“I’m willing to love and accept my body just as it is”.
This is the mantra I suggested for my coaching client, let’s call her Susie.
The silence on the other end of the phone is thick, from objections not yet spoken. I know Susie is not buying this and wants to ignore my suggestion. She would end our call right now if I gave her the option.
Susie shares with me what she’s thinking.
It’s not true. I don’t like the way my body looks. I have a fat ass and my arms are flabby. I’m tired of not fitting into my skinny jeans. I need to lose weight.
I’ve had similar versions of the these thoughts myself. This old voice still whispers in my ear on occasion. When I catch a sideways glimpse of my belly. When a workout feels crazy hard. Or, when life doesn’t seem to be going my way and I wonder if life would be easier if I was thinner.
A few weeks earlier, Susie was so busy throughout her day that she didn’t have time to eat. Her stomach was growling and uncomfortable, but she put her deadlines first. When the early evening came, Susie was beyond hungry. She felt so panicked that she was driven to eat whatever she could get her hands on. Crackers. Cheese. Chips. Pasta and meatballs. And then a huge bowl of ice cream. Susie ate until she felt sick. When bedtime came around, Susie felt horrible. I’m disgusting, she thought.
This is what hating on our bodies looks like. And feels like.
These body hating thoughts have a big impact because they turn into action. When we don’t love our bodies, we ignore, punish, abuse, blame, judge and criticize.
As our coaching session continued, I hear Susie quietly share I’ll love my body when I’m thin.
Her body needs to earn her love. In Susie’s mind, an overweight body can’t be loved. The love of her body is conditional.
Susie flashes back to scenes growing up with her younger sister. Her thin younger sister that always got praise and attention for being so lean. Susie may have been smart and driven, but her body wasn’t as slim as her sisters. She saw the positive attention and heard the casual compliments her sister received from family, friends and boyfriends. Along the way, Susie created her own truth. She needed to be skinny to be loved and accepted.
Hating our bodies for it’s size and shape isn’t just about having poor body image, it’s also about having poor self image. The act of criticizing and judging our bodies is an act of self loathing. We hate our bodies because we don’t believe we are acceptable just as we are.
Our resistance in accepting our bodies isn’t about the claimed 5, 10 or 50 extra pounds of weight. It’s our own resistance in acknowledging our own worth. The weight is just an illusion, an excuse if you will, to understand why we feel unlovable and at times, disgusting.
After all, 5 years ago, Susie finally reached her lowest weight. She didn’t wake up each morning feeling more loved. She didn’t put her skinny jeans on feeling like she could take on the world. She felt the same dreaded feelings about herself. She wondered if all of the diet sacrifices were worth it. Her self esteem hadn’t gone go up when the number on the scale went down.
Stop chasing the fairy tale ending that you’ll love and accept yourself when you lose weight. Each time you buy into it, you are buying into the idea that your own heart and soul isn’t worthy of love.
You have a beautiful light to share with the world. Go out and share it, with your body and your gorgeous self, just as it is.