Actually, scrap that; the scales used to be my worst enemy. Hang on, was it me that was my worst enemy?
I used to have A LOT of enemies and they all centred around my deep feeling of inadequacy. Not thin enough, not good looking enough, not hot enough, too fat, too outspoken, too tall, too this and never enough that.
I spent decades obsessed with getting smaller because I genuinely believed that it would give me the happiness I was searching for. I spent years changing who I was and what I looked like. I was constantly on a diet, recovering from a diet or putting on weight and hating myself for it. It was miserable and so was I. I stopped myself from doing things I loved. I didn’t want to go to the beach, wear beautiful clothes and felt like I was a perpetual failure for not being able to adhere to the idealised beauty standards that I (then) believed was the norm.
Nothing I ever did was good enough and the constant barrage of negative self-talk in my mind was sending me into a spin- although you’d never know it from looking at me. On the outside, I was confident, brave and without a care in the world. I had learnt young that people didn’t want to see emotions or negativity especially from someone in a larger body, so I stuffed down any and all of my feelings with food, drinking, distractions and numbing. I was the epitome of fake it till you make it.
Except the “make it” never came. It never does because what I began to learn through my journey of self-love is that if we don’t change the underlying beliefs/self-talk that are at the core of our inadequacy then no matter how our body aligns with the ideal, no matter the job, the status, the partner or the money; we will still always feel inadequate.
When we experience negative talk in our heads, the temptation is to push it aside, ignore it or tell it to go away. Yes, we all have this internal chatter and no, it does not make you strange- it’s perfectly normal. The trouble with toxic positivity and just repeating mantras that mask the chatter is that it doesn’t address the reason why these voices are there in the first place. They need love and attention.
We want to love ourselves right? We want to feel happy in our skin and confident in who we are? Yet our method of achieving this is through self-denial and rejection. Every time we push those thoughts and feelings aside, we are furthering the divide that is inside of us.
I had spent a lifetime berating myself and putting myself down and in the pursuit of feeling better, I reinforced the very thing I was trying to stop doing. Through coaching, NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), embodiment work, healing modalities and countless hours of working through my pain I discovered this:
To truly love ourselves, we need to learn to love the parts of us that hate us.
Next time you hear yourself putting yourself down, give this a go. You can replace the emotion/thought label with whatever you are feeling/thinking.
Aloud (if possible) “ Hello inadequacy, I can hear you. Thank you for showing me that you need love and attention. I want you to know that I love you no matter what and we’re going to be ok”.
Even if you don’t believe this at your core, if you continue to do this practice regularly and speak to your thoughts and emotions as if you were an ever-loving, patient and empathetic parent, then you will heal the relationship with yourself and eventually rewire your mind to be your ally instead of your enemy. You are addressing the emotion/thought at its core and giving it the love that it so desperately needs.
We don’t hate our bodies because of how they look, we hate our bodies because of how we think. Change the thinking with deliberate love and attention, one thought at a time.
Lunaria Gaia is a self-esteem and body image coach, healer, speaker and #1 bestselling author of Perfectly Imperfect. She has guided countless women to healing their relationship with themselves through her membership portal, courses, private sessions and speaking. Her debut book Perfectly Imperfect will transform the way you see yourself and help you to find your way back to yourself. Click here for more info.