“I’m so fat.”
“I’m such a loser.”
“My face is so ugly.”
“My hair is the worst.”
“I can’t do that because…”
If I had a dime for every person who said those things and so much worse in my presence…
I’ve often pontificated about the danger of weaponizing words, particularly against yourself. That if you routinely disparage yourself (even in the name of faux ‘self awareness’), you’ll never have a problem disparaging others. The more routine these words that diminish and disrespect that gift that is YOU, the less likely you are to rise from that place and truly find out what it means to practice self care.
I routinely practice with a young woman who talks to herself a lot. The first time I heard her do it, I was so surprised because I thought she was talking to me. She looks in the mirror and scolds herself. Sometimes, it’s encouraging. But sometimes she scowls at her reflection and calls herself names and demands that she get it together. It’s heartbreaking. How can she expect to succeed, to REALLY succeed if she is literally her own worst enemy? In getting to know her, I’ve found that she’s full of as much love as she is piss and vinegar, but most of the latter is directed toward herself. She saves the love for the rest of us. I don’t know her story, so I don’t judge. And I’m not close enough to her (yet) to inquire. But it’s definitely on my mind.
She is an extreme example of what many of us see as routine daily discouragement. Scowling at a pimple or the size of a midsection or the way some particular article of clothing fits becomes daily diminishing behavior. What happens when we see things as they are, with compassion and kindness? The pimple is a result of inflammation, so rather than declaring it the enemy… ask what your skin needs to take the inflammation away. The midsection is the result of circumstance… so rather than declare your body the enemy, ask it what it needs to find balance. The clothing is a non-issue. Don’t wear it. The mind is a powerful thing. It can give rise and magnitude to things that are of little to no consequence. Those things can threaten to swallow us in an infinite hole of despair and disgust for this amazing gift that is our bodies, our breath, and our spirit.
How do we rise? By seeing the disparaging action (when it occurs) as it is, and making the conscious choice to change it every time we feel the urge to twist the verbal knife. I don’t believe that making one grand intention will solve things for the rest of time, but I do believe that each moment is an opportunity. No one is perfect, but everyone has potential. Habits are not ever broken; they are simply replaced. So by replacing insult with intelligent loving thought, we get that much closer to making self love and self care a regular practice.