I’ve been pondering the feeling of ownership lately. Ownership is about a sense of control and a sense of authority. It’s about power and decision making. Ownership over your own life is really important. While it’s technically possible to get all of your needs met without it, it makes the trust factor very difficult unless you submit all control and have someone or something or a system in place that you can trust implicitly. If that system fails, though, it’s still up to you to find something that works, and so there goes ownership again. But if you’ve been dependent all your life and suddenly the system fails, chances are you won’t easily step up to own the situation. And so for the sake of a robust system, I choose to develop the skill of ownership as much as possible.
What is appropriate ownership? Where are the boundaries? What’s stepping out of line? Let’s start with, you have ownership over anything that is yours. If it’s not yours, you don’t own it. So what is yours? You have possessions. Those are yours and you are in control of them. You choose where they belong, what they’re used for, who can use them and when. They’re yours. You don’t have to share, and if somebody takes them from you, they’re out of line. That said, if you want to keep your possessions, it’s your job to defend them.
Now let’s extend the concept of ownership beyond possessions. You are responsible for making sure that your needs are met. You own your own needs. What does that look like?
Fuel. Ownership of what you eat and how you nourish your body is about having preferences, and having the ability to choose what you eat. It might mean listening to cravings and disgust, or it might mean choosing what diet you want to follow. It’s freedom and liberty to make your own decisions about what goes in your mouth. It’s the opposite of being told what you have to eat (Eat your vegetables! Finish your plate!) or what you can’t eat (No salt! Sugar is bad. Limit your calories. Low fat. Low carb. No red meat. No antinutrients. No processed foods!) It’s the opposite of food regulations that prevent you from consuming what you want to consume (raw milk, undercooked meat, locally butchered meats), or being forced to consume something you don’t want (pesticides, preservatives, artificial color and flavoring, GMOs).
Engage your Mind. Ownership of how you engage your mind means choosing your own interests and projects, and choosing what you want to work on and when. It’s the opposite of being told what to learn or where to work or clickbait. It’s the opposite of zoning out in front of the TV, watching whatever comes on next. It’s freedom and liberty to say what interests you and what you want to be doing with your time.
Movement. Ownership of movement. I’m going to have to come back to this one. Freedom and liberty. Is it about being free from reflexes? Is it about developing at your own pace? Is it about moving your own way, when you want to? Is it the opposite of being stuck inside or stuck in a desk? The opposite of being forced to run or forced to do something you don’t want to be doing? The opposite of moving on someone else’s schedule?
Rest. Ownership of rest would be about choosing when you take a break and how long of a break you need. It’s going to bed when you’re tired and sleeping as long as you need. Ownership of your space is choosing what goes in it and how it’s organized and decorated – your possessions. Having ownership of your emotions means being able the express them in a method of your choosing, as needed. Ownership of your mind means you are in charge of how it’s organized. Others can listen, but they can’t tell you how to think or what’s right and wrong. It’s the opposite of being forced to share, of not having your own space, of forced apologies and holding back tears.
Connection. Ownership of connection is about choosing who you spend time with. Choosing your social environment, and the culture in which you’re living. It’s the opposite of your parents choosing your friends, or living somewhere with a culture that just doesn’t fit who you are.
Separate from the needs, I’m thinking about timers. When you set a timer for yourself, you’re owning how you use your time, but you’re not really owning meeting your needs. If you’re deeply involved in a project and loving it and the timer goes off and you have to stop and dig yourself out into a different mental state – maybe to go eat lunch, that’s something. It’s not having full ownership over how you engage your mind. You’re not eating because you’re hungry, you’re eating because you should. Which might not necessarily be a bad thing, but I think it should be distinguished.
The common theme coming through is that ownership is about freedom and liberty, and it’s the opposite of external control. Rational thought still feels like a form of external control on this one to me. Which isn’t to say that it’s bad or unnecessary, just that it’s not the same as total freedom and liberty. We’re caught in a major transition time period of history. Just the fact that this blog is interesting is an indicator that we can’t trust all of our instincts and we need/want to be doing personal work to grow from how we were raised. Rational thought and control is a critical tool for that process. I would argue, though, that a few generations out, when we are so well practiced at getting our needs met first and foremost, and it’s been completely ingrained into our limbic systems and society, it would be totally instinctual and we wouldn’t need the rational control anymore. And timers might seem ridiculous.
Fuel is about nourishing your body. First and foremost, you need calories in order to keep your energy up and your body running. Getting a meal on the table, having snacks (if you believe in snacks) and being confident in the process. Closely behind calories, you need nutrients as well. There may be some debate about which nutrients and what amounts and how to get them, but remember, what matters here is trust. So whatever diet you believe has the best balance, this need is about eating that diet. Finally, there’s digestion. If you aren’t digesting well, eating the absolute perfect diet for you won’t get you the nutrients you need.
Remember, that to balance your nervous system and be healthy, it’s important to trust that you’re getting the fuel you need. So if you believe in a low carb diet, it’s important to not be eating carbs. If you believe in a raw diet, it’s important to follow that diet, and if you believe in a paleo diet, it’s important to follow that one.
Trusting that you’ll get the fuel you need is also about having food available and ready to eat. Access to food, and someone who knows how to prepare it, and also being able to get it on the table without stress. Whether someone is making meals and presenting them to you with no effort on your part, or if you’re the one doing every last step, stress at any point along the way is real stress that your nervous system feels.
Calories. Calories are the energy units you get from food, that your body burns to do just about anything. You need them to exercise, think, sleep, even to digest food. Fat, protein and sugars/starches are what you can break down into energy. Energy keeps your blood sugar from crashing too low, and keeps you going. Trusting that there is energy means eating predictably, and eating enough. Most adults need about 2000 Calories a day.
Nutrients. Nutrients are things like water and vitamins and minerals. Calories give you energy, and nutrients make your body work. Some nutrients are essential and must be obtained from external sources. Others are conditionally essential, your body can manufacture to some extent given the right building blocks, or can be obtained from food. And then there are those that your body can manufacture in abundance.
There are many different schools of thought as to what and how much you need in the way of nutrients. The FDA has Reference Daily Intakes for the typical healthy individual. Different countries have their own recommendations. Different diets have their own recommendations as well.
There are also the actual nutrients themselves and what they’re doing in your body. Maybe you don’t believe humans need iron, but without it you *will* become anemic. Maybe you’ve never heard of methylation and detox pathways, but without B12 there will be consequences.
Digestion. You can be eating the best fuel on the planet, but if you can’t digest it, you’re not getting the benefits. Digestion is the act of breaking down food into it’s components so that you can absorb and use them. Digestion depends on having a good amount of stomach acid, bile, digestive enzymes, and calm. You digest best when your body is in “rest and digest” mode, and so calm, unhurried, pleasant, enjoyable meals will help you get the most out of your food.