When I saw the above picture for the first time, I saw only one thing. Despite the fact that this photo was beautifully composed, framed, lit and shot by my talented friend and photographer Carole Robin, all I saw, all my brain would let me see, was that roll of fat on my back.
And instead of saying, “But look at the strength in my arms or the definition in my legs,” I spiraled into self-doubt. I listened to what my scheming, negative mind was saying. And I took it out on my body.
“You have no right to be marketing yourself as a health and wellness professional,” my mind sneered.
“You aren’t fit enough.”
“People aren’t going to want to buy your programs if you’ve got back fat pushing out your bra right there in the photos.”
“You’re a total sham.”
And here’s the crazy part. I actually listened. I took what my brain was telling me as fact, and I sunk down further into self-hatred. I bathed in it. Until my fingers got pruney, and the water ran cold.
And the only way I was able to swim up from the depths was to really go within. With some help, of course. The first step is always knowing where to locate the hands that will pull you up when you feel like you’re about to go under.
I feel incredibly blessed to have a number of full-time cheerleaders in my life. One of whom is life coach, Melanie Lennon, and as we chatted about our bodies and our brains and their relationship to each other this morning, we came to a few realizations. Anyone that’s on a spiritual path of any kind has heard the word ‘compassion’ get tossed around a lot. I’m sure you’ve even heard people suggest you have it for yourself. But just compassion as on it’s own isn’t enough. We need introspection, meditation and pointed compassion, so we can send it to whatever part of us is crying out in need. We need to be able to identify what’s in pain, so we can communicate with it, and tell it everything is going to be okay. Imagine, if when we encountered these moments of self-doubt, that instead of immediately ripping ourselves apart, we stopped. Imagine if we paused long enough to take a few breaths and ask a few questions. When our brain says, “you’re fat,” what if our body was able to respond with, “Wait a second, Brain. Are you okay? Because it seems like you’re struggling. And I want you to know, I’m here for you.”
When I first saw the picture, it wasn’t my body that needed more attention. I didn’t need more cardio, or to bust out a few more sit-ups, it was my mind that was in pain. So that’s what I cared for.
I’d never thought of myself as an insecure person growing up, but I realize now that I was. I think we all are at some point. In our youth there can be a lot of hiding behind false bravado, so we forget that we feel these things at all; insecure, inadequate, unworthy. And as we get older, we stuff those feelings down. We compress them into manageable, bite-sized pieces and swallow them whole, hoping they won’t come back up again. But they do, they always do, until we face them head on.
So how did I face it? I talked with close friends about how I was feeling. I showed the photos to people I trusted. I got down on the floor and gave myself a hug, and I repeated my favorite mantra, over and over again; “You have enough. You’ve done enough. You are enough.”
I repeat that to myself when any part of me is in pain now, and I recommend you do the same. Say it as many times as you have to until you believe it. Then, when you forget, say it all over again.
There are so many parts that make up the whole of who we are. Remember to be gentle with all of them.