By Erin O'Donnell
I used to believe that my body’s appearance dictated how I feel about myself. Now I know that is only partially true. Now I understand that how I feel about myself is REFLECTED in what my body looks like too.
When I was fat, I felt bad about myself. Really bad. At times, I hated myself. I felt ashamed, embarrassed, angry, frustrated, depressed, overwhelmed, etc. And I thought that those feelings were my lot in life. I believed that unless I could lose weight, I’d always feel them. I believed that my emotions were dictated by my body’s weight.
Actually, I still believe that, IN PART.
If my body doesn’t look the way I want it to, feeling bad about that is a good thing. Because, those bad feelings tell me something isn’t right. And that awareness can compel me to get a solution, and that enables me to make a change.
I love the analogy Shelley gave me in a coaching session. "It's like when a baby has a poopy diaper," she said. "We don’t deny that it stinks and repels us. The smell and repulsion are what compel us to change the diaper.
When you look in the mirror or at a photo, and see something that repels you, that’s a good thing! You’re seeing something you don’t like, and that feeling can help you make a change. Just don't mistake what you're rejecting for yourself."
She was so right! When I smell something that repulses me I usually throw it away. But when a baby I am caring for is poopy, I don’t throw it away. Why? Because the baby is more valuable than that. And I know this at an intuitive level, so I am naturally compelled to change the diaper. I don’t even debate the issue. I may wish there was another way to get the issue resolved…ask someone if I can pay them to do it for me, pray the mess miraculously goes away on its own, or wish I had a magic wand, but at my core, I know the baby deserves to have her diaper changed. I know it's not HER that is gross.
So it goes with my body. When I don’t like the image I see it may be because something isn’t right. Intuitively I know something needs to be changed.
If you mistook the baby for the poopy diaper, what would you do? You’d throw the baby out. But you don’t. You direct your disgust at the thing that is harmful to the baby, and you throw THAT out.
Same with your body. It’s the fat on your body that is harmful to you. THAT’s what is disgusting you. It’s not YOU that you’re repulsed by. It’s the fat.
When I was able to understand that, it changed the way I felt about myself. I began to like myself. I started to find positive things about me. And that changed my feelings about myself into happy ones…kindness, love, understanding, compassion, happiness, courage, hope, optimism.
Because of this, I was able to take the actions that would help me lose weight. And I started to see my body reflect the positive feelings I had about myself.
It’s like I threw away the stuff that was actually repelling me--the negative feelings about myself; and then I was able to change the things that were harming me.
It’s a “both/and” situation. I won’t change something that doesn’t bother me. I must feel dislike about my weight if I’m going to change it. AND I must like myself in order to be able to make the changes. Otherwise I’ll just throw myself away, dismiss my desires, and never enjoy the precious, beautiful, amazing life that was placed in my arms like a newborn baby.
Next week, I'll share more about how positive feelings about yourself and your body can help you lose weight.
Shelley Johnson is the Creator & Founder of The Losing Coach®.