While in college, I once met a guy at a bar. I know…first mistake, right? In my defense, the bar was mostly grad students blowing off steam.
This guy was a post grad in engineering and was leaving the next day for a focused study group in another city. We hit it off with interesting and funny conversation, so we made a date for a Saturday night in two weeks, when he would be back in town.
I lived alone at the time, was struggling with school, being chubby, eating, and life in general. When we made the date, I figured I could lose at least ten pounds in the two weeks, so the next time he saw me I would look better. It didn’t occur to me that he must have been attracted to the way I looked that night, but that’s the story of the chronic dieter, right? I set out the next day to go on the most restrictive diet I could find.
Two weeks later, and ten pounds heavier, I met my new friend for our date. I was nervous as he approached my car in the parking lot of the restaurant we were supposed to meet. My pants were so tight, it was hard to breath, and I wore the highest heels I could find, to look taller. He smiled at me and we went into the restaurant.
During the dinner, I was mortified he would think I was disgusting since it was obvious I had gained weight since we met. I stammered through conversation that didn’t flow as easily as the first time. But I thought there was still some kind of spark and wanted to explore it further. We didn’t go out as a couple after that, but became close friends.
One day, while sitting in the student center, he asked, “Why do you do this to yourself?”
“What,” I asked.
“You know, keep people at a distance. Try not get close to anyone- put up this sort of, wall.”
I decided to be truthful with him. “Well, for one thing, I was interested in you romantically the first time we met and wanted to get to know you better, but when you saw me the second time and saw how fat I was, you backed off and only wanted to be friends. It kinda hurt. Why should I put myself out there to be rejected?”
“That’s, funny,” he quipped, “I thought you were the one who backed off, so I backed off too.”
We looked at each other and laughed. We never did date but remained close friends.
Sometimes relationships just go like this. And sometimes we make relationships go like this.
After that conversation I began to realize I was ‘doing this’ to myself. I was the one who thought I was fat and unattractive, so I was giving that information to myself and sending it out to the world. I wanted to change my outside appearance, not realizing I needed to change my inside appearance.
Fast forward a few decades…one year into learning how to accept myself and my body exactly the way I am. I am beginning to appreciate my value because I am a human being. Yes, I have accomplishments that I am proud of. But if I use them as the basis for my self-esteem, I will constantly go through life worried that I must top what I’ve already done.
Don’t get me wrong, striving to be a better person is a good thing. But when you accept your inherent value and like yourself regardless of what you look like or act like now, becoming a better person is a natural and straightforward process.
Think about it – Do you like to help people you don’t respect or those who don’t like you? It’s the same with yourself… If you don’t like yourself, you will find it difficult to help yourself or do the right thing.
How do you learn how to like yourself?
Know this – You are human. You overeat or binge to quell anxiety and stress. And even when you are not stressed, you may overeat due to habit. But your body is doing the best it can for the information you are giving it. Take the badness out of this behavior and it becomes manageable in ways that you never even thought of.
With this new understanding, I gave up trying to mold my body and my personality to fit into what I thought others wanted me to be. I used affirmations and any positive encouragement I could find. After 15 months of this practice, I am still learning new things. I am happier and healthier in mind and body than I was a year ago. If I can do this, you can do this too.
What To Do
Stop using all your effort to berate and criticize yourself and put that same effort into telling yourself how good you are. It won’t take long for you to begin to believe in yourself and change your life.
Say positive affirmations about your worth, out loud, a few times a day.
Read inspirational books and articles.
Listen to encouraging messages. I recommend Joel Osteen podcasts (also available on Sirius XM.
Find upbeat people to be around.
Question your motives. Practice seeing the positive in every situation.
You CAN do this!
“You are not defective or bad, you do not lack willpower. You do not have a character flaw or a bad attitude. You do not have a past or a genetic flaw that you cannot overcome. You are significant and hold a special place on this earth just like each person does.” MD