I've come to the conclusion, through listening to people and reading blogs, that often, we are quite unkind to ourselves. We treat ourselves in a way we would never *dream* of treating another person... a stranger, much less a friend. The mental putdowns when we look in the mirror or shop for clothes or get on the scale do not do us any good. Really. Why not be kind and compassionate to ourselves?
Angela walked into Walmart one day to buy some clothes and food. She was in the Plus-Sized section trying to find size 24 jeans when an older lady... a grandma type... strayed off the aisle and over to Angela. "You are much too pretty to be so fat," she said. "Honey, you really need to lose some weight. You are killing yourself, not taking care of yourself." Angela stood, frozen in time, her mouth open in disbelief, one hand on her cart and the other poised holding the jeans she was about to try on. The old lady reached over to the cart and patted her hand. "Stop eating fried food and candy, take a little walk once in awhile. Try having some salad for lunch, you'll be surprised how much better you'll look in no time! Life is too short to stay fat, honey." And she walked off.
Was she kind? Was she nice?
Not really. Angela was a stranger. While the granny couched her words in concern and helpfulness, she was really telling Angela that a) her weight and looks were unacceptable, and b)she was lazy and overindulgent. I don't recall Angela asking to be assaulted with advice, either.
Angela put the jeans back on the rack. A tear slid down her face as she hung her head, turned, and walked away. She had been so proud, so excited to buy those size 24 jeans. She had never fit into anything under a 26 before and had worked so hard to lose 40 pounds. When she walked into the store, she'd felt slim and confident. But the reality, as so cruelly and bluntly pointed out by the elderly stranger, was that she was still a big, fat, failure.
Do you see how words and thoughts can deeply affect a person's perception of ones' self?
Yes, we should be kind to others. Absolutely, we should not make assumptions about ANYONE we see. And if we do, we should keep our mouths shut. Compassion doesn't cost anything. It is FREE.
But shouldn't this extend to our self-talk, too? Why is it ok for us to look in the mirror and say, "I'm so FAT! I hate how I look!" or to look at the scale, stuck on a plateau, and say to ourselves, "I am SUCH a failure! I can't do anything right." Isn't compassion even *more* necessary when dealing with the person we are closest to: ourselves?
There is a fine line between enabling and encouraging. If we look at ourselves and say "oh, it's ok if I don't lose weight. I will do it next week, I am not THAT fat" and use that as an excuse to keep on eating junk and doing nothing to reach the goals we set regarding our weight and health, THAT is enabling. It is putting our heads in the sand so we can eat burgers and milkshakes and still pretend we are happy with ourselves and everything is okay. But if we look at our behavior and say, "Okay, I am proud of what I have done so far but I do need to work harder," that is encouraging. It is a tough thing to learn: loving ones' self without accepting and settling for the things we truly do want to change.
We can change our bodies and our lives without flogging ourselves emotionally. Do push yourself, but don't insult yourself. Do try to do better, but don't discount the efforts you've made already. Look for change while loving the You that you are *right now.*
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