What prompted me to write about this was a profound realization I had this week. The critic that has always been a prominent voice in my head would consistently throw darts at anything productive and loving I attempted in order to change my feelings about myself. This week he started in with “No one is noticing how much weight you have lost, what’s up with that? Maybe you are lying to yourself about what you are doing. Is it really worth giving up so much?” But then a loving and nurturing voice interrupted:
“People don’t CARE about how much you weigh because who they see has nothing to do with pounds”.
Wow! For years I wore my damaged psyche like a badge…parading it out for all to see so that I could be sure you paid attention. It wasn’t until I was working with a client and realized she used illness to get attention and care that I started making connections. What we discovered together harkened back to my own childhood as one of 5…not much got you special attention with so many who needed it in the house.
It has been my life’s work for many years to help others feel cared for, safe and empowered to be themselves. You teach….you learn. It was time to heed my own counsel.
How many times have you led off a conversation with the state of your health? Ever stop to wonder why we choose an illness as subject matter to greet folks with? Why is it that we attach to our illness, past trauma etc. and parade it out in front of people as if it were all that we are? Often when I am speaking with a prospective client I do talk about many of the things I have overcome, but now it is in the past tense…they are things that no longer hold power over me. Knowing that my life has gone from “tragic to magic” circumstances builds trust but here is where the discussion about it stops. If I am always thinking of myself as a rape victim – I will mold my behavior into that which is necessary to play the part. When I began to view that as an event in my past instead of who I am, it began to lose its hold on me. Even the words I used made me a victim. “My rapist”, “my alcoholism”…when I lay claim to something in my life I will do everything in my power to protect it. That means you are not going to take it from me. It becomes who I am and leaves no room for anything else. And once I started letting go of blame, I started letting go of the need to cling to the past to protect me from the unknown. I no longer refer to the negative events in my past or illness as MY anything. They are now just things that happened.
The reason I have let go of 20 pounds in the last couple of months is because I chose to conduct a research project. I began to really pay attention to what, how and why I was eating. I journaled how I felt when I overdid things or when I got that a certain food seemed to suck the life from me. And I realized every time I put food in my mouth I was chastising myself. Every day had become an exercise in self-flagellation and I blamed no one but myself. I grabbed one of the many diet books off my shelf and started with SOMETHING. This was not the kind of life I was offering up to the world and not the one I wanted to experience either! Don’t get me wrong…it wasn’t an overnight thing. But I started paying attention, writing my feelings down, eliminating one food at a time, and doing small things like making each trip up the stairs 3 then 4 then 5. Those things added up to feelings of success…and each success began to enlarge the foundation of my determination.
So this week I challenge my readers to listen to what you are saying to and about yourself. Write it down. Would you talk to a prospective lover that way? A child?
What will it look like if you decided to speak only lovingly to yourself? What do you imagine would change?