Huffpost Chicago
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Dana Joy Altman Headshot

Real Food Rehab: L I T E vs. The Real Thing

Posted: Updated:
Print

I recently had the good fortune to re-connect with some people I really jibe with. They were visiting from Columbus, Ohio for a weekend stay. The whole weekend was centered around our meals and we had lots of time to sit and talk and get to know one another better. I was noticing that spending time in their company felt really good to me. In part, it was because we clearly shared some of the same values and mutual interests.

But it was more than that. I recognized that these were evolved and thoughtful people who take their lives seriously and aren't afraid to go deep. They pursue with abandon what moves them -- they're educated and passionate. They make decisions based on how to continually stretch and better themselves. Did I mention they're also funny, great listeners and incredibly generous? Spending time with them was inspiring, nourishing and meeting me right where I lived.

There was a certain synchronicity about it because lately I've been in the process of re-evaluating my relationships to include more meaningful connections. I'd come to the realization that some of my relationships were not only no longer satisfying, but also seemed to be in direct conflict with my beliefs. Some even seemed unnecessarily punishing, and I was allowing it.

I spoke with these friends about it and having gone through a similar experience, one of them shared his new rule for allowing people into his life. "It's simple," he said, referring to an amusement park, "you've got to be this tall to ride the ride."

Bingo. That comment really resonated for me, but moreover it gave me permission to set a new and very high standard in what I expect from my own relationships moving forward.

My interactions with them really got me thinking. And not to get all Carrie Bradshaw on you but I'd like to pose a question:

If we are what we eat, then aren't we also who we spend time with?

I've hit a crucial point in my life. I no longer want to settle for anything less than what it is I truly want. And what I want is authenticity -- the real thing -- in every area of my life. And it's not as though you can simply acquire that. You have to become it, and as you do, little by little, you begin to see it reflected all around you.

It's scary, because it might mean letting go of some things, people and behaviors you're accustomed to. And just so you know, real friends, like real food, don't drain your energy in a myriad of ways. They support and nurture you but most of all they're honest. Honest as in pure, open and truthful. Honest as in reliable, trustworthy and fair. I don't think that's too much to ask for in the food you eat or in the company you keep. If you do, then you might want to ask yourself why you're willing to accept less than that.

The people you spend time with are a reflection of you. If you see something in them you don't like, your unconscious might be telling you to look in the mirror.

Full disclosure: during my own evolution I've certainly experienced incarnations of myself that were inauthentic. One of those times I recall masking my real needs by acquiring lots of stuff and being in a relationship that looked good from the outside but wasn't at all true to myself on the inside. It pains me to remember it, but I've since forgiven myself for it and learned so much from it. During those times, I was so deeply unsatisfied; it really took its toll on me both mentally and physically. I also found myself spending a lot of time trying to make other people wrong and me right, and that's a sure sign you're not being honest about something.

The other thing I've become increasingly impatient with is small talk. As I get clearer and clearer on my own needs, I realize I'd rather chew my own arm off than make small talk. Hey, I'm a Deepster; I enjoy meaningful conversation. No apologies. Small talk to me is the equivalent of eating foods labeled L I T E - that's marketing-speak for fake or lacking in substance.

If you haven't noticed yet, once you start to change something in your life, it naturally triggers more change. I call it the Domino Effect. This is an integrative process. You start by eating more real food and you experience the difference. It's physically palpable but also symbolic. Next thing you know, you're examining your relationships, then your work, then your living space. See, once you go Real, you never go back.

(c) 2009 Dana Joy Altman, Real Food Rehab, inc.