Last year I realized a big change I needed to make, and a blaring kink in my system (and by system I mean myself).
I could not accept a compliment. Don’t get me wrong, most of the time I would say ‘thank you’ but then quickly I’d follow it up with a take down. For example, if someone told me how good my arms looked, I’d quickly reply by saying something about the cellulite on my legs. Or when people told me how much they loved what I was doing, saying, and writing, I’d be sure to remind them that I wasn’t always this way.
I noticed it one day, and then couldn’t un-notice it. That’s the thing about patterns - once you see them, you can’t un-see them. So I got curious about why. The truth is, it was partly a habit and partly because I was still a pretty harsh critic when it came to me. But the driving force behind it was a learned behavior - a belief that it was actually the right thing to do. Human connection is a funny thing - we all NEED it, we all CRAVE it, and we’re usually taught a list of things you should and should not do to connect with others. Not being too full of yourself, and not feeling like you are better than others rank highly among the rules of winning friends and influencing people (shout out Dale Carnegie, phenomenal book).
How about self-loathing? Gossip? Judgement? How have they become a solid foundation for human connection. I realized quickly that I was doing myself and others a disservice. I wasn’t sending a message of humility or leveling the playing field. The only message I was sending was: it’s not okay for me to love myself… therefore it’s not okay for you to, either.
Connection through self-loathing, or loathing other women, is a popular way women bond with each other. Women aren’t bad, hateful, or vindictive… most women are afraid and start getting the message that they aren’t good enough at a very young age; and this grows into bad habits, and poor connections.We’ve all seen it: Someone gets vulnerable about their lives… I feel like a terrible mother; I’m a hot mess; I’m so fat; I can’t fit in my pants; my house is always a mess; I’m not good at this… quickly women jump in for the rescue (which is a good plan) but the rescue turns even quicker to self-sabotage (not a good plan)… You’re a great mother, but me I feed my kids twinkles for dinner; you are so tiny - me, I’m the fat one…. The message is meant to make our fellow feel better but the real message sent: yes, this is how we are supposed to feel. I don’t have space to love myself, and I don’t have space for you to love yourself either.
We. Have. To. Stop.
It’s time to change the way we treat ourselves, it’s time to change the way we treat each other.
Here are the new rules:
1. When someone gives you a compliment say thank you - simple!
2. Compliment others, often. Never hold back that kind thing you were thinking.
3. When you see the self-loathing train start rolling, stop it in its tracks.
3a. Step in for the rescue and keep it all positive.
3b. Always remind people know what they’re doing well.
3c. Tell people what you love about them!
People often wonder what this whole self-love thing has to do with health and fitness. Once I lose this weight, I’ll love myself, right?! But that is working in reverse, and often times setting yourself up for failure. Working out because you hate your body, want to change your body, or dieting for the same reasons will only work in the short term - and by work, I mean, you’ll see a change in weight and then it will stop working and you’ll gain it back and then some. Digressing, feeding the harmful cycle.
The self-love route says I want to workout because I love and appreciate my body and it was designed to move; my body has always been there for me so I want to show up for it; I want to eat healthfully because that’s what makes my body feel best! This route will change the game and break the vicious cycles. This route is a road that doesn’t hit a dead-end. This route is a limitless road to better, happier, and healthier.
Sweat & Smiles,