Have you ever caught yourself thinking unkind words about yourself that you would never say to a friend or even someone that you didn't really like? Or have you spoken unkind words about another person that you later realized were a reflection of your own internal struggle? Me too.
Like many of you, I have wrestled with self-worth and body image issues since I was young. I was called a "dog" more times than I care to admit, been ridiculed for being too skinny, too flat-chested, too dorky, too everything. Unfortunately, I chose to believe those comments and soon found myself staring at my body and face in the mirror with hatred and disgust. All I could see was a homely girl with frizzy hair, glasses, a flat chest, and a big butt. I even created a mantra in high school, "I'm glad I’m not pretty, because I actually had to develop a personality." I used that mantra a lot throughout my younger years. (Yes, I fully acknowledge that it was not a nice mantra for anyone involved.)
And I still struggle with self-worth today. I’ve used food to cope with loneliness and to “fix” me, and I’ve believed that when I’m prettier with a better body, then all will be right in the world. Through a lot of practice and patience, I’ve become more aware that I don’t have to wait until I’m “fixed” to live my life fully. I believe that for you too. Why? Because there’s nothing to fix. Breathe that in… there is nothing to fix.
Whether we’ve been teased for being too thick or too thin, too tall or too short, too smart or not smart enough—it hurts all the same. So many of us struggle daily with our self-worth and body image, feeling guilty or shameful about what we did or didn’t achieve, or thinking that our life would be so much better if we looked like society’s current ideal of beauty. It's exhausting. So, here’s a thought, let’s work on being love—loving ourselves, embracing our unique talents and gifts, showing compassion towards others, being mindful of our own needs, and celebrating each other for our intelligence, humor, and grace. Let's encourage each other to be our best self; let's complement each other; let's rise together; let's be the person that we have always wanted to be. Let us just BE... and embrace all that is.
When you catch yourself not being love—whether it is negative self-talk or judgment of others—take three deep breaths and practice this exercise from Byron Katie. As an example, we'll use a limiting belief I hear quite often, Look at how disgusting my body is. I hate it.
Is it true? What is the reality of this? If you say it isn't true, collect one deep breath and skip to number three. Is it true that my body is disgusting and I hate it?
Can you absolutely know that it’s true? Do you absolutely know that if you achieved this/had this, then life would be better? If it's a judgment about another person, do you know what is best for their path? Is it absolutely true that my body is disgusting and I hate it? Everything about it. How I look, how I see, how I hear, how it holds my child. Is it 100% true that all of that is disgusting and I hate it?
How do you react when you believe the thought? Where do you feel it in your body? What other thoughts follow that thought? How do you treat yourself or others when you think that? When I believe that my body is disgusting and I hate it, I feel small. I feel my shoulders collapse and my heart feels heavy. I don't want to go to my child's soccer game, because I don't want to embarrass them or have other people see me this way. Then, I feel guilty for not going, because I'm not there to support them and share their celebration or defeat. They keep asking me if I'll come next time. I'm a terrible parent.
Who would you be without the thought? Imagine yourself if you didn’t think that. How would you treat yourself or others? How would you feel in your body? What would you do in life without that belief? If I didn't think my body was disgusting or that I hated it, I would feel light... and free. I'm actually smiling just thinking about it right now. I'd cheer my child on at their soccer game, and we'd talk all about it on the way home. I'd be there to really support them, no matter how their day turned out. I think they'd really like that. Sometimes I'm afraid they think I don't care. I'd also get to speak with the other parents and maybe meet some new people while I was there. Oh, and that book club I've been wanting to join.... there are so many things I haven't been doing.
What is the exact opposite of the thought? This turnaround can take many forms, reflecting back on you or someone else that is involved in the belief. My body is beautiful and I love it. Or, if you have the belief, because someone else made a comment about your appearance, then a turnaround could also be, That person is unhappy with their body and they reflected that onto me.
What is more true? Is the opposite thought more true? Give examples as to why the opposite thought is more true. You may find that it is hard to 100% agree that the opposite thought is more true, because you've been having this negative thought for so long. For example, maybe My body is beautiful and I love it, doesn't feel honest to you. That's okay. However, My body is disgusting and I hate it, doesn't feel true either now. So a more true turnaround for you may be, I accept my body. It does amazing things. It's my body. Please remember, progress is progress when it comes to dismantling old thought patterns, even if that means meeting in the middle.
This practice may feel awkward at first. I get it. Inquiring about your thoughts without judgment isn’t easy. And this exercise won't magically make every negative thought or judgment about another person go away for good. Even a non-judgmental self-love wizard will have their negative voice and thoughts creep in from time-to-time. It's all good. The sweet spot of this practice is that the negative thoughts or judgments will become less and less, so you have more energy to share all that love, sweet thang.
I’d love to know what has helped you be more loving towards yourself and therefore towards others? What has helped you be less judgmental of others? Please share in the comments below.
If you found this post helpful, please share it with your loved ones.
With love (so much love), Steph