start to think about counter-programming.

Whoever you are Right Now is Okay

Katja (10:13):
Yeah. I kind of want to break down the messages that these wellness, what gurus, whatever send into like four categories. There’s more, but these are four that are kind of important to me. So the first is that we’re getting these messages that say that whoever you are right now, whoever I am right now is not okay. And that makes me really angry, because who you are right now is who you are right now. And that is inherently okay. Like, it just, it is. It is real. Like how can it not be okay to be who you are. That makes me mad. So, there may be changes that you want to make. And I will be really personal here instead of like trying to put this in the second person or whatever. But like, okay, I have gained some weight during the last couple of years because of dealing with stress and some family trauma stuff. And I would like to lose that weight. That would be fantastic. I would feel better. It would be better for my body. I would feel better about the way I look, and that has its own whole pile of issues that are maybe not okay. Issues that I’ve been fed throughout my life about what attractive is. None of that stuff means that I’m not okay. I am okay. I am okay even though I’ve gained a little weight. I am okay. So that’s the first thing is just that to have these messages constantly every day that says you’re not okay. Who you are is not okay. Who you are is okay. And who I am is okay. It’s great. So I would like to be very clear about that. It’s okay.

Katja (11:58):
So the next part that I take from these when I look at them is that we’re getting these messages that in order to be okay – like we’ve established that you’re not okay – in order to be okay, you have to be somebody’s ideal version of okay, which almost always involves you giving them your money. And I want to be clear. It is totally appropriate to pay a fair price for herbs, totally appropriate to pay a fair price for food, and also for education. All those things are fine. But it’s not fine for someone to tell you that the one thing that will solve all of the problems that they have decided you have is this one easy step or this magical supplement that you can buy from them. That’s a scheme. So if you are out there thinking I would like to learn more in general about my body, about health, about ways I can get there. Then I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with paying a teacher a fair price for the education. Or if you’ve decided the way I’m going to get there is to eat more vegetables, there’s nothing wrong with paying a fair price for good quality vegetables. I’m not implying that all things that have money are bad. Although I will also say that money in general is problematic. And economics, there are problems with it. But in this particular case, I just want to make the distinction between not every single thing that involves money is necessarily a scheme. But when they’re telling you, you’re not okay. I have decided that you are not okay. And I can tell you how to get okay. And you have to give me your money for this thing, this magic thing. That’s what I would like to avoid.

Ryn (13:45):
Yeah, absolutely. You know and it also gives you this impression or this message that if you’re not doing the one magic thing, the one easy thing, the one weird trick, whatever. If you’re not doing it, then it’s your fault that you’re not perfect by my standards, by whatever standards. That’s pretty troublesome, because even if you go do that thing, it’s not going to solve all of your problems. So then what are you supposed to think? What are you supposed to feel when that turns out? Right? I mean, instead of thinking, oh, hey, wait a minute. Being a human is just a constant journey of slow growth and nothing is simple. Nothing works overnight. Instead you’re going to be less likely to be left thinking that you’re bad because it didn’t work for you. Like there’s something specifically wrong with you as an individual. But look at these shiny, happy girls over there who are telling us that it’s all going to work out fine, And everything’s going to be great. It worked for them. So what’s wrong with me.

Katja (14:40):
Which is so isolating. Like now you’re doubly in the hole of I’m not good enough. Like who I am is inherently not okay. Bad. Yeah. Really the bottom line is that there is nothing bad about you. There’s nothing wrong about you. And that life is a constant journey of long slow growth. That is real. You cannot lose however many pounds. Like you go to the grocery store and there’s those magazines, which is so diabolical, actually. You’re buying your food. You have your cart full of your food, and you’ve made whatever your choices were. And some of them might be cake, because that might be the reality right now. And now you stand in line to pay. And there’s all these magazines saying lose 500 pounds in one week, you know, like whatever. And almost always it’s tied to self-worth, and not even self-worth, but also community worth. Like lose this number of pounds is totally unreasonable, and number of pounds in this totally unreasonable number of days so that you will have value for yourself and so that you will have value to other people. Meanwhile, you’re standing there with your cart, with whatever’s in it. And whatever’s in it is in it because of a million different reasons. And because today to keep you emotionally stable you’re going to have some cake. That’s just going to be a reality. Or because this is how much money you have, and these are the calories that you could afford, or because a million other things. And yet now we’re getting the message in the checkout line that none of that is actually okay. If there’s anything other than salmon and kale in your cart, you know, whatever. It’s a constant journey of long, slow growth. That is the nature of humanity. Like to be a human is a constant journey of long, slow growth.

Ryn (16:43):
Yeah. And we’re going to grow. We’re going to evolve. We’re going to change in different ways from one another as time goes by. And so the things that we need, or the things that help us most are going to be different from one person to another. These kinds of marketing or presentation or even sincere belief in this is the best way to be healthy. And everybody needs to eat like me, or everybody needs to meditate like me or whatever else. Even when the belief is sincere, it does give the message that there’s only one way to fix your problem, or to fix everybody’s problems. And that’s a purity trap, you know. That’s the kind of thinking that’s just going to get us stuck in either feeling self-righteous and better than others or feeling never good enough, and fundamentally broken in some deep way. So that’s why we like to remind people that you don’t lose your herbalist club card if you have to take antibiotics or antidepressants or get a surgical procedure done or whatever else it may be, right? There’s lots of different ways to fix health issues. And at any one time, some of them are going to be more accessible than others, or easier to implement than others, or a better fit for you for any number of reasons. Some will be more effective than others in your own system, you know. But you don’t know until you try with most of these things. And sometimes there are situations where surgery, antibiotics, whatever really is the only answer to the kind of problem that you’ve got. And that doesn’t make you bad for getting into that position to begin with, or for choosing the things that you need to do when you need to do them.

Choose the Best You Can Each Day

Katja (18:14):
Honestly you might not have even gotten yourself into that situation. Like, think about children who have to have surgeries young in life. Like, was it their fault that they had some kind of congenital heart defect or whatever? Like on one hand, yes. The choices that we make in our lives do impact our health. And sometimes the choices that we make in our lives have consequences down the road. And on the other hand, that does not mean that, well, look at your heart problems. It’s all your fault. I like to feel like I am empowered in my own body. And I find it empowering to see that choices I make have impact on my health. And even if I’m looking retroactively and saying, oh, that’s how… Well I can be very specific about an example. So I was injured when I was young. I was in my twenties. I was a competitive kickboxer. And I was not really good at proprioception. I wasn’t very grounded in my body. So, like I wasn’t centered in my body. And especially at that time, it was much less common for girls to do that kind of activity anyway. And my body has a different center of gravity regardless than a man’s body. Even if we’re the same size, I still have a different center of gravity. And so, I didn’t really learn to use my body as effectively as I should have, really at the fundamental level. And so I was injured. I was good at what I did, because I was big and had a lot of momentum. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that I was skilled at what I did. I was effective, but I wasn’t necessarily skilled at it.

Katja (20:08):
And that only takes you so far. So at a certain point, my effectiveness because of some factors, was wiped out by my lack of skill, and I was injured. And that injury persists. And it’s fairly well-managed now, as long as I keep a certain level of activity. If I sink below that, then I’m in trouble. So I like to look back and say, oh, because I didn’t understand the mechanics of my body, because I didn’t train quite properly, because I didn’t really realize that I needed to understand some physics and geometry and then how to apply that to my own body. And I needed some kind of remedial training, actually, in fundamental concepts of movement. And because I did not do those things, that is what led to the injury. That feels very empowering to me. Because I can look at it. I can see, okay, I understand how that happened. I understand how I can prevent that from happening in the future. That’s not the same as saying everything that has ever happened to your health is all your fault. Right? And I guess it’s kind of a nuanced distinction, but I think it’s a very important distinction. I would still rather be able to look back and say, I see how the food choices I was making when I was really stressed out have led to increased inflammation in my body. And I see how I can change that when I’m ready to make that change. Anyway, the whole thing here is that regardless, there is never just one way to fix the problem. There are so many ways to fix the problem. And some of those ways won’t be accessible in any given time, because maybe you didn’t know about them, or maybe you couldn’t afford them, or maybe the people you’re working with didn’t know about them, or maybe they took a lot of energy and you didn’t have that energy right then.

Katja (22:06):
So it’s not worth beating yourself up about I didn’t choose the best perfect option to get myself healthy. Choose what you have available to you that seems like the best idea at the time, and then go with it. And if later another idea seems like the best idea at the time, then go with that. Every day we are progressing. Every day we’re a little different. And every day, really, we just need to do what we have to do to get ourselves through the day in a way that’s as comfortable as possible. That’s it.

Ryn (22:46):
Right. Yeah. You know, one problem, or one of the ways that this problem manifests itself in our society right now is that when people are frustrated with conventional medicine experiences they’ve had, or experiences that they’ve heard about, when they start to understand that there are some limitations there, or there are obviously some really terrible histories of abuse, including things like the Tuskegee experiments and things like that. So, the kind of deserved and realistic skepticism, or even mistrust that people may feel towards conventional medicine can also be weaponized against those same people. And one of the ways we see that playing out right now is that there’s been a lot of crossover between so-called natural or even holistic health advocates online and conspiracy theories, including QAnon, which of course is rampant in our country right now. And has a lot of adherence and people who are believing really extreme and terrible things about all kinds of folks, not just famous politicians, but neighbors and other people in their community. And medical practitioners who are trying to help people and trying to vaccinate people or whatever, get them to wear masks or this or that. And so all of this kind of resentment and distrust is being utilized to draw people into those conspiracy worlds. And that’s problematic in its own right, because of the politics and because of the violence and because of the way that that cult is expressing its will in the world. But also we need to be aware of this because if we’re looking at that as simply a problem of some people who got duped by misinformation on the internet, then we’re actually not really seeing the full scope of the issue. Part of the problem here is that a healthy skepticism or a healthy mistrust of the way that conventional medicine is the dominant paradigm and is often unquestioningly dominant, can easily slide over into accepting a broader story or a more sinister story about why that is the way it is, and the why that that happens, and ascribing more sinister motives than are actually necessary, right? The kind of dominant medical paradigm and the sort of habit of obedience to medical authority and so on has had a lot of problems to it. But it’s…

Katja (25:39):
It’s like we’re back to responsibility again. Right? So, for so long that the conventional medical paradigm included in it that you didn’t have responsibility. That responsibility was taken over by the doctor.

Be On Guard for Wellness Gurus

Ryn (25:56):
Right. I guess what I want to express here really, I think, is that sometimes the way that this is presented to people is not actually any different from accepting the authority of a medical figure. That is to say, I want you to accept the authority of this other figure instead, right? Whether it’s a wellness guru or whether it’s anonymous posters on internet message boards who supposedly have all answers to everything, or whatever it is. That’s not fundamentally different in kind, it’s simply a shift in who you’ve chosen to be your authority. And so we need to be on guard for that, not just in the extreme cases where someone is following all of the message posts from Q or whatever else, but also in other cases that are kind of sliding in that direction. Right? So the idea of a slippery slope is philosophically fraught. And I like to poke holes in it a lot myself. But it is important to be aware of the ways in which our habits of response to information and our habits of where we look to information that we regard as trustworthy can lead us into some problematic directions if we’re not careful. And I think the biggest problem is really like choosing…It’s the same problem, essentially, right? It’s like choosing to follow a guru is again, not fundamentally different from doing whatever your doctor tells you, even if they haven’t been paying attention to you for your entire appointment with them.

Katja (27:24):
And it’s hard to take that responsibility back. It’s really hard to say, oh, I see. You know, like in my case, I was raised in a system. I didn’t have that responsibility to begin with when I was raised. My mom had had given over that responsibility, I think maybe a little less than many people, because she was trained as a nurse. And she did like to figure things out herself beforehand. But still she was trained as a nurse in the fifties. So there still was that kind of obey the doctor aspect. And that was also the culture that I was raised in, the obey the doctor aspect. And that was also the culture that doctors were raised in, right? Like part of this isn’t even their fault. They were trained to be obeyed. And so like all of society on both sides had this idea, not just of like, well, it’s the doctor’s responsibility to make me healthy. But also the doctor like, oh boy. It’s my responsibility to make you healthy.

Ryn (28:31):
Yeah. But I mean this is a fundamental problem anytime we’re trying to do something revolutionary, is that you’re at major risk of recapitulating the same structures that you were struggling against in the first place. So this is why we spend so much time trying to tell you about our own flaws and failings, and prevent you from turning us into gurus. You never do something because Ryn and Katja said so, I hope.

Katja (28:54):
I hope. Yeah. I mean, like, we try to have good ideas. And we try to also ground the stuff we do both in our personal experience and in science as well. That doesn’t necessarily mean, that certainly doesn’t mean we can never make a mistake, but it also doesn’t necessarily mean that it is going to work for you. Because every body is different. Yeah.

Ryn (29:16):
Yeah. So instead of thinking that we need to just find the proper authority to make all of our decisions for us. Instead of thinking that if we find the right trick or the one thing or the perfect herb or the whatever else, then we will become perfect. Instead of that, what can we do instead?

Katja (29:35):
So I think the most important part is to really try to be in that middle space of once we have reclaimed that sort of final decision for our health, to then hold onto it. Not give it away to some new person, whether that is some sparkly health guru on a wellness website or your friendly neighborhood herbalist or whatever else. To try to stand in that place of, I can make my own decisions about my body. I will get education that I need to make that decision. But in the end I’m the one with the authority to make that decision. And to just fight to be in that space. For me that looks like accepting that I am who I am, and that who I am is okay. So today who I am is 47 years old, and has gained a little bit of weight as a way to cope with stress, and has some varicose veins, and is perimenopausal, and has an old sports injury. And today I am doing my best to make good choices to support my health, and to make sure that I can keep my body moving, and to make sure that my mental health is in good shape. And that is it. That is all there is right. I can’t not be perimenopausal. I can’t be like, oh, can I just take my one magic supplement and not be that? No, I am that, and it is good. It is okay. Humans need to be perimenopausal, well, humans who will be menopausal need to be that at a time. It is part of the experience of being human. So I don’t need to wish that I wasn’t. And I don’t need to say that because I am, I’m not good. Or that because I have an old sports injury I’m not good, or because I have some varicose veins I’m not good.

Katja (31:24):
I am. The choices that I make to try to keep myself healthy and feeling good and energetic, first off, those are going to have different definitions from day to day. It’s okay to be a little less energetic sometimes. It’s okay to want to nap sometimes. That’s the normal cycle of being human. So those choices that I make might look different because there are lots of different ways to do that work. And on any given day the most appropriate way for me to do that work might be different. On one day it might be, you want to know what. I’m going to just grab some tulsi and push through this tired fog that I’m in. And another day the right answer might be just take a nap. Just take a nap, you know. One of those cannot be the only right answer. So, I’m never going to be 19 again. Thank goodness. And even if I was, I actually had some varicose veins when I was 19. So, I still wouldn’t be in some like miracle definition of perfect health. I wasn’t then either. So instead I want to appreciate my body the way that it is today. I want to appreciate the experience of being a human at all different ages and in all different states. And I refuse to tell myself that my entire value is wrapped up in some previous skinnier, younger version of myself, which even if it were, that previous skinnier, younger version of myself lacked some wisdom. And I think I would prefer the wisdom that I have bought with a few extra pounds.

Find & Try Things that Work for You

Ryn (33:08):
Yeah. You know, we want to share the things that we find helpful. And at the same time, we want to be honest about the challenges and the reality of life or lives, you know, because each life has different challenges. And we also want other people to take whatever seems helpful into their own lives, into their own situations, and not to feel judged by us or by anybody if parts of it aren’t. So if I talk about my favorite herbs in the world, and you’re like Ryn, I’ve tried Solomon’s seal. I just don’t care. It doesn’t do it for me. I’ll be sad for you that you don’t get to have those experiences that I’ve enjoyed. But that doesn’t mean you’re wrong.

Katja (33:47):
I mean, ya’ll, if you want to eat a gluteny dairy pizza, I’m not going to be like, you’re such a bad person. I can’t believe you. Like if you can get away with that, do it. In my experience, most people feel some discomfort after doing it. But sometimes that discomfort might be worth it to you. And you’re allowed to make that decision. I am not the one who says, ooh, are you sure you want to eat that? That’s not up to me. That’s up to you. And sometimes it’s worth the bellyache. You get to choose that. Not us.

Ryn (34:22):
Yeah.

Katja (34:23):
I think also that I really don’t want anybody to believe what I say because I’m some girl with a podcast and an herb school, you know? I want people to have interesting things to think about. I want people to have ideas to investigate and see whether or not those things could be helpful in their lives. And if they’re not helpful, I actually still think that the thought exercise is handy. Because when you’re thinking about things that might help, trying to evaluate them, even if you at some point determined that they’re not going to work for you, I think that that gets you into a creative problem solving space where you can consider a lot of possible options. And I think that has value.

Ryn (35:03):
Yeah. It’s nice to have options.

Katja (35:06):
I remember when we were first getting together, and at some point I found out that you were not eating gluten or dairy even when we weren’t together. And I found it out after you had been doing it for like a month or six weeks or something. And I was like, what? Why are you? You don’t have to do that. Why are you doing that? And you were like, I just want to see what happens if I try it. Like you’re doing it. I just thought I would check it out. I don’t know. I just thought I would try it and see if it’s a good idea or not.

Ryn (35:39):
It turned out to be a good idea.

Katja (35:40):
Yeah. It was good for your body. But I think that is the way to do it. If you see somebody trying something and you’re like, oh, that’s interesting. I wonder what effect that might have. Great. Try it.

Ryn (35:54):
You don’t have to get too attached in either direction. Too attached in the way of, well, it worked for them, so it’s going to work for me. Or I really don’t like that person so their idea definitely isn’t going to work for me or whatever. However that plays out for you.

Katja (36:08):
Yeah. Or it didn’t work for them, and therefore there’s no way it’ll work for me either. You know, I think that we see this so often, especially in terms of chronic disease where lots of people have chronic diseases. And many people have found things that improve their situation and they feel really excited about it. So they want to share that with people. And there’s actually nothing wrong with that. But on the other hand, other people receiving that sharing often feel like, hey, I’m just doing the best I can over here. And I actually didn’t ask for advice. And I’m so excited that you found something that worked for you, but please don’t tell me that it’s what I have to do. I think that if we all shared things in terms of like, this has been very helpful for me. This has been very helpful for a friend of mine. This has been very helpful for whatever. It would kind of take a little bit of pressure off a person hearing that feeling like, well, what are you expecting me to just do that today? Because honestly, I don’t feel good enough to even think about how I would implement that.

Ryn (37:08):
Yeah. And so even if somebody doesn’t necessarily express it that way, you can still kind of say, all right, I heard what you said. But what you’re trying to tell me is that this worked for you and maybe it would work for me. And you weren’t really trying to like shame me for eating meat or whatever, right? I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt for just a moment here.

Katja (37:29):
I also think that things that won’t work for me, or for us or whatever, but in this particular example, it’s going to be pretty specific to me. I think that there are many things that won’t work for me that might work for you. And a good example is to just look at all the people who find relief from pain or nausea or whatever from CBD products to which I am super, super, super allergic. So that doesn’t mean just because I’m anaphylactically allergic to cannabis products does not mean that cannabis can’t be helpful for lots of people. It can be. We just not all the same. We’re all different.

Ryn (38:08):
Right. You know, by the same token, the person who says that CBD worked for my pain and literally nothing else did. So everybody needs to have this for pain, right? Again, too far in the other direction.

Katja (38:20):
Right. I deal with pain a lot, and I have never worked with CBD to deal with that pain. And I have found lots of ways to manage it. So yeah, you have to find what works for you. And it is awesome to listen to lots of input and creative ideas. But in the end, you’re the one who gets to decide what you’re going to try. You are the one who gets to decide what works for you and what doesn’t, you’re the one who even gets to set those parameters. Like maybe being gluten free did feel better for a while, but the energy and effort that it took to implement that was so big that the tradeoff wasn’t worth it. You’re the one who gets to make that decision. So coming back to this wellness place, on one hand it’s very simple. It is do what I tell you. Your life will be great. It’ll be shining and happy just like these beautiful pictures here. And in fact, reality is so much more complicated than that. All of us have to find our own way to live our lives in a way that feels good in our bodies, or it feels as good as it can in our bodies.

Ryn (39:34):
Yeah. And the way that we do that is we try things and we observe and see how they feel. And then we make adjustments, and we kind of move on forward. So, I kind of want to put a little like twist at the end here for you. Which is that shifts in our mental health are very similar to shifts in our physical health or our metabolic health. And so if this kind of perspective that we’ve been describing here today of the way that we can look at health information and the way that we can receive that or offer that to other people. The way that we can react to advertisements and influencer posts and guru types and all of that kind of thing. If this perspective we’ve been describing feels healthier to you, like, yeah, I would love to feel that way or to like have a little critical distance when I look at the beautiful people on the advertisements telling me that I’m not good enough. If that feels like that would be healthier, but also feels like it’s out of your reach right now. Like, you know that you can’t quite get yourself fully into that space. Like maybe intellectually part of your mind is like, okay, I recognize that. But also I feel bad. And I feel like I’m being personally shamed when people advocate a diet or they advocate a health intervention or whatever. If you feel that way, that’s okay, right? That’s just the same as somebody who has some pre-diabetes going on and knows they want to reduce their carb intake, but is having some trouble with it. Same exact thing is happening here in terms of your emotions and mental patterns. So, if it’s difficult to feel deeply that it’s okay to not be perfect. That’s also all right.

Katja (41:15):
Yeah. It’s just, I think just holding on to the reality that it is very hard to stay in that middle place. Our culture doesn’t really know how to do it. And I think it isn’t even just our culture in the United States or in the West TM or whatever. I think that it might also be human. Like there may be some aspect of human that there is an efficiency in just doing what someone tells you. And there’s sort of a limited number of things you can stand strong on in a given day, and you kind of have to make your choices. And so in that case, maybe you say, yeah, I recognize that I should not give my authority over, my health decisions to somebody else. But right now that takes too much energy for me. And therefore instead I will spend a little bit of time finding somebody that I trust, finding somebody that has integrity. And I will allow myself to just go with what they say for a short period of time or for a long period of time until I feel like I have the energy to stand a little bit firmer in my middle place of I will receive education and then I will make my decisions. Yeah. It’s just the same thing as I’m going to eat some cake instead of self-harm.

Ryn (42:47):
Yeah. All right. Well, that’s what we’ve been thinking about lately and wanted to share with you all. So thanks for listening. We’ll be back next time with some more Holistic Herbalism podcast for you. Until then take care of yourselves. Take care of each other, drink some tea.

Katja (43:04):
Drink some tea.

Ryn (43:05):
And yeah, that’s that.

Katja (43:07):
And do what you gotta do. Do what you gotta do to feel the way you need to feel today.

Ryn (43:14):
Yeah. Okay. Bye.

Katja (43:15):
Bye.

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