About 3 weeks ago, I posted that I was doing a photo shoot for some head shots. Well, I received the finished photos and they look great! Even so, I was very disappointed that I look so heavy. I felt all the same emotions I’ve been having for the last 20 years…sadness, disgust, regret, shame, embarrassment and all because of my weight. Of course, the most prominent thought was, “What will people who haven’t seen me in a long time think?” The next thought was “Who will love me at this weight?” My chest and torso began to feel tight with anxiety because of all these thoughts and emotions. It truly overshadowed the joy of receiving beautifully taken photos.
Amidst all this turmoil, I had a thought that stopped my rant in its tracks which was “Do I have to think these things?” It was the first time that I realized I don’t have to subscribe to the same old thoughts and beliefs that have fueled my shame and embarrassment in the past. Who cares what people who haven’t seen me in a while think?!?! Why be embarrassed and ashamed of myself? I haven’t murdered, maimed, tortured or been knowingly unkind to anybody. In fact, I’m dedicating my life to helping others break down their own toxic beliefs! I’ve battled an eating disorder and have become stronger and healthier. I may not be at a weight that is healthiest or pleasing to me but it’s temporary. I have the power to change through soul searching, listening to my body wisdom and treating myself with love and kindness. Most importantly, I am still changing.
This revelation was such a relief! My chest loosened up and my brain stopped its frenzied thinking. I began to look at the situation more objectively and, although, some negative feelings remain, they are quieter. The most important “take away” from this experience is that I don’t have to believe the same things I have for years and years. My beliefs, opinions and thoughts about things can change based on my experiences. Thus far, my experiences have reinforced my toxic beliefs but, what if, changing my beliefs can create more positive experiences? It’s definitely an experiment worth trying.
Want to see the photos? Click here and leave comments about the one you like best.
Do you ever wonder if there’s significance to the fact that there’s no possible way for us to see what we look like, as a whole, without the help of an EXTERNAL device (i.e. a mirror)? I think maybe it’s because we aren’t supposed to focus too much on our outward appearance but rather focus on our inner soul to achieve joy, peace and self-worth.
What do you think? The comments are open!
Many say that the law of attraction is vital to getting what you want out of life and, although, I have been a believer and naysayer over the years, I’m just beginning to really understand it. Basically, the law of attraction states that what you think and believe grows and manifests. So, if you think you’ll get the promotion, great partner, tons of money and the perfect body, you’ll get it. Seems easy, right? Then why don’t we have what we think we want?
There are a lot of reasons why the law of attraction doesn’t work but the most powerful is that what you mean and what you think can be diametrically opposed. For example, you can think, say and affirm that “you are not your weight” but if you don’t mean or feel that’s true in your body and soul then you are at odds. More importantly, the Universe gets confused and will go with what you mean/feel and not what you say, thereby, voiding the affirmation you think and say.
The trick to the law of attraction is to get your thoughts and feelings to align. This isn’t so easy because I have been on a quest to figure out how to do this for the last 18 months! What has worked for me is realizing that “I’m The Only One” has the answers (I included a link to my blog post here). If I pay attention to external forces to approve of myself, I will NEVER think I’m OK, if I let external forces define my thoughts and beliefs then I will always be misaligned.
In order to align, start by discovering what you feel and mean about yourself. Do you REALLY, deep down in your soul believe that you’re not good enough because you’re not the perfect weight or eating the perfect diet? Or is this belief a result of thoughts planted by external forces? Feelings and beliefs should drive thoughts, not the other way around. We often get it confused and let negative, externally influenced thoughts play on repeat to form our beliefs. Self-discovery into how we REALLY feel about ourselves will usually uncover that we ARE OK and that we love ourselves once we push aside the toxic thoughts. This is the stuff that makes the law of attraction work for us and get us a life filled with joy, peace and love.
Here are a few resources I like on the law of attraction:
- E-Squared by Pam Grout: http://www.amazon.com/E-Squared-Do-It-Yourself-Experiments-Thoughts-Insights/dp/B00CAYHVKQ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1401125366&sr=8-2&keywords=e+squared
- Esther Hicks Video: http://www.hayhouseworldsummit.com/home-registered-free/?vid=93299716
I’m going to continue with the body image discussion that I started over the last few days because it is such a huge, painful and elusive topic!
In the “I’m The Only One” post, I state that you are the only one who can give approval that can truly impact self-esteem. Not that others opinions don’t matter but we can’t rely on them to be the foundation of our self-worth or body image. If we did, we would never be at peace with who we are. We will never receive the approval of all 7 billion people in the world or 318,000,000 in the US. There are as many opinions about how we look and how we conduct ourselves as there are people in the world and we do not have the power to make EVERYONE approve.
We DO have the power to approve of ourselves. We DO have the power to behave with self-respect, maintain good relationships and follow our passions. We DO have the power to nourish our bodies, challenge our mind, fulfill our heart and elevate our soul. We also have the power to crush ourselves with one look in the mirror.
The choice is yours…will you choose to believe in the power of your own approval in order to create a happy life or will you turn to self-hatred and continue on a path of slow self-destruction? What will you choose?
Please see below for a comment I received regarding yesterday’s post:
“It is extremely hard for overweight people to look in the mirror. I have not had mirrors in my house for years. I finally put one 3 years ago, it is a medium size mirror which only allows you to look at your top body parts. By not looking at myself, I have put myself in total denial, but it was the only way to bear with my emotional sufferings. And even though a lot of Eastern beliefs identify our bodies as temporary vests, we still create one whole. In order to make a progress in eating it is to accept the way we look, however, it seems unbearable and extremely painful to live with what our bodies are like for today.”
This is not an uncommon reaction to mirror work and I know the pain in this comment because I have endured it myself. Mirror work is a paradox. On one hand, it is the first step in seeing our bodies for what they really are which is the only way to acceptance. On the other hand, we are more than our physical bodies meaning our self worth isn’t defined by our exterior but what exists in our soul so why put stake in looking at the shell? Hence, there is a very delicate balance here.
I suggest that the pain resulting from mirror work is not because we hate our bodies but because we are hurting in other areas of our life. Our body is the scapegoat. If our lives were fulfilled by healthy relationships, fulfilled work experiences and a peaceful mind, heart and soul, our weight will stabilize to its natural state. I know, this sounds crazy and it’s a rumor until you experience it.
Achieving this sense of peace doesn’t happen overnight and takes practice (I can help you through coaching!) so, in the meantime, feel the pain (don’t binge about it) and do your best to accept the reality. Be ferocious in defending yourself against those hateful thoughts about your body because they are not true despite what we have been conditioned to believe. Think about when you’ve been at a goal weight – were your thoughts different? Were they nicer or were you still hating on your body because your thighs were too jiggly or your stomach stuck out too much?
The idea here is to stop living in a constant state of hate, accept what is and make peace with it. I’m not gonna lie, there will be pain involved in this process but it is temporary and more easily endured than living in a constant state of hate, even when you hit the “perfect” weight.
Contact me here to learn more about Eating Psychology Coaching services!
In last Saturday’s post I encouraged you to discover what’s blocking your flow. I did the exercise and realized that my denial goes much deeper than I thought and wrote about back in March (check out that post) and that is what’s blocking my flow. In the post, I mention that, during the most severe phase of my eating disorder, I was in denial but this weekend’s exercise proved I only looked at the surface of that denial. So, to try and “unblock” myself, I took in a good dose of reality about situations where I was blind to what was really happening in relationships, with work and, most importantly, with my body.
Have you ever really looked at your body (naked and in the mirror)? I know, it’s a totally scary thing to do! Well, I really looked at mine this weekend and saw my reality and the resulting feelings ranged from sadness, confusion, pain, regret and, finally, to acceptance. I wondered…who is this woman and how did she become the way she is and looks? The answer is that I am NOT my body and my identity is not tied to my outer layer but to my inner core. I still have feelings of anxiety about my weight and appearance but, when I faced it and accepted the reality of it, the anxiety almost went away entirely!
My mentor, Marc David teaches us to “love what is” but you can only do that when you know the reality of “what is”? I challenge you to look…really look…at your life and your body to find out “what is” because only then can you accept and unblock your flow.
I’m having a photo session today to get a professional head shot taken. As you can imagine, it has produced a little anxiety and negative body image thoughts. Figuring out what to wear was challenging – I want to look professional but not stuffy, most of my clothing is dark because it hides my wobbly bits but I don’t want to look monochromatic. Then there’s the whole looking in the mirror a million times to figure out what looks good which is hard because I practice mirror avoidance – often. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I hate looking at photos of myself. Yikes!
As I’m writing this, I see a lot of negative emotions and eating disordered thoughts but then realized that mostly every woman has these same insecurities. Maybe they’re not eating disordered thoughts but womanly thoughts. Too bad we feel the need to beat ourselves up so much. Regardless, I’m going to suck it up, show up to the shoot, have a good time, act as though I know I look great and hope the photographer can work miracles…minus the photo shop!
Rebecca M. Puhl, PhD of the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity recently published an article entitled “Stigma as a (Dis)incentive for Weight Loss and Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors” addressing if weight stigmas and fat shaming are effective methods of enticing people to lose weight. The evidence suggests that the answer is no. Please see below for excerpts from the article:
“In turn, a culture of blame has been cultivated — with common perceptions that weight stigma is justifiable, and perhaps even necessary, to motivate people with obesity to become healthier and lose weight. To this end, some scholars have proposed that stigmatization is an appropriate strategy to address obesity.”
“…the issue of whether stigma might serve as a tool to facilitate improved health and weight-loss outcomes is an empirical question and one that, until the past decade, had not really been tested. There is already considerable evidence on the adverse psychological, social, and economic outcomes of weight stigmatization,[8,17,18] but now a new and growing knowledge base of evidence has examined implications of obesity stigma specifically for health behaviors, health indices, and weight loss.”
“Taken together, the emerging evidence indicates that obesity stigma contributes to unhealthy behaviors, interferes with weight-loss efforts, and reinforces obesity. There is no indication that obesity stigma would be effective as a public health tool to incentivize weight loss.”
While I’m glad this article unequivocally eliminates fat shaming as an effective motivator for weight loss, I’m appalled that this strategy was proposed in the first place. I am saddened that there are people in this world who think it’s even remotely OK to suggest a strategy based on hate and bullying to combat obesity (or anything else). Having been obese, I can attest to the fact that the self-imposed shame regarding my weight was painful enough without adding shame from others. My shame didn’t serve as a motivator, it propelled me further into despair, depression and my binge-eating disorder.
It’s unfortunate that this strategy wasn’t immediately discredited but I’m grateful that Dr. Puhl published this article so there’s no doubt that fat shaming is ineffective.