(The following post is very similar to one I wrote called, “You look great“. Check it out!)
As I bounded down the steps and out the front door on Sunday afternoon, an acquaintance I haven’t seen in a few months was just stopping by with two other friends of mine and my partner. The acquaintance said, “Megan! You look great! You’re really dropping the pounds.” For a split second I was stunned, but smiled and said, “Thanks. I feel healthy and happy.” That’s my standard phrase whenever anyone mentions my weight. In reality, my weight has not changed at all since I last saw that individual. But, I AM feeling happier and more at peace, so perhaps what came across on my face was not lost weight, but lost emotional baggage.
But during that split second of stunned silence before I responded, my inner critic had a lot to say: “She said ‘great’ and ‘lost weight’ in the same sentence. So, she must mean that you only look good when you’re thin. Also, since you haven’t really lost any weight at all since you last saw her, she probably thinks you look fat and just wanted to throw you a compliment. You really should lose some weight. You’ve been stagnant for months.”
Whew. I’m amazed at the speed at which my inner critic rattles off all the old messages I once believed in. And, as long as I’ve been cultivating a more gentle, loving voice that can counter all that negativity, I still struggled on Monday to turn down the volume of the critic. All day yesterday, I kept hearing things like, “You really ARE fat. You really DO need to lose weight. You’ll feel better if you lose weight. You’ll be even happier than you are now if you lose weight. Don’t eat any ____ today; it’ll just make you fatter. Make sure you exercise really intensely today; maybe you can drop a pound or two by the end of the week.”
Thankfully, my self-compassion came back “online” by last night: “Megan, you are healthy, beautiful, and strong. You are in tune with your body’s needs. You regularly listen to your need for hydration, rest, nutrition, and play. It’s okay that you sometimes overindulge. No one is perfect. You will NOT be happier just by losing weight. You know what makes you happy. When you’re engaged in those things, you don’t even think about your weight or shape. You’re just mindfully enjoying life. So, be kind to yourself. And remember that you are special and you are loved…not for what you look like, but for who you are.”
Anyone else out there hear these kinds of conversations in your head? How do you show yourself compassion when that critic tries to take hold?
Remember this: You are special. You are loved.
Peace, joy, and health,