I remember being 8 years old laying on the couch with my knees bent, looking down at my thighs.
Despite what I know now about my very normal sized 8-year old body, at the time, I thought I was fat and I had proof because my thighs touched.
To this day, I remember having the thought, “I wish I could just cut off the parts that were touching… then I’d like my thighs…then I’d be happy.”
It’s easy to hear a story like this and feel sorry for that 8-year old. Clearly, 8-year olds (including myself) get this message from family, older siblings, friends, TV ads, magazines and such…. so it’s easy to see how it’s not my 8-year old fault.
Yet as adults how many of you reading this right now can’t stand a part of your body?
“I despise the way my arms jiggle… I hate my thick thighs…. I get sick when I look at my stomach in the mirror”
—those are exact words I’ve heard from different clients.
The internal dialogue that goes on (sometimes obsessively), hating on your own body, is like waging war… with yourself.
And the damage cuts deep. It undermines the infinite wisdom of our bodies and disconnects us further from the possibility of healing.
While it might be true:
- there might be weight to lose
- there might be muscles that could use some toning
- there might be food addictions that need to cease
To have an internal dialogue of hate and disgust just makes matters worse. Hating on yourself will never get you to where you want to go with your body.
Why did I share that very vulnerable story I still remember from being 8 years old?
Because if you struggle with holding onto more weight than your body actually needs to be healthy, there’s a 99% chance that you use food in ways that numb and deflect the feelings and emotions that you don’t want to feel.
It’s a way of hiding our feelings from ourselves or others.
I tell you the story the of my 8-year old self because the truth is if you use food (or alcohol, sex, drugs, shopping, relationships, gambling, etc) in this way, there really ARE parts of you that didn’t get enough at some point in your life (usually in childhood).
What do I mean my enough?
Enough love, acknowledgement, encouragement, and a real knowing that we ARE ENOUGH with no strings attached.
And when these old, untouched feelings pop up, when they speak up and act out, it really feels as if they were true… as if we aren’t enough.
We believe that these old, child-like, undigested feelings are true, so they take over and we act out by over-eating, over-exercising, over-spending, etc. Anything to fill the hole. Anything to make us feel like ENOUGH.
But the truth is, food (or shopping/drugs/exercise/alcohol/etc) will never be the answer to fill the empty hole.
And what makes it worse is when we validate these old feelings with hate for our body or our circumstances.
Until we touch these parts of us with love, the cycle will never end.
If you’re still with me, then I probably struck a chord of truth in you. So then you might be wondering at this point, “What the hell do I do?!”
If food, or whatever your choice of distraction to your undigested feelings isn’t the answer… then what is?
Well, you can’t control your past.
You can’t change the past circumstances that created the false belief that you aren’t enough, or the false destructive behaviors that you learned along the way.
But you do have control over how you relate to yourself right now. When these undigested feelings come up, you can either beat yourself down:
(“I hate my body, I’m disgusted with how I look, WTF is my problem?”)
OR… LOVE YOURSELF UP.
When you catch yourself ridiculing, beating up, putting down, or disrespecting yourself, immediately shift into kindness and love.
You can say to yourself instead:
“Oh sweetheart…. I know you’re upset… and I want to hear why… no more fighting… tell me more…. I have only love and kindness to how difficult this is for you…let me put my arms around you and shower you with love”
This profound shift in our inner dialogue drops the war and begins the healing. This is where we fill ourselves up with what was missing from long ago.
It’s not easy.
It requires a great deal of perseverance, compassion, and consciousness… ALL OF WHICH can be cultivated over time.
This is but one example of one of the many ways I work my clients to get to the root causes of what’s really going on, pull those root weeds out gently, and fill them back up with the love and tenderness that’s been missing.
This is the real work: the constant daily attention given to yourself that over time has you filling up on life instead of food. This is how doing the healing inner work changes your life, and yes… your body.