Why I Started Eating Meat
Recently I started eating meat but not for any of the usual reasons. Usually when you read on a fitness site about someone eating meat it’s because they’re into Paleo, need the higher protein intake, or found an ethical justification for their omnivorous preferences.
And while those might be good reasons to eat meat, that’s not why I started eating meat again. To understand why, I have to tell you a story.
You see, for years I smoked cigarettes. I knew they were bad for me, I knew they would slowly shorten my life, and I knew that it was a waste of time and money. But I smoked them anyway, not in spite of all of these things, but rather because of them.
Smoking made me feel rebellious and free. Moreover, it matched my pseudo angsty, music business lifestyle. I would try to quit from time to time. Then I started meditating and learning about the nature of desire. And it became much harder to hide behind my flimsy justifications for this clearly unskillful habit.
So over the course of a month I started smoking less and less, practicing with the desire to smoke, until I finally quit. And while I was happy to release this habit, I found it left me feeling empty. Sure there was the nicotine withdrawal, but there was more.
For the first few months, I struggled. I became anxious and stressed, and I started to engage in other rebellious behaviors.
At first, I was really hard on myself. It was as if I had this inner ruling council dictating what was good and bad. And it saw these behaviors as failures of character and criticized me relentlessly for them. But then something shifted.
I realized that while these behaviors weren’t totally inline with the lofty ideals of this inner ruling council, they were all much better than smoking. I realized that while I couldn’t let my inner rebel get out of control it was also a mistake to try to destroy it completely.
After all my inner rebel did have some good points. It helped me relax, have fun, and most importantly not take myself too seriously.
As soon as I was able to accept it as a part of who I am, I was able to make a conscious choice about how and when to feed it.
Feeding Your Inner Rebel
By now you’re probably wondering what this has to do eating meat. Well, recently I’ve been struggling. I’ve felt depressed, frustrated, and stressed for some good and for some not so good reasons.
As I’ve worked to be present I’ve notice my desire for these old habits returning. I’ve found myself tempted by cigarettes and marijuana more than a few times.
So recently, I made a choice. I knew I needed to relax my high ideals and give my inner rebel some room. And that’s why I decided to start eating meat.
You see for me eating meat is a lot like smoking. Eating meat feels kind of wrong to me, but I also enjoy it.
It was funny, but the first time I bought meat, I felt guilty and nervous. But as soon as I walked out with the package, I felt better. I felt better because this small act helped me release the pressure my inner ruling council had placed on me. It helped me relax and honor one part of myself, but without falling back into the bad habits I once had.
This whole experience has reminded me that it’s essential for each of us to honor our own unique inner rebel. And I want to offer you a few simple tips to help you get started.
How to Honor Your Inner Rebel
1. Realize Rebellion Is Necessary –
We all have a ruling council that can be a bit demanding at times. The result of this is a slow and subtle build up of pressure in our lives that leads to anxiety, depression, and stress. While our ruling council usually has our best interests at heart, it needs to be balanced by our inner rebel.
The keys to striking a balance are listening to and accepting this inner rebel. By asking yourself questions like: What does your inner rebel care about? What does it find satisfying? And what would happen if you gave it a little bit of space to play?
2. Negotiate an Accord –
Whiles it’s probably inadvisable to give your inner rebel everything it wants, that doesn’t mean you can’t compromise. Take whatever action you inner rebel wants the most and ask how damaging it would be to indulge it just a little bit. Often we can give our inner rebel a little taste without falling over the edge. If this is the case, then go for it, but be careful to set clear boundaries and stick to them.
At other times, it’s better to not give in to our rebel’s desires. If you have any doubts about your ability to feed it skillfully, or if the actions it desires will cause harm to yourself or others, then don’t give in. Instead, take some time to brainstorm some other possible solutions.
The alternatives don’t have to be perfect, just similar enough to be satisfying. If your inner rebel wants to go to a strip club, maybe you can just watch a sultry movie instead. If your inner rebel wants you to eat a quart of ice cream, what if you ate have a pint of fro yo instead?
Remember the goal isn’t to come up with a perfect solution. The goal is to come up with a reasonable compromise that will allow you to honor your inner rebel while still making a skillful choice.
3. Pay Attention –
Once you find something that’s workable, try it out and pay attention. How does eating fro yo make you feel? What about it is satisfying? At what exact point do you feel more relaxed or satisfied? What if you stopped right at that point and went no further?
Notice anything that comes up for you and how engaging in the rebellious act changes it. If it relieves the pressure great! If you still feel the pressure, get curious about why it’s there. If you feel guilty notice that and ask if it’s necessary.
Again the intention isn’t total relief from the voices of your inner rebel or inner ruling council. Instead, it’s to create enough space for every part of you to exist while still maintaining some level awareness and control.
4. Be Willing To Let Go –
The real danger of any coping strategy, whether it’s smoking or eating is that it will become habitual. These kinds of habits form quickly so it’s essential that you see this as a momentary indulgence rather than a long-term solution.
Notice when your behavior starts to become unconscious and be willing to let it go as soon as it does. This doesn’t mean that you stop listening to your inner rebel it just means that you find a more skillful way to offer it space.
Nothing Lasts Forever
As for me, I don’t think my new meat eating habit will last forever. While I do enjoy meat, I still feel the internal conflict when I go to the store to buy it. I still know that it would personally feel more inline with my integrity if I didn’t buy it, but I also know that in the short term eating meat is workable solution that my inner rebel and me can agree upon.
What compromise will you and your inner rebel come to?