Monday, September 30, 2013

The thing I feel the most shame about and the hardest lesson I am learning

While visiting Salt Lake City for a phase of continuing education and training back in May, I realized that every time I go there, I always put on what I call "My Utah 5." The extra 5 pounds that I have the hardest time avoiding while I am surrounded by family, friends, and fun.

I noticed one day that when ever I walked past the mirror, I would have some kind of negative thought; "Look at how fat you are getting," "Your disgusting," "What a heifer!" "I can't believe you let your self get like this"... blah blah blah.

We all have been there. Those moments of such self loathing.

I have no pride in feeling these things. If fact, all I feel is shame.

But if I were to actually admit how often I have self hate thoughts about my body, you might be shocked and probably would never believe me.  I know I am not alone out there, so I am swallowing my shame and fear of sharing in hopes to give strength to some who need it.

I have always considered and understood that I am extremely hard on myself about my body. I have a few ideas of where that has come from. Probably all those years in ballet class feeling like I didn't measure up to the "thin" and "talented" ones. I don't know how any of us ladies do not have issues after junior high, let alone surviving high school. I have done many studies and research papers on the effects of media on woman and children, so I know there is a lot there. Also, I don't like to think this, but the industry I am in has certain demands and expectations on appearance. This list could go on and on.

Because of this knowledge and self awareness, I feel I am double shamed at myself. I should know better than ANYONE what to be grateful for.

After my Big S I swore I would remember the lessons that I learned and to practice them daily. This lesson I feel has been my hardest: Being grateful for my body...that works. No matter what it looks like.

I can (just to name a few): brush my own teeth, shower on my own, pick up a penny, undue a button, untie (still very difficult) and tie a knot, zip a zipper, eat with a fork and knife, swallow my food, write the alphabet, walk backwards, climb stairs, and as of recently I can run, hop on one foot, and jump (not so well, but I'm working on it), climb a rope, and am working on doing a handstand.

All this and more I could not do and had to relearn. These are just a few of the little things I think I still take for granted at times. I also feel shame for beating myself up about looks and appearance because I am SO blessed that I have all those little things listed and more. Even that I was able to relearn these things I am tremendously grateful. I am forever humbled by those stronger than I who have lost function of parts of their body and mind. They carry on and would probably slap me silly and call me ungrateful if having the chance.

So one day I realized what the heck was doing? I was beating myself up over a few vanity pounds? For this I felt even more shame. This is so not okay! I decided no more. So when I noticed I had a negative thought, I would try to counter it by a positive thought, "You are a beautiful person inside where it counts," 'You are smart and talented" "I am so grateful to have a body that works," "I can walk up those stairs on my own" (Every time I climb a step I say "Thank you," in my heart).  

Soon after this realization and trying to implement this new rule into my life I was talking to a girl friend who struggles with the same thing. There we were chatting when she brought up how "fat she was," and how "my husband probablly doesn't even think im sexy."

When it hit me. 

How can we expect or demand people in our lives to treat us with respect, love, understanding and admiration when we can't even do that for our selves?! I was blown away by the connection that I had just made.

So I invited a few lady friends out for a girls weekend and made it a rule that we were to only practice self love for the next day and night. I did not want to hear any of my amazing beautiful friends talk negative about themselves. Did it work? If me screaming "Self Love" over their comments is considered taking an effect, then yes. I do understand that these habits of self negative talk can not be changed in a night, nor a weekend. There is nothing that hurts my heart more than hearing my fabulous, strong, funny lady friends who are also new mothers mind you, talk so poorly of themselves. I wish they saw what I see, and I am sure they would say the same to me.

I hope who ever reads this walks away with a little more self love. More importantly, the patience to be understanding in things such as this and to help make a change inside. Lets be gentler on our selves, spread the love and look inside at what really matters.

Love your body any way and say a big thank your for every step it takes you in getting you to where you want to be.

Practicing living gratitude daily,

Hillary Brown