This is one of my favorite videos on how to overcome rejection…
“The most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves is to remain ignorant by not having the courage to look at ourselves honestly and gently.” ~Pema Chödrön
All my life I’ve chased after success, as I was encouraged to do from a very young age.
When I was six, my father got me my first proper study desk as a gift for getting into a ‘good’ school. The type of desk that towered over a little six-year-old—complete with bookshelves and an in-built fluorescent light. In the middle of the shelf frame stuck a white sticky label inscribed with my father’s own handwriting in two languages. It read: “Work hard for better progress.”
Little did I know those words would set the tone for me and my work ethic for the next twenty years—until I finally began to question them.
Hard work became my ‘safe space’ whenever I felt insecure. When I struggled to make friends at a new school, felt rejected, or felt like I didn’t belong, I would put my head down and drown out my emotions out by working hard. It became my coping strategy.
My younger self didn’t yet have the emotional resources to deal with moving around, changing schools, and facing social rejection. When it became too painful, it was much easier to stay in my head than to feel vulnerable with my heart.
So, whenever I struggled to fit in at school, I just worked harder with the misguided belief that if I did well, then I would be celebrated. If I became impressive, then people would finally accept and like me.
And of course, my parents encouraged this behavior. I was rewarded for my hard work and I got good results for it too.
But outside of my home, nobody seemed to care about my results. I still wasn’t fitting in at school. I still didn’t have many friends. My strategy didn’t seem to be working.
So I worked even harder.
By the time I graduated from University, I had completely bought into society’s definition of being ‘impressive’ without even questioning it once. If it was a prize everyone wanted, I wanted it too.
My definition of being ‘impressive’ expanded to include looking good, dressing well, staying fit, and making good money in a highly-competitive field, even if I had zero passion for that profession.
By then, I’d long forgotten the reasons why I wanted to work hard to be impressive in the first place, other than “That’s just who I am.”
I was drifting further and further away from my true self, and I didn’t even know it.
For the next ten years, I spent a lot of my waking hours working as a financial analyst, studying for more degrees and certification, and chasing after the next shiny thing so I could sound even more impressive to others. Plus, I was making a decent income while doing so. Tick.
While on the surface I ticked a lot of those “impressive” boxes I had set out for myself, on the inside I felt emptier than ever. On the outside I looked successful, but on the inside, I felt like a complete failure.
What Happens When Your True Self Calls You to Come Back
Cracks started to emerge both in my work and in myself. It became challenging to fully show up for work as I increasingly asked myself: “What am I doing here?”
A soft inner voice whispered, “It’s time to get out of here, you’re not meant to be in finance. What are you doing here?” So I began questioning what I was doing with my life. I mean, if not that, what was I meant to do? I’d invested so much of my time and energy into my profession; I couldn’t just change directions. And who was this voice anyway? Where was it coming from?
My fake enthusiasm became harder and harder to keep up. This sinking feeling became more visceral by the day, and the feeling of not belonging in my workplace became increasingly obvious.
Yet I swallowed those feelings down with gritted teeth and kept pushing. Because what else was I meant to do if not keep persisting?
When I suddenly got fired it was an abrupt wakeup call. I needed to challenge everything I believed in and confront those big questions I’d put off answering for so long: “Who am I really?” and “What am I really about?”
What I Learned Through My Four-Year Journey of Self-Discovery
I spent the next couple of years immersing myself in a whole range of subjects that covered different angles on self-knowledge, in an attempt to answer the question “Who am I?”
For most of my seeking, I was still trying to find answers as if they resided outside of me. I was still trying to find where I belonged professionally.
But what started as a business journey quickly morphed into an inner-transformational journey that became deeply personal.
This deep inner work allowed me to reconnect to my internal guidance system and my true self once more.
Through this process I was able to take a good look at myself, confront my shadow side, heal my wounds of rejection, and forgive everyone involved, including myself.
As I’ve come home to my true self, I’ve realized a few things about the cost of chasing impressiveness:
When we chase after something external, we lose self-connection.
When I heard that soft, loving voice inside my head, it was a small glimpse of spiritual awakening. It was a momentary connection to my inner mentor’s light that seeped through my deep dark fog of disconnection.
We all have our own inner mentor, but we have choose to listen to it instead of trying to be who we think we’re supposed to be.
When we trust others more than we trust ourselves, we can end up giving our personal power away.
If we believe that the answers we seek lie outside of ourselves, we can forget to check in to see what’s true for us each individually. The more weight we put on other people’s opinions, the less we trust our own inner knowing.
People can only speak to what they know based on their own perspective, background, and life experiences. When we allow other people’s opinions to overpower the choices our true selves would otherwise make, we end up giving away our personal power.
I’ve found that it doesn’t matter how many well-meaning opinions we get; we need to find what resonates with us the most by checking in with our inner authority—which means going against what we learned growing up, when we were trained to ignore our inner voice and do what we were told.
The pursuit of ‘impressiveness’ is a hunger that can never be satisfied.
When we keep chasing after ‘impressiveness,’ we are in fact on a hedonic treadmill of always wanting more. As soon as we achieve one thing, we fixate on the next. We keep wanting bigger, better, and more.
As soon as we attain or do something, suddenly what we have isn’t good enough anymore, and so we must now keep up. We fall into the comparison trap. The external goalpost keeps moving. We keep looking over our shoulders to see how we’re tracking against everyone, and it becomes a tireless pursuit of keeping up with the Joneses with no real end in sight.
Every ‘win’ is temporary.
We mistakenly see ‘impressiveness’ as proof that we’re worthy of love.
When we chase after ‘impressiveness’ we’re really chasing after validation, approval, and a sense of belonging. We think, “If I can be impressive then I can be accepted.” We want others to look up to us, praise us, and ultimately, love us.
However, the pursuit gets dangerous when we buy into the false belief that we have to work hard in order to prove we are worthy of love; that we need to become ‘impressive’ through our accomplishments and produce tangible proof of our worthiness.
I’ve noticed that a lot of high achievers, like myself, have bought into this belief, possibly due to the achievement-oriented upbringing we were exposed to from a very young age.
The danger is that it can become an acquisition addiction, and an arms race to get more degrees, more cars, more houses, more shoes, more toys, and so on.
We can become addicted to buying ‘cool’ things to impress other people, or work ourselves to the bone just to get those long lists of accolades instead of recognizing that we are inherently worthy of love. Regardless of what we have or have achieved.
We risk losing our individuality.
When we chase after external validation and approval, we compromise who we really are in exchange for more respect, more likes, more kudos from our peers. We showcase a more curated, ‘acceptable’ version of ourselves to the world, and we hide other parts of ourselves that we think might be rejected by others. Even worse, we end up chasing after things we don’t even really want.
Some of us inherit strong beliefs about what ‘success’ means and some of us strive toward pre-approved categories of impressiveness as defined by society, without checking in once to see whether these pathways to ‘success’ fit in with our true selves.
In the end, we lose our individuality—the essence of who we really are.
It requires self-connection to recognize what is true for us versus what is conditioned into us. It requires even more courage to step outside of these pre-approved paths to ‘impressiveness’ and live a life that aligns with our true selves.
How to Reclaim Your Authentic Self
I’ve discovered that breaking free from the illusion of ‘impressiveness’ and reclaiming your true self is really a constant two-step dance between recognition and courage.
To reclaim your authentic self you have to recognize that you have disconnected from who you really are in the first place. Your achievements, your accomplishments, all the cool stuff that you own, and even your toned physique—they’re not who you really are.
2. Courage to be your true self
We have to have courage to stand in our truth and be our authentic selves. Recognition alone is not enough. For many of us, it’s the fear of disapproval that holds us back from stepping out of those curated, pre-approved categories that we have created for ourselves, and fully owning who we are, in all our beautiful, strange glory.
My wish is that this becomes your permission slip to fully step into who you really are and own it. Being your true self requires tremendous courage, but it’s worth it. And having the courage to fully embrace your true individuality in all its quirkiness? That’s impressive.
Article By: Clarabel Sage of Tiny Buddha
“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
We try to give our bodies value with numbers. We’re obsessed with the number on the scale and the circumference of our waist.
We also think our value lies in labels. Words like “obese,” “fat,” and “overweight” are triggers for many, and we abhor them like coffee breath, because we’ve been immersed in pocrescophobia (the fear of getting fat) from before we can remember.
But we are more than a category on a pie chart. We are more than our body shape. Magazines tell us we are shaped like a fruit, but we are shaped by the experiences that have made us the people we are today.
Our bodies may not be light, but inside we are shrouded with light. We may be soft where we’ve been told we ought to be hard and toned, but it’s in our softness that others feel comforted in the midst of their problems. We may not have a thigh gap, but there’s space between our arms for those we love to seek shelter.
We are more than just a body.
Our bodies are amazing. They can do so much, for ourselves and for others. We are each beautiful in our own right.
But that’s not all there is to us. We are the imprint we leave on the planet during our short life on Earth. We are the heart that beats within us for the things we are passionate about.
We are the smile that radiates out of our eyes when we experience a moment of pure joy, and the serenity that pervades us when we are content. We are the words we exchange, the words we write down, the words we guard in our minds at all costs. We are the feelings that pass through us, exhilarate us, drive us, guide us.
We are the thoughts and memories and unique set of DNA that set us apart from everyone else. We are special. We are needed. We are designed for a purpose.
We have value that surpasses everything society and the media wants us to obsess over. We have value apart from how we look. We have value apart from our relationship status.
We have value apart from our income. We have value apart from whether we own a house or not, or have kids or not. We. Have. Value. Unchanging, unequivocal, perfect value.
I regret that I wasted this whole weekend feeling depressed about how much I weigh now compared to how much I weighed in my early twenties (I’m approaching thirty). It seems so silly when you think about it, a stone here or there. But I found myself giving in to that black hole, falling-to-the-floor kind of despair.
I should weigh less. I should look slimmer. I should try harder.
I should be something that isn’t me at this moment in time.
It seems like everyone is dissatisfied with the way they look. We will pay money and give up all our free time to try and achieve the illusion of perfection. Snapchat filters, Instagram filters, even paying for apps that will help us to create the perfect selfie, because heaven forbid we look anything less than perfect online!
This, in turn, feeds into other people’s insecurities, spreading the toxic message that our “just as I am” is not enough.
The thing is, weight is just one small way to measure health. My weight suggests I’m quite overweight for my height. But when you look at my waist-to-hip and waist-to-height measurements, I’m in the “healthy” category for both of them, with little-to-no risk of developing heart disease or obesity.
Things just don’t add up. I’m left feeling like something is wrong with me. Am I in the red, or in the green?
Do I need to lose weight, or can I breathe a sigh or relief?
The thing is, it’s these categories and labels that have got it all wrong. Health can’t always be measured by numbers. It’s how you live your life.
Being obsessive isn’t healthy. Talking negatively (even in your mind) about yourself isn’t healthy. Striving for perfection isn’t healthy.
What is healthy? Loving yourself exactly the way you are. Making good choices for your physical and mental health.
Being balanced in everything.
Some days I feel like I’ve come so far, that I truly do love and accept myself as I am, wobbly bits and all. Other days I feel lost in a sea of self-pity and a strong dislike for what I see in the mirror. I compare myself to other girls.
Why can’t I be naturally skinny? Why has nature been so unkind? Then I remember that nature has been kind.
I’m uniquely myself with my own combination of curves and body fat. Why would I want to look like anyone else?
My thoughts go round and round like this. It can be so tiring.
My parents used to tell me I had a “feminine figure.” My partner loves the way I look and never ceases to remind me, even when I’m in one of my funks and in a loop of obsessing over my supposed flaws. If I could only see myself through the eyes of those who love me, my obsessing and self-loathing would all stop in an instant.
The thing is, we have to see ourselves through the eyes of love. We have to accept. We are craving our own love and acceptance.
We need our own kindness. We need to talk about ourselves like we would talk to our best friend. We need to look in the mirror and say, “You are beautiful, just the way you are.”
See your own value. Yes, your body has value. Yes, it is beautiful, exactly as it is.
Shout it out! Proclaim it to the rooftops!
But you are more than that.
You are so much more than a body.
Article by: Nicola Casey
Summer is arguably the best season known to man—for most of us millennials, summer is a time to drink cold, age appropriate beverages, get an occasional sun tan/burn, and maybe work a job or internship if you have the drive to do so. Basically, it’s a time of stress free, care free living. For most of us.
But for those of us that struggle with mental illnesses like anxiety and depression, summer is just another time of the year where we are plagued by impending stress. Here is a bucket list I’ve made for this summer to help you live the happiest (and hopefully sweatiest) summer of your life.
Summer reading was the probably the only negative part about summer for most of us when we were kids, but this is a different kind of reading! This is the mental sweat I’m talking about where you take on a challenge to learn something new during the summer by reading about it—hey, you can learn about the history of shot gunning beers if you’d like.
2. Take up a new adventure hobby, preferably physical.
Never been able to do a handstand before? THIS IS YOUR SUMMER TO LEARN IT! Whether you are trying to perfect an old skill or learn a new one, don’t be afraid to challenge your body to new feats!
3. Eat something new or something old cooked in a new way.
Adventure can be intimidating for sure. But if you can do one new thing a day, even if it’s taking the long way home from work, THEN DO IT.
If you struggle often with anxiety and depression (or any other mental illness and would like to try meditation) I say YES. GO YOU. DO IT. Practicing mindfulness and grounding in our daily lives is crucial if we want to be at inner peace with ourselves and everything around us.
5. Host (or attend) a potluck BBQ.
Food is such a great way to bring people together and summer is the perfect time for barbecues and relaxation with those people that make you feel the most comfortable.
6. DO MORE OF WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY.
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT BECAUSE EVERYDAY SHOULD BE THE BEST DAY EVER BUT THAT’S NOT HOW THE WORLD WORKS SO EVEN ON BAD DAYS JUST PROMISE ME AND PROMISE YOURSELF THAT YOU WILL DO SOMETHING THAT MAKES YOU HAPPY FOR AT LEAST ONE HOUR A DAY SO THAT EVERY DAY HAS AT LEAST AN HOUR OF HAPPINESS IN IT.
7. Get lost somewhere (not stranded without food or water, just lost-ish).
Finding your way around a new town or through a bustling city is a great way to not only learn about the world around you, but about yourself and the way in which you have experiences. So take a trip to your nearest big city or a new city you’ve never been to before, and wander about. Take in your surroundings and make sure you eat plenty along the way!
8. Face a fear you have.
Whether you’re afraid of roller coasters or terrified of broccoli, take the beauty of the summer as an opportunity to face your fears in some of the best weather we have!
Article By: Alyssa Villani
Affirmations are statements that you repeat over and over in attempt to change your unconscious beliefs. Pick a few that you like and look in the mirror and repeat several times each day! If you can find some of these positive body affirmations that resonate for you and really allow yourself to see them, hear them and feel them, you might find some shifts in the way you think about yourself and your body.
Love your body with these body positive affirmations:
1. My body deserves love.
2. I am perfect, whole, and complete just the way I am.
3. I feed my body healthy nourishing food and give it healthy nourishing exercise because it deserves to be taken care of.
4. I love and respect myself.
5. It’s okay to love myself now as I continue to evolve.
6. My body is a temple. I want to treat it with love and respect.
7. My body is a gift.
8. Food doesn’t have to be the enemy, it can be nurturing and healing.
9. Life is too short and too precious to waste time obsessing about my body. I am going to take care of it to the best of my ability and get out of my head and into the world.
10. I will not give in to the voices of my eating disorder that tell me I’m not okay. I will listen to the healthy voices that I do have, even if they are very quiet so that I can understand that I am fine. I am fine.
11. Food doesn’t make me feel better, it just temporarily stops me from feeling what I’m feeling.
12. I have everything inside of me that I need to take care of myself without using food.
13. A goal weight is an arbitrary number, how I feel is what’s important.
14. I am worthy of love
15. As long as I am good, kind, and hold myself with integrity, it doesn’t matter what other people think of me.
16. Other people are too busy thinking about themselves to care what my weight is
17. When I compare myself to others, I destroy myself, I don’t want to destroy myself so I’ll just continue on my journey, not worrying about other people’s journeys.
18. I am blessed to be aging. The only alternative to aging is death.
19. It’s okay for me to like myself. It’s okay for me to love myself.
20. I have to be an advocate for me. I can’t rely on anyone else to do that for me.
21. A “perfect” body is one that works, no matter what that means for you personally.
22. It’s okay for me to trust the wisdom of my body.
23. Just because someone looks perfect on the outside, doesn’t mean they have a perfect life. No one has a perfect life, we all struggle. That’s just what being human is.
24. If I spend too much time trying to be and look like someone else, I cease to pay attention to myself, my virtues, my path, and my journey.
25. When I look to others to dictate who I should be or how I should look, I reject who I am.
26. The last thing I should be doing is rejecting myself. Accepting myself as I am right now is the first step in changing, growing and evolving. When I reject myself, I cannot grow.
27. Self respect is underrated.
28. I can only go forward, so although I can learn from it, I refuse to dwell on the past.
29. ALL images in magazines are airbrushed, photoshopped, and distorted.
30. If people actively judge or insult me, it’s because they feel badly about themselves. No one who feels good about themselves has the need to put someone down to elevate themselves- they have better things to do with their time.
31. I have no need to put someone down to elevate myself.
32. I can be a good person if I choose to be.
33. It’s my life, I can choose the way I want to live it.
34. When I smile, I actually make other people happy.
35. Balance is the most important.
36. If I binge today, I can still love and accept myself, I don’t have to beat, berate and starve myself right afterwards, and I still have the very next moment to jump right back into recovery.
37. Recovery is an ongoing process that is not linear in fashion. If I slip up, I’ll take the opportunity as a learning experience and get right back to my recovery goals/program.
38. Progress is not linear. It’s normal for me to go forward and then backward, and then forward again.
39. I enjoy feeling good. It’s okay for me to feel good.
40. Having an eating disorder is not my identity.
41. Being skinny or fat is not my identity. I am identified by who I am on the inside, a loving, wonderful person.
42. I choose health and healing over diets and punishing myself.
43. My opinion of myself is the only one I truly know and it’s the only one that counts. I can choose my opinion of myself.
44. When I am in my head too much, I can return to my breath, just breath and be okay. There is only this moment.
45. It’s okay to let others love me, why wouldn’t they?
46. I am good stuff.
47. I am compassionate and warm. My presence is delightful to people.
48. My very existence makes the world a better place.
49. It’s okay to pay someone to rub my feet every once in a while.
50. If I am hungry, I am supposed to let myself eat. Food is what keeps me alive.
51. Getting older makes me smarter.
52. It’s okay not to be the best all the time.
53. My well-being is the most important thing to me. I am responsible for taking care of me. We are each responsible for ourselves.
54. No one has the power to make me feel bad about myself without my permission.
55. My feet are cute. Even if they’re ugly.
56. I eat for energy and nourishment.
57. Chocolate is not the enemy. It’s not my friend either. It’s just chocolate, it has no power over me.
58. I can be conscious in my choices.
59. I am stronger than the urge to binge.
60. I am healthier than the urge to purge.
61. Restricting my food doesn’t make me a better person, being kind to myself and to others makes me a better person.
62. Being skinny doesn’t make me good. Being fat doesn’t make me bad.
63. I can be healthy at any size.
64. Life doesn’t start 10 pounds from now, it’s already started. I can make the choice to include myself in it.
65. Food, drugs, and alcohol are not the solution. But they might seem like it at times, but using these things can make more problems. I have what I need inside of me as the solution.
66. There is a guide inside of me who is wise and will always be there to help me on my journey.
67. Sometimes sitting around and doing nothing is just what the doctor ordered. It’s okay to let myself relax.
68. I am a human being, not a human doing. It’s okay to just be sometimes. I don’t always have to be doing.
69. My brain is my sexiest body part.
70. Looks last about five minutes– or until someone opens their mouth.
71. My life is what I make of it. I have all the power here.
72. My body is a vessel for my awesomeness.
73. My body can do awesome things.
74. If I am healthy, I am so very blessed.
75. I won’t let magazines or the media tell me what I should look like. I look exactly the way I’m supposed to. I know because this is the way god made me!
76. What is supposedly pleasing to the eye is not always what is pleasing to the touch. Cuddly is good!
77. I can trust my intuition. It’s here to guide me.
78. Just because I am taking care of myself and being an advocate for myself doesn’t mean I’m selfish.
79. Not everyone has to like me. I just have to like me.
80. It’s not about working on myself it’s about being okay with who I already am.
81. My needs are just as important as anyone else.
82. Body, if you can love me for who I am, I promise to love you for who you are– no one is responsible for changing anyone else.
83. I will make peace with my body, it doesn’t do anything but keep me alive and all I do is insult it and hurt it. I’m sorry body, you’ve tried to be good to me and care for me, it’s time for me to try to be good back.
84. Thighs, thank you for carrying me.
85. Belly, thank you for holding in all my organs and helping me digest.
86. Skin, thank you for shielding and protecting me.
87. Other people don’t dictate my choices for me, I know what’s best for myself.
88. I feed my body life affirming foods so that I can be healthy and vital.
89. Taking care of myself feels good.
90. I can eat a variety of foods for health and wellness without bingeing.
91. There is more to life that losing weight. I’m ready to experience it.
92. If I let go of my obsession with food and my body weight, there is a whole world waiting for me to explore.
93. The numbers on the scale are irrelevant to who I am as a human.
94. Food is not good or bad. It has no moral significance. I can choose to be good or bad and it has nothing to do with the amount of calories or carbohydrates I eat.
95. I am still beautiful when I’m having a bad hair day.
96. My nose gives me the ability to breathe. Breath gives me the ability to be an amazingly grounded, solid person.
97. Being grounded and whole is what makes me beautiful. If I don’t feel grounded and whole, I can get there just by being still, breathing, listening to my intuition, and doing what I can to be kind to myself and others.
98. I am not bad and I don’t deserve to be punished, not by myself and not by others.
99. I deserve to be treated with love and respect and so do you. I choose to do and say kind things for and about myself and for and about others.
100. Even if I don’t see how pretty I am, there is someone who does. I am loved and admired. REALLY!
101. Beauty?… To me it is a word without sense because I do not know where its meaning comes from nor where it leads to. ~Pablo Picasso
We can help.
Hillary Counseling offers individual therapy and online therapy services to help you start loving your body and banish low self-esteem, low self-confidence, and body image.
“Your body is precious. It is your vehicle for awakening. Treat it with care.” ~Buddha
When I went on my first diet in my teens (low-carb, it was back in the Atkins days), I wasn’t even overweight. I weighed less than 120 pounds, but my jeans had started to get a little tight, so I thought I needed to lose five pounds or so. At the time, I didn’t have a bad relationship with food; I just ate like a typical teenager—not the best choices.
About two hours in, I remember starting to obsess over the things I couldn’t eat and being desperate to be skinny ASAP so I could eat them again.
By mid day, I “failed.”
I caved and ate…. *gasp, shock, horror*… carbs.
And something weird happened. Instantly, I felt like I was bad.
It’s not just that I thought I had made a bad choice.
I thought, “You idiot, you can’t do anything right. Look at you, one meal in and you screwed up already. You may as well just eat whatever you want the rest of the day and start again tomorrow.”
I think I gained about five pounds from that attempt.
And I continued slowly gaining more and more weight every year after that—and feeling guiltier and guiltier every time I ate something “bad.”
Atkins low-carb miracle cure had failed me horribly and began a decades-long battle with food and my weight.
See, it wasn’t that I thought my choice was bad and then I just made a better choice next time; it was that I felt like I, as a person, was bad.
And what happens when we’re bad?
We get punished.
I didn’t realize until many years later, but those degrading thoughts and overeating the rest of the day were, in part, my way of punishing myself for being bad and eating the bad things.
The harder I tried to control what was going in, the worse it got and the more out of control I felt.
In my thirties I hit bottom, as they say, as a result of trying to follow a “clean eating meal plan.”
Four days into my first attempt to “eat clean” and strictly adhere to what someone else told me I should eat, I had my first-ever binge.
Prior to that, I had some minor food issues. I ate kind of crummy, had slowly been gaining weight, and felt guilty when I ate carbs (thanks, Atkins).
But a few days into “clean eating,” I was in the middle of a full-blown eating disorder.
The clean eating miracle craze may have made me look and feel amazing, but emotionally, it failed me horribly and began my years-long battle to recover from bulimia and binge eating.
But I thought it was just me. I was such a screw up, why couldn’t I just eat like a normal person?
I saw how much better I looked and felt when I was managing to “be good” and “eat clean,” but within a few days or weeks of “being good,” no matter how great I felt from eating that way, I always caved and ended up bingeing again.
And every time, I thought it was me. I told myself I was broken and weak and pathetic.
Even later, when I started training other people, my message was “If it’s not on your plan, it doesn’t go in your mouth” and “You can’t expect to get the body you want by eating the things that gave you the body you have.”
I wanted clients to feel amazing and get the best results possible, so I gave them what I knew would accomplish those two things.
But, at the time, I didn’t know that it was actually those messages and rules that had created all my own issues with food, and I most definitely didn’t know they would have that affect on anyone else.
I thought everyone else was “normal.” I was just broken and weak and stupid—that’s why I struggled so hard to just “be good” and “stop screwing up.” Normal people would see how much better they felt when they ate that way, and they’d automatically change and live happily ever after.
The more people I trained, the more I became acutely aware that food is the thing most people struggle with the most, and I started recognizing the exact same thoughts and behaviors I’d experienced, in the majority of my clients.
And almost every single one of them also had a looong history of failed diets.
Hmmm. Maybe it wasn’t just me.
Not everyone goes to the extreme of bulimia, but the more I spoke with other people about their struggles with food and shared my own with them, the more I realized how shockingly pervasive disordered eating and eating disorders have become.
Binge eating is an eating disorder—one that more people struggle with than I ever imagined. Though, most people are horrified to admit it, and many may not even be willing to admit to themselves that they do.
I get that because it’s associated with lack of self-control and gluttony, and there’s a great deal of shame related to both of those things. But it actually has little to do with either, and you can’t change anything until you admit you’re struggling.
And disordered eating in general is even more pervasive.
Feeling guilt after eating is not normal. That’s disordered eating.
Restricting entire food groups is not normal. That’s disordered eating.
Severely restricting food in general in not normal. That’s disordered eating.
Beating yourself up for eating something “bad” is not normal. That’s disordered eating.
Starting and stopping a new diet every few weeks or months is not normal. That’s disordered eating.
Diet culture has us so screwed up that we spend most of our lives doing these things without ever realizing they’re not normal. And they’re negatively affecting our whole lives.
As I was working on my own recovery, I dove into hundreds of hours of research into dieting, habits, motivation, and disordered eating—anything I could get my hands on to help not only myself but my clients better stick to their plans.
It’s so easy, I used to think; there must be some trick to make us just eat what we’re supposed to eat!
But I learned the exact opposite.
I learned that trying to “stick to the plan” was actually the problem.
The solution wasn’t in finding some magic trick to help people follow their meal plans; the solution lay in not telling people what to eat in the first place.
There are many reasons behind why we eat what we eat, when we eat, and even the quantities we choose to eat; it just doesn’t work to tell someone to stop everything they know and just eat this much of this at this time of day, because at some later date it’ll make them skinny and happy.
Our brains don’t work that way.
Our brains actually work exactly the opposite.
As soon as we place restrictions on what we’re allowed or not allowed to eat, our brains start creating compulsions and obsessive thoughts that drive us to “cave.”
Have you ever noticed that as soon as you “can’t” have something, you automatically want it even more?
That’s a survival instinct that’s literally been hard-wired into our brains since the beginning of time.
In November 1944, post-WW II, physiologist Ancel Keys, PhD and psychologist Josef Brozek PhD began a nearly yearlong experiment on the psychological and physiological effects of starvation on thirty-six mentally and physically healthy young men.
The men were expected to lose one-quarter of their body weight. They spent the first three months eating a normal diet of 3,200 calories a day followed by six months of semi-starvation. The semi-starvation period was followed by three months of rehabilitation calories (3,200) and finally an eight-week period of unrestricted rehabilitation, during which time there was no limitations on caloric intake.
Researchers closely monitored the physiological and psychological changes brought on by calorie restriction.
During the most restricted phase the changes were dramatic. Physically, the men became gaunt in appearance, and there were significant decreases in their strength, stamina, body temperature, heart rate, and even sex drive.
Psychologically, the effects were even more dramatic and mirror those almost anyone with any history of dieting can relate to.
They became obsessed with food. Any chance they had to get access to more food resulted in the men binge eating thousands of calories in a sitting.
Before the restriction period, the men were a lively bunch, discussing politics, current events, and more. During the restriction period, this quickly changed. They dreamt, read, fantasized, and talked about food all the time.
They became withdrawn, irritable, fatigued, and apathic. Depression, anxiety, and obsessive thinking (especially about food) were also observed.
For some men, the study proved too difficult—they were excluded as a result of breaking the diet or not meeting their weight loss goals.
We don’t struggle to follow diets and food rules because we lack willpower. It’s literally the way our brains are wired.
Why? Because from an evolutionary standpoint, we’re not designed to restrict food. Coded into our DNA is the overwhelming urge to survive, so when food (either over-all calories or food groups) is restricted, our brains begin to create urgency, compulsions, and strong desires that force us to fill its needs—and often, even more than its needs (binges).
We cave because our brains are hardwired to. Then the act of caving actually gets wired into our brains as a habit that we continue to repeat on autopilot every time we restrict food or food groups.
And it triggers the punish mode that I spoke of earlier, which only compounds the problem and slowly degrades our self-worth.
So every year millions of people are spending tens of billions of dollars on diets that are making the majority of us heavier, depressed, anxious, food-obsessed binge eaters, and destroying our self-worth.
Now I know all that sounds pretty bleak, but there is a way out. I know because I’ve found it.
It sounds like the opposite of what we should do, but it saved my life.
I gave myself permission to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and stopped trying to restrict. The scarier that sounds, the more you need to do it.
As soon as nothing is off limits, we can begin to slowly move away from the scarcity mindset and break the habits and obsessions created by dieting.
When we give ourselves unconditional permission to eat whatever we want, without guilt or judgment, we give ourselves the space to get mindful about our choices.
We give ourselves the opportunity to explore why we’re making the choices we’re making and the power to freely make different ones because we begin to value ourselves again.
When we remove the guilt and judgment, start to value ourselves again, and work on being mindful, we can begin to notice how the foods we’re eating make us feel and make choices from a place of love and kindness rather than fear, guilt, and punishment.
It sounds too simple to work, but it saved my life.
Rather than telling people what they should and shouldn’t eat, or trying to listen to someone who’s telling us what we should or shouldn’t eat, we have to build a connection with our bodies.
We have to learn to listen to them, to learn to distinguish the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger. To stop eating when we’re not physically hungry, and to start feeling emotions instead of feeding them.
We have to break the habits that drive autopilot eating. We have to be mindful, trust the wisdom of our own bodies, and make choices based on how they make our bodies feel rather than what some diet tells us is the answer to happiness and being skinny.
Article by: Roni Davis of Tiny Buddha
This post was republished with permission from tinybuddha.com. You can find the original post at https://tinybuddha.com.
We can help.
Hillary Counseling offers individual therapy and online therapy services to help with binge eating disorder.
“The most important thing is to enjoy your life—to be happy—it’s all that matters.” ~Audrey Hepburn
Happiness and its pursuit fascinate me.
Like most people, I’m curious why on some mornings I wake up and the world is a wonderful place—the sun is shining, happiness oozes out of my heart like warm honey, and the sound of bird song brings a smile to my face. I can only describe this as bliss.
On other mornings, it feels as if all color and wonder in world has drained away. My heart feels heavy in my chest. I’m indifferent to the sound of birds singing outside my window; if anything, it irritates me.
Why? How? What is the difference that makes the difference with happiness? I’d love to have the answers.
All I can do I share my truth. Share how I intend to make 2018 a happy new year.
1. Focus on what makes me feel good
As Tony Robbins says, “Focus creates feeling.”
It’s my choice whether I focus on the good, the bad, or the ugly. The mind, with its negativity bias, will steer me toward the ugly. The worst-case scenario for the future. The memories I wish I could forget.
Identifying with these thoughts, focusing on them, I’ll feel a certain way (crappy).
The great news is, if I steer my thoughts toward the best-case scenario for the future and the memories I hope I’ll never forget, I’ll feel the way I wish to feel.
Matthieu Ricard, the French writer and Buddhist monk, suggests a great practice: for ten minutes each day, connect with thoughts and memories that make us feel good. When I practice this, I take myself to my “happy place” (I think we all have a happy place). Mine is a secluded beach in New Zealand called Ocean Beach.
In my happy place, I imagine it’s 2012 again and I’m back standing on the hot sand, surrounded by my friends as we jump joyfully into the towering waves. I recall the taste of the salty water, the heat of the sun on my back, the sounds of laughter and the great roar of the ocean. Within seconds of reconnecting with my happy place, these warm feelings, much like the waves themselves, begin to flow.
The feelings that were there, all along, inside of me.
I sometimes forget this truth, so to remind myself I’ve written on my wall:
“Will, you are only one thought away from what you wish to feel.”
2. Make the relationship I have with myself my most important relationship
I’ve had conversations with friends before, good people who are real givers; they genuinely care for other people. Yet they neglect themselves. They tell me they feel guilty for making time for themselves; they feel bad for putting themselves first before other people. That it’s somehow selfishto do so.
The way I see it, putting ourselves first is the least selfish thing we can do.
When I take care of my own needs, I’m able to give more to others because I’m in a good mental place.
When I treat myself with kindness and compassion, this is naturally how I treat other people.
When I honor and look after myself, I’m giving others permission to do the same.
When I look after myself, everyone is better off, myself and others.
A ritual I created this year that I’ll be carrying on into 2018 and beyond is to take myself on dates.
Yep, that’s right, once per week I’ll take myself out on a date.
We deem our loved ones worthy and deserving of dates, why not ourselves?
Sometimes, a self-date means treating myself to a long walk in the forest with a piece of cake in one hand and a coffee in the other. Sometimes, I’ll go for lunch at my favorite Japanese restaurant.
The rules for my self-date are simple: I give myself an experience I enjoy, guilt-free.
Most of us are great at meeting the needs of others, loving others, and responding with understanding, compassion, and kindness.
My question is, what will it take for us to show up like this for ourselves?
I know in 2018 there are going to be days where happiness eludes me. I’m going to experience failure, disappointments, loss, stress, anger, and frustration.
All of which will be difficult, but I know this: I can rely on myself to guide myself through them, as I’m committed to prioritizing the relationship I have with myself.
3. Find glimpses of happiness even during tough times
Happiness for me is an inside of job, as my feelings come from inside of me; they’re internal.
When I believe my happiness is determined by the external world, I’m at its mercy.
I may or may not achieve my goals. I maybe will or maybe won’t have health, wealth, and success in 2018.
There are lots of maybes, which are not necessarily in my control.
So, while I may not feel happy all the time, I’ve decided that my overall happiness will not be a maybe.
I’m a firm believer that even in life’s darkest moments, there are, what I call “glimpses of happiness” to be found.
Sadly, this year, my family and I lost a very special lady, my Nana Joyce.
On the day of my Nana’s funeral, I was due to read a poem, but when it came to standing up and reading, however, my emotions and body had other another plan: to break down.
I’d barely read the name of the poem before tears of grief erupted. Uncontrollably.
I stuttered in an attempt to get the words out, but it wasn’t happening.
The realization that my Nana was gone had hit me.
Then something beautiful happened. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see someone walking toward me.
It was my Uncle Barry.
”Would you like me to read this for you, Wills?”
I groaned something that sounded something like “yes.”
My Uncle Barry proceeded to read the poem, slowly, with a tone of sadness in his voice.
Rather than disappearing to my seat, I stood with him, my hand on his shoulder as I took some deep breaths to calm down.
Despite the strong and shattering grief I experienced, standing there with my uncle, there was a small glimpse of peace, as I knew I wasn’t alone.
Throughout the rest of the day, I noticed more glimpses.
Glimpses of love as my family comforted one another.
Glimpses of laughter as we recalled funny stories from my Nana’s life.
Glimpses of happiness as I acknowledged my family were here on this day as one, supporting each other on this most difficult day.
These glimpses of happiness are always shining, and they work by reflecting back the happiness that already exists inside of us.
They are in the room with me now. They are surrounding you as you read these words.
Acknowledge these glimpses as they appear and you’ll feel happy a lot more often.
Happy New Year.
Article by: Will Aylward of Tiny Buddha
This post was republished with permission from tinybuddha.com. You can find the original post at https://tinybuddha.com.
“You must learn to love yourself before you can love someone else.” ~Sonja Mylin
It’s tough being out there.
I remember myself some years ago embracing the world of online dating. Everyone kept telling me “be yourself” (and I kept telling myself that), but when I was actually on a date, “myself” would fly out the window.
I’d go hard on the impressing, second-guess myself, drink too much, look for every little thing we had in common (even if the person did not feel right), feel devastated if I was rejected, and utterly lose sight of what I was on the date for in the first place. Perhaps I didn’t really know who I was or how to be her in what I saw as a confronting environment.
Dating brings out all our fears and vulnerabilities. You’re basically putting yourself on a platter, asking folks to judge you: “Pick me! Pick me!” like someone on a reality TV competition. You forget that it’s a two-way street. That you are looking for a suitable love (or a lover) to be with you, and that is all.
We get the little brain buzz from being swiped right, from the initial contact message, from a nod of approval when we arrive. All of these microsigns can feel so great that they interrupt our reasonable thinking around who we’re looking for.
Or, at the opposite end of the spectrum, we’re bombarded with messages from people we’re just not into (and straight up jerks), we go on dates that end up in an awful mess, we get rejected or we reject, which crushes someone, and it all feels terrible.
It’s easy to lose heart.
Dating doesn’t have to be like that. There are ways to bring it all back to what you are actually dating for in the first place. I know for myself that love came my way when I dug down a little deeper, stopped adjusting what I wanted from a relationship, gave it some time, had fun, and was really myself—warts, opinions, and all.
Here are five ways to be out there from a place of self-love and have a much better chance of finding the real love you’re looking for.
1. You are dating to find someone for you, not just to impress.
This isn’t a job interview: dating is an opportunity for two people to find out if they like each other enough to keep finding out. No one is in a position of power over the other.
Try not to spend the whole date putting all your energy into impressing the other person. Remember that you are checking them out as much as they are checking you out, and that you are making a decision too.
2. Identify your values and then look for a match based on those instead of just shared interests.
Sure, you want to be able to enjoy spending time with your partner, but contrary to popular opinion, your partner doesn’t need to be your best friend. You don’t need to do every single thing together. It’s far more important that you have similar core values. Interests can change, but values at their very core generally hold.
What traits and ways of behaving are most important to you? What do you believe in? What world issues really pull your heartstrings? What would you fight for? How will you be able to tell if someone shares your values?
Spend some time with yourself to drill down into the deeper stuff and then look for matching connections. Shared values will make for rich conversation and bring you back together when times are tough, not the fact that you both like white water rafting or watching RuPaul’s Drag Race.
3. Stop performing a version of you.
Many of us filter out the stuff we think might be seen as weird or boring or stupid when we’re dating. Or, it becomes normal to present a curated, cooler version of you. Of course you want to put your best foot forward, but sometimes it’s stripped back so much that who you are becomes completely invisible.
Dating is not a numbers game. You don’t need loads of matches to find someone. You need matches with fewer folks who are really going to get you. Who will think you’re cute and funny and smart and interesting (even when you’re driving them mad).
If you love binging Pretty Little Liars and cheap chocolate, painting old furniture, sleeping in until 4pm on Saturday afternoon, devouring true crime podcasts, attending the odd rally, and you wish you were an earth mother but are really more of a city gal who likes to shop, then that’s you.
And my bet is that you are pretty unique and special with all your faults and quirks. We fall in love with real people, not pretend ones. If someone doesn’t love the real you, why are you with them in the first place? Wouldn’t it be far more wonderful to be cherished even when you are not the curated version of yourself?
4. Don’t interpret “fun” as just the other person having fun.
Hands up: Who is fantastic at helping other people relax—so much so that you forget to actually notice if you are having fun too?
We all have roles we tend to play in life, and if yours is along these lines, then I’d encourage you to swallow that role somewhat and see what happens when you don’t leap into “Make them feel good” mode.
Live with an awkward silence. Notice if you’re being asked questions, listened to, or engaged in conversation on a similar level to what you’re putting in. Spout an opinion or two. Not going well? Then it maybe this one isn’t for you. And phew! You found out early on.
FYI: “Fun,” for those who have forgotten (because you’ve been out there way too long) is having a bit of a laugh and feeling relatively at ease.
5. Yep, it should be pretty easy.
Myth-busting time: Relationships don’t need to be hard and shouldn’t need to be “worked on” all the time. Are your friendships like that? My guess is that the good ones are not. Sure, they have ups and downs. There are misunderstandings and times of trouble. But ultimately, you really like each other’s company. You can rely on each other.
The best relationships are fairly easy. They need to be able to stand the test of time. If it’s hard when nothing hard is happening, how is it going to be when something really hard is happening?
Sure, there are situations that are supposed to be fun but instead can be fraught with issues (like moving in together). When we’re invested in someone and then mesh our lives together, that has some serious weight and it makes sense there will be teething.
But if you’re on date four and it’s uncomfortable, combative, awkward, and pressure-filled, and you feel bad about yourself, or the other person is trying to control you? This one is most likely not for you.
Ultimately, dating from a place of self-love is about believing that you are worthy just as you are, and that there is someone out there (maybe several someone’s) who you can and will connect with.
It’s not just about being loved—it’s about you loving someone else. And if you’re coming from a place of self-love, then you will ultimately run the dating gauntlet with kindness, self-respect, and vulnerability without heaping a load of meaning onto rejection. Rejection means this one wasn’t right for you, nothing more, and thank god they did you a favor! Because you are deserving of the real, luscious thing with someone truly amazing.
Article by: Nicole Hind