Self-Compassion & the Ridiculousness of Thigh Gap
Monday, June 23, 2014
I am what some would describe as Type A personality. According to Myers Briggs, I'm an ENFJ. Astrologically I am a Sagittarius. When I was in school, I was an "overachiever" and at work I'm "driven".
I mention this because I've come to the realization that I'm a perfectionist and it's not always a healthy way to be. Although I believe there is value in pushing oneself past what is thought possible and excelling, the problem becomes when it doesn't happen...and self-destruction takes place.
My friends tell me that I am one of the most kind and generous people they know. My husband marvels and how my optometrist/dentist/hairdresse
r all fawn over me and make specials exceptions for me. He also happens to think that I am THE most gorgeous, sexy, & special woman in the universe. And the tragic thing is that I DON'T SEE IT. When I look in the mirror, I see everything that needs work. (Cue the self-criticism: My hair refuses to look nice, my eyes are too small, my stomach and hips are disgusting, these clothes are accentuating my weight gain, etc.) Now, I say all this not in some ploy to get attention and comments reassuring me of my worth. I appreciate the kindness, but the point is to share something authentic with whoever decides to read this. Why? Because I'm also realizing that thinking this way is pretty darn common. I also think that this is a key piece to my struggle with living a healthier lifestyle.
I've been working crazy hours since Easter, so for about 2 full months. The travel has been non-stop, taking up more than 4 of the past 8 weeks. My routine is blown. My healthier eating went from okay to not-so-much. I compromised while on my crazy schedule and tried to stick with a minimum of 10min/day and working on holding a plank. That worked, until I got sick last week. I chose to prioritize work over myself. And now, here I am, finally on vacation with the opportunity to start being more active and the time to cook for my family...and I have zero motivation. The drive is gone.
Of course I want to live a long, healthy life. Of course I want to be stronger and more comfortable in my own skin. But that won't happen if I don't accept myself in my own mind. I will not start or dedicate myself...to myself...if I am afraid to fail/crash and burn. Again. I thought I had eliminated the people who shamed me because I'm heavy, the people who like to place guilt trips about how much happier I would be if I would just lose weight, or the people who are downright cruel and commit heinous acts with the mission of embarrassing or putting down others to prop themselves up. But there is a voice in my own consciousness that is that awful person who constantly reminds me of every way that I'm "not good enough". Nevermind my good qualities...those obviously don't even the scales.
When said aloud....it's RIDICULOUS. But how often do we say these things out loud? How often do we instead allow that track to play over and over and over, whispering in our thoughts until we are eating something delicious just to shut it out for just a moment? What would happen if we stopped those thoughts dead in their tracks and found something, one little thing that is pleasing about ourselves? A great hair day, the way our significant other looks at us, the way a stranger smiled? What if we could find some self-compassion and set aside the rigid expectations of being PERFECT in every single aspect? That's what I'm beginning to work on. Because I KNOW how to lose weight. I've done it twice for Pete's sake!! I know the formula and know how to execute it, but none of that matters if I don't have enough compassion and grace for myself to allow mistakes to happen. As a first step, I bought a book called "Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind" by Kristin Neff, PhD. My first exercise is to write myself a letter from the perspective of someone who really knows me and has love, kindness, and compassion for every aspect of me. Confession: I don't want to do this. And I'm not entirely sure why but I'm certain that I need to in order to grow and become the person that I want to be.
I want to see myself with the eyes of the people I surround myself with. In fact, I'm blown away with their perspective. Just yesterday my husband and I went shopping with his kids for their stay with us this week. As we walked around Costco, my 6-year-old stepdaughter who is as thin as a beanstalk was tickling me and squishing my tummy. I am very self-conscious about this part of my body and wasn't loving that she was playing with my "bellyfat". In fact, just 20min prior a comment about "thigh gap" had caused me to tear up. (Which I know is such a stupid trend...thigh gap, who came up with that?!?!) But I didn't say anything and just tried to focus on us having fun. Anyhow, we got to the checkout line and my little girl gave me a great big bear hug and said that I am skinny just like her. LOL I have no delusions about this, but the fact that she sees me through that lens of acceptance strikes a certain awe in me. Her love for me reminds me that "I am fearfully and wonderfully made."
One day, I'd love to report physical results but for now I am working on accepting that I'm right where I'm meant to be in this season. I'll get there but it seems there needs to be as much attention to the inside as the outside. And in the meantime, I'm going to try to believe something my husband said, "The prettiest thing that you can wear is your smile."