You know the dialogue that happens in your brain. “Ughhh, I’ve gained so much over the holidays, I’ve got to lose that weight. That’s it. I’ll start that diet and go to the gym on January 1st, ok maybe the 2nd or at the latest the 6…” And in reality you have likely done this to yourself more than once. And not just at New Years and the “Christmas” holidays, but after other holidays as well.
It’s not such a little thing that causes us to repeat this pattern though; it’s our ego. Not the macho ego you may think of but the part of your brain that wants to protect you from pain, including emotional pain.
I’ve been on a journey this last year with an amazing personal coach. We’ve really dug into my beliefs around food and body image. And I’ve had some amazing “ah hah!” moments. I want to share with you the latest realization. I had no idea, until recently, that any and all negative body thoughts (or Bad Body Thoughts – BBT’s) are unresolved, supressed or repressed emotion! That’s right. Emotion not thoughts. It blew my mind!
Have you ever looked in the mirror and thought “I have so many wrinkles” or “I have got to do something about that cellulite”? And then come up with a solution? “I’ll get botox” or “I’ll go on that juice fast tomorrow and have a consult for liposuction, or maybe there is a cream for that out there…”
Before this ah hah moment though, I actually thought that the things I thought and judged about myself for were just facts. I am getting more wrinkles, I do have cellulite and shouldn’t I do something about them?
Well any of those BBTs actually started before you thought them with an emotion. I challenge (when you start to catch yourself having these bad body thoughts (BBTs) )to ask yourself “what was I just feeling before I had that thought”…and you may be surprised to hear the answer.
For centuries, we have not been allowed to have emotion (at least not too much of any emotion and especially not the negative ones). And most of my patients would easily admit this. They grew up in an era of “children were to be seen and not heard” or raised by parents who were raised within that era; or the following era where independent children were highly valued and not allowed attachment to their parents (they were ‘needy’ and that was definitely not acceptable). This conditioning has led us to push away emotions either consciously or subconsciously.
Emotion has no “fix” (and ultimately doesn’t need a fix) but it’s so uncomfortable to feel emotion that we need an escape and a BBT is perfect because as a judgement for a problem it must have a fix. And that feels better. Because what are we supposed to do with feelings and emotions? No one has ever taught us how to hold space for each other or ourselves for that matter when it comes to emotions. So over the centuries we’ve quickly and often subconsciously converted a negative feeling like anger, insecurity, sadness, anxiety, etc into a BBT then into a BBF and voila we have a plan and solution and our egos like that a lot….safe again.
But not really. Because it traps us in an unending cycle of finding fixes to all the things that are wrong with our bodies. And who says it’s wrong to be 20 pounds overweight anyways? Or who says it’s horrid to have wrinkles anyways? It’s actually more painful to have to keep beating ourselves up, creating solutions that we can never stick with because they are so restrictive and based on restricting emotions anyways. And then to fail at that plan creates even more shame and guilt and the feeling that we can never be good enough, thin enough, healthy enough, young enough, etc, etc. More feelings to stuff to become more BBT’s to have more fixes for and the cycle continues….AND THIS IS WHY THE RESOLUTION WILL NEVER WORK!
How about if you could just begin to cultivate awareness and curiosity about yourself and learn to be, just be with your feelings? If you could wake up in the morning and tune into yourself, your desires for food, energy, exercise and follow your true desire. At the core of us, we all want a peaceful, happy, satisfying life. And when we tune in, obey our true nature (to have good energy, feel alive, happy and content) we make decisions about diet, movement and lifestyle practices that support that wellbeing.
Ultimately, we CAN trust ourselves. It takes practice, patience and loving kindness towards ourselves but in the long run, its worth it. A great book to begin this practice is called Letting Go by David R Hawkins.
Take a risk this New Year. Try something totally different. Ditch the New Years Resolution. It’s grounded in a cycle that sets you up to fail. Instead, invest in yourself in a new way – everyday and learn to be with your emotion and let it go and watch and see the miracles that happen!
Yours in Radiant Health,
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