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  • Wendy Lee Johnson

The River of Misery

You are standing on the shore of a river. You want to be on the distant shore. To get there, it means you jump in and start swimming.

This Shore

Where you are right now feels safer. It’s practiced and rehearsed. You have all of the habits well established. Jumping in the river means you leave all of that behind and break free for the new shore.


When I talk about the River of Misery, I am referring to real life changes. If you’re looking to lose weight, this is not about dieting. That’s the River of Restriction. That river involves jumping in, swimming for awhile and then swimming back to the same shore you started from. No real lasting change happens. You only change your eating habits temporarily.


We are talking about the work of changing our identity. These changes often feel slow and somewhat sporadic. The shifts are so small they are barely detectible. We are trying to undo the urges around food and this takes time. We are rewriting how we think about food and more importantly how we think about ourselves.

It is important to celebrate the small wins.

What do the small wins look like?

  • Eating 5 pieces of pizza on a Friday night, but not eating like crazy the rest of the weekend

  • Stopping a couple bites short of finishing a decadent dessert, because you'd simply had enough

  • Being compassionate with yourself after an unplanned burger and fries.

Every stroke in the river reminds us of our power and endurance.

Every stroke is a win. Even when we are treading water or floating to catch our breath, we are still making our way, we are still in the river.

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