It’s okay that I bite my lip

Would you get MAD at your car if it stopped running?
Would you get MAD at it if it stopped because it ran out of gas?

Have you ever gotten frustrated at your knee for bleeding?
What if it was bleeding because you fell on the concrete and scraped it?
Were you angry at.your.knee?  Maybe you might have been mad at the concrete?
The Obligatory Clip-Out Fall wound

Has someone ever been upset with you for eating too many cookies?
You knew you were eating in excess … but you really didn’t care at the time.
The person reminded you over and over again that you shouldn’t  binge like that.
They really don’t like the way you look when you put on weight …
so they remind you ….  you know, to “help” you.

In the case of the car, there is no reason to be mad at the car for running out of gas.
The fact that it stopped is simply an “indicator” that it has no gas.
The car isn’t the problem. The lack of petroleum is the problem.

In the case of the bleeding knee, there is no reason to be angry at your knee or the concrete.
Maybe a lack of balance caused your fall. Maybe you tripped.
Either way, the scrape is an indicator that tender flesh met rough concrete.
The knee, the blood nor the concrete are the problem. The issue should be with the fall.

And honestly ….  falls happen. They are accidents. Accidents happen. Messes happen. Life happens.

What about the cookies? Are you the problem? Are the cookies the issue? Is gluttony the catalyst for this binge.
I would offer the answer “No.”

I mentioned over here that I have participating in an eCourse through Oprah’s OWN Network that features Brene Brown as the instructor. She is leading us through her book The Gifts of Imperfection.  

Last week, the topic was The Resilient Spirit: Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness.
To be resilient is to bounce back.
To numb is to choose to do something (usually mindless) that “comforts” … though it is often not truly comforting in a soul soothing sort of way. Numbing is using a comfort in excess. It may comfort when we enjoy  small amounts to gratify, but can soon become an excessive indulgence that is not helpful. For example, a single Junior Mint patty may be a delicious treat and, yes, comforting. Devouring an entire box of Girl Scout Thin Mints while reading through your Facebook newsfeed tips toward “numbing” and is not a good thing for your soul, spirit or body.  So, a comforting action can become a mindless numbing habit.

We were to figure out what we use to “numb”
and then figure out what might be a better way to “comfort.”
I added to the challenge that I wanted to ask myself WHY I do each “numbing” action.
What was my prompt?

I am a slow digester. I read. I think. I ruminate. I think some more. Moving through things is a slow, intentional process for me.  And … in my reading, soul-searching and creative journaling last week, I had an “Aha moment,” as Oprah calls them. (Did you know that she and Brene are my bffs?  Yeah … uhm…. we haven’t gotten to meet yet but really, truly they are super friends of mine.)
My revelation last week was this: I don’t mind when I bite my lip.
That’s it.
In fact, I actually like to bite my lip.

You see, biting my lip is a habit that I’ve had since AT LEAST high school. I don’t do it all the time, but I do it.  Some people pick at the skin on their fingers, or twirl their hair, or bite their nails, or bounce their leg, or tap the table, or grind their teeth, or crack their knuckles, or chew on pens/pencils … uhm…. you get the picture. There are many nervous habits.
Some numbing habits can become serious, life changing addictions …
like addiction to porn, drinking, smoking, prescription drugs, gambling and severe overeating.

We are all broken. We all look for ways to fill voids, calm stresses and comfort ourselves.
These actions … large or small … negligible or highly illegal …. are not really the problem.
They are just symptoms of a stress, irritation or emptiness.

I knew someone who used to help me. He used to remind me not to bite my lip. He did it often … at least weekly … for years and years.  I became so frustrated with myself because I wanted to stop … because HE WANTED me to stop.

But, really … I was trying to modify my actions
to please someone else
rather than get to the root of the problem and eliminate the stress trigger.
When I think about it now, I recognize that this was wrong.
And sad. Really, truly sad.

Last week … I realized …. it really doesn’t bother me if I bite my lip.
I only tried to stop because my friend wanted me to stop.
And … he’s no longer my friend.
So …. I really don’t need to consider his likes or dislikes.
It was so exciting to come to this realization
that my “numbing” habit should not cause me stress.
I shouldn’t beat myself up for doing it, rather
I should think about the catalyst for the action.
So, rather than being angry because the car is out of gas, ask what can I do to get it moving?
Rather than being upset for having a scraped knee, ask how I can stop the bleeding and
keep tender flesh from meeting rough cement in the future?
Rather than berating myself for reaching for that bag of cookies,
search for the source of irritation that is causing me to feel the need to numb.
Let’s get to the root of the problem and solve it from the inside out.

Me :D

Honestly … I don’t care if I bite my lip. I’ve recognized before that I bite my lip when I am stressed.
I’ve even realized that I bite it mostly … when I am stressed about money.
So, really … biting my lip is my friend! It is a good thing! It is a symptom that I am stressed! It is a catalyst that screams,
“HEY! There’s a problem! Don’t ignore it! Figure it out!”
When I find myself biting my lip, I need to ask why I am upset? Am I worried over money?
What can I do to take care of the issue? How can I spend more wisely?
What frivolous items can I remove from my budget? Where am I needlessly wasting?
And if there is nothing I can do to truly remedy the situation, I need to let it go.
Give it to God and be at peace.

So, what about you? What are your numbing tactics?
Can you figure out what sends you to them?
And what truly brings you comfort?
What activities calm your soul and soothe your spirit?
Reading? Nature? Organizing? Music? Exercise? Singing? Painting?
Cleaning? Yard work? Creating? Watching movies?
Search your heart, watch your actions and seek to answer these questions
that you can use your numbing actions to bring you awareness of stress.
Then focus on solving those stressful problems
or giving them to God, if you can’t really change them.
Find ways to comfort yourself with healthy, life-affirming actions.


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