Wholehearted living. A life where we feel connected to our life purpose, where we feel joy, happiness and where we saunter down the street loving the skin that we’re in. A life where we have compassion towards ourselves, where we are not afraid to be who we are, where we believe we are more than enough, where we own our story and where we truly feel beautiful from the inside out. Wholehearted living is something we all strive for. But the reality of it is, it doesn’t come over night all wrapped up in a pretty little box for us to open the next morning (dam it!!). It is a lifelong journey of ups and downs where along the way, self hate can rear it’s ugly head. It will start to whisper in your ear “you will never be good enough”, “do you really think you can wear that? Just look at your chunky thunder thighs”, “He will never truly love you if you don’t start losing the pounds”, “you’re not worthy of him”, “you can’t really love yourself, just look how big you have got”, “you’ll never be good at your job”….
And it feels like the heaviest of blankets, holding you down where you can’t seem to get out from under it. I would stand there for what would feel like an eternity in front of the mirror, eyes darting from my legs to my arms to my stomach, while pulling and pushing on my skin to hide it from view and being swallowed up by the words that have followed me for so much of my life….. “you have such fat chunky thunder thighs”…”Look at how fat your arms are and they are so ugly in photos. You should never wear sleeveless tops”….”your stomach and love handles are disgusting”….”If you want him to choose you, you have to be skinnier than her”…I wanted nothing but to hide under the sheets with an unhealthy, soul-shattering, guilt inducing plate of brownies and wallow in my own self pity party. And I would. Only to then find myself in the bathroom throwing it all back up again as it was the only form of control that I thought I had. Not only would this hurt the waistline that I was so desperate to lose, but it also destroyed my soul.
For years it was a viscous cycle. One that was inside tearing me apart yet I was able to also hide it from the outside world. (oh, and by the way….locked up internal demon secrets….’AINT good for your gorgeous soul!)
So how do you stop this cycle? How do you move through these moments?
How do you go from being ashamed to look at yourself in the mirror to feeling ALIVE, where you celebrate every moment in life?
It’s not easy. It takes work. A lot of dirty, sweaty work. But it can be done so that when the nasty woman tries to swander on in again throwing out self hate vibes like confetti, you can confidently and gracefully shut the door on her. And pronto.
When I would be cloaked in self hate, my way of dealing with it was not only binge eating, but through punishing my body with vigourous exercise, crazy fad diets that stripped my body of nutrients it so badly needed (72 tons of cabbage soup doesn’t put that spring back in your step!) all the while screaming “I am beautiful” and “I love myself” mantras from the rooftops. A constant viscous cycle. And I don’t know what was worse – the nights binge eating, running like a hampster for punishment, the restrictive diets that made me bloat, fart and crazy, or the bunch of lies I was telling myself from a place of negativity hoping that if I repeated them enough I would start believing them.
So I had to find a way to break the cycle, to do it differently. And when I finally stopped the scramble and took a deep breath, I was able to create actionable steps that enabled me to to get closer to the life I was craving for.
So here are my 5 steps that I use to move through the waves of negative self talk, to stand up to the never good enough and get back into my groove towards wholehearted living:
1/ Become aware of what the negative self talk is saying. What are the self sabotaging thoughts? Listen and become aware of the chatter. What are you saying to yourself?? Is this the picture of yourself that you want to project to the outside world?
2/ Change that talk. Have Self Compassion. This for myself is the most important step. So many people simply say “just repeat the mantras you are worthy, you are beautiful, that you love yourself!”. Sorry, but this doesn’t bloody work when you are down in the dumps. If you are having a good day, such mantras may help. But when that nasty woman has turned up for breakfast, it’s counter – intuitive and only makes her stronger. This is because, while you are trying to scream from the rooftops “I am beautiful, I am worthy” practically forcing ourselves to change our thoughts, she is sitting there next to you sipping her cup of tea saying “No your bloody not, your seriously fat, ugly and you’ll never be good for anyone”. And the more you try to fight her, the more powerful she can become with the “yes I am”, “no you’re not” argument. And the reason? Is because for soooo many years we have been telling ourselves that same old “I’m not good enough story” and it becomes ingrained in our subconscious. And when we are so down in the dumps, we don’t believe that we are beautiful, we don’t believe that we are good enough. And her words just overpower our own. In such a moment, our self talk not only has to be compassionate towards ourselves, but it has to be believable, it has to make you feel good. So for example. If my nasty woman is telling me that I will never be enough because I am too fat, I no longer just start saying to myself “I am enough and I am skinny, I am enough and I am skinny” because I don’t really believe it. All I say now in such a moment is “I know that I do not feel comfortable in my skin today BUT, the small steps I’m taking are progressing me towards my healthy goal”. Or “I know that you keep saying I am not good enough, BUT I am surrounded by people who love me for who I am” and then simply close the door to her. Notice a few things. I acknowledge how I am feeling without judgement, the sentence is compassionate, it is believable and it also has the word BUT in the middle. Having BUT in the sentence is a great hack for the mind as it negates what is said at the beginning, redirects your thoughts and all your subconscious remembers is the latter of “the small steps I’m taking are progressing me towards my healthy goal”. This is a much more positive and believable statement and this positivity is what we want to be ingrained.
3/ Write down what you are looking forward to that day that makes you feel good and what you are grateful for. Writing down what we are grateful for is very powerful. It enables you to focus on what is truly precious in life, such as the wind on our face, the people and family around us, the warm clothes on our backs, running water. Follow this up with something that you are looking forward to that day. What can you do that will make you feel good, strong and allows you to love yourself just that little bit more? It could be doing some artwork, or going for a long walk through the grass, getting creative in the kitchen with some healthy meals, meeting up with a friend sipping coffee all afternoon or even some meditation. How about dressing impeccably, or in yoga pants with your favourite hoodie (my personal fav!), or wearing your hair out for the day? I always make sure it is something that I do that will make me feel alive and where I can feel the beauty around me. Such as making a beautiful meal and then photographing it, buying some flowers to brighten up the house, or I will go and get a pedicure, or go for a walk in the beautiful gardens near me and soak up the environment, or simply lie on the couch and read a good book. Surround yourself with the things that make you feel good, and strong, and peaceful, and free. It will rub off on everything you do.
4/ Take time to smile! Close your eyes for a moment. And then smile :-) Even when you feel like you have to force it. Just keep smiling (remember, no one is watching!) and smiling. You will find that you will start to giggle to yourself. And then smile some more, as hard as you can! You will feel you energy start to lift, your inner vibrations start to lift.
5/ Remember that you are not your thoughts. Our thoughts are simply waves that come and go and another very important step that I have learnt over the time is that I am not my thinking. I would get so cought in in this cycle of over-thinking and negative chatter that it was bloody exhausting, creating constant negative feelings towards myself that I believed. What I learnt to do was settle down the chatter, by allowing the thought to come and go, without judgement and redirect my thoughts to something else. Somedays this can be easier than others, but when you realise that the thoughts will simply pass through and if you don’t judge it, don’t stop it for a chin wag, just redirect your focus towards something else, your mind will settle. And when it comes back again, rinse and repeat :-)
Then get up, slowly rub your body with your favourite moisturiser and put on your favourite tunes (I turn up Justin Timberlake “Can’t stop the feeling” or Jason Derulo) and dance, laugh and sing your heart out like no one is watching. Move those so called “Bingo Wings”, shake that ass and kick start those feel good endorphins!! But if you are not ready for getting your grove on (and this can happen), then grab your headphones and go for a walk and soak up the beauty around you, with the sun and wind on your face.
Loving our body and living a wholehearted life is a journey – a life long journey and we are going to have days where we simply do not love our body.
But it is OK.
Because we are prepared.
We give the nasty woman a wave as she comes running over.
Say thanks, but no thanks.
And gracefully shut the door.
And give ourselves the compassion and love that we need.
A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life – Christopher K. Geermer