You wake up one morning and begin to get ready for your day. As you get dressed that unmistakable feeling of frustration and even shame start to creep through your veins. You can’t stand the way you look in your clothes and you feel like crap (you even tell your significant other how crappy you feel). Then on another day (may be even the next day) you wake up and feel amazing! You get dressed and love how all your clothes fit. Your body is amazing and you’re ready to take on the universe!
Yep, I know. I’ve been there too. Popular media would love for you to believe it’s because you’ve lost weight because then you would buy more of what they’re selling. But here’s a little secret to save you some money:
You don’t really feel better about yourself because your body is shrinking. You feel better about yourself because of the quality of the thoughts you allow to reside inside your mind.
I’m super duper careful (and a bit neurotic) about the messages I allow to occupy my mental real estate.I subscribe to zero magazines, have stopped watching almost all TV, and I’m insanely picky about the instructors I take fitness classes from. But as much as I try to keep my little world free of negative messages, I am never totally immune from them all.
Earlier this week I decided to step out of my comfort zone and take a non-yoga class.
I had no idea what to expect. In fact the only reason I took the class was because an instructor friend of mine was teaching.
It was a fun and challenging class. My arms were killing me but I kept moving forward even though I wanted desperately to lie down in savasana…. Wait, oh yeah, not yoga…..
I was enjoying the intensity and the novelty of doing something other than yoga until the inevitable happened.
Body shaming disguised as motivation.
As we were all doing an exercise to work out our triceps, my friend/instructor enthusiastically called out,
“Come on ladies, you don’t want to get those bingo arms do you?”
My heart cringed but I carried on. Years of hearing these body shaming statements during workouts never seem to make them any less jarring. I’m super sensitive and I’m the first to admit it.
As the body shaming comments continued to flow until the end of the class, I nervously joined in the subtle giggling that ensued from the other woman around me. Were we laughing in agreement with the instructor or were we laughing as a way to deal with the negativity?
I was laughing because of the latter.
It’s crazy to think that during a moment where I felt strong and was having fun taking part in a physically challenging class, a simple statement would send me to negative-ville; far from the awesome sauce I was eating up merely seconds before.
My only save was this simple yet effective question:
How is this serving me?
Answer: it’s not
Solution: Let it go.
Replacement Thought: Focus on the strength in my arms. Focus on the joy I felt to be in such an awesome class with great people.
Did you know that every single day we have between 50,000 – 70,000 thoughts running through our mind? And guess what else? Research has discovered that of these many thoughts, 80% of them are negative. But these negative thoughts are not simply born out of our own mind; they're derived from negative messages we either hear or read during our daily lives. These negative messages penetrate our mind and we allow them to occupy our mental real estate. They become part of the story we believe about ourself.
Take a moment right now and think of how many negative messages you have heard so far about your body today. Marketing in almost every industry attempts to make you feel less than and unworthy; thriving and profiting on your insecurities and perceived shortcomings. And there is no greater insecurity for us females than our appearance and size.
I recently discovered a great blog post where a woman actually totaled up the number of negative body messages she heard in a single day.
By the end of a single day, she had read and heard 1,058 negative messages about her body.Yes, that many. I don’t know about you but I think that’s completely wack!(Read the entire post HERE)
So how are we supposed to protect our mental real estate from being taken over by these negative and harmful messages and may be even have more mornings where we wake up and feel amazing?
Simply ask this question anytime a negative message presents itself:
How is this serving me?
And if you think body shaming is a good way to motivate yourself to workout or push harder, here is a lesson from Dr. Wayne Dyer,
“You cannot remedy anything by condemning it….You cannot attract attractiveness into your life by hating anything about what you’ve allowed yourself to become."
Now, I have a question for you. What beliefs do you have about yourself that are NOT serving you? What stories do you tell yourself that are NOT serving you? Guess what? It's time to make like Frozen and let it go. See you next week!
Navigating the Murky Waters of Body Positivity, Thin-Privilege and Eating Disorder Recovery: Part Two