I’m doing a weekly program at the YWCA right now which I signed up for in January to help motivate myself back into daily workouts – something I was in the groove on for almost three years before I just petered out and stopped going. Believe it! is about developing healthy habits and mindframes around our bodies and our goals – and about ten of us meet on Wednesday nights for both coaching and workouts of various kinds.
Last night we had a coaching session on negative self-talk, which is something I am *highly* aware of in myself, though I’ve never been able to put an end to it. Of course lots of discussion of inner fears and torments ensued and it really triggered me to hear that these awesome women have so much internal struggle (cue: self). But then again, as that video (which made me cry when I saw it on FB yesterday – thanks Joanna for posting it) reminded me – everything that is in my head was fed into it from outside of my head. That is, we live in a society that can be cruel, sets impossible models to follow, engages in shaming and mocking behaviours, and is generally smug in its attempts to force conformity. And in addition to internalizing that, we also engage in externalizing our own feelings of inadequacy through negative verbalizing about ourselves and others. While most of us engage in suble ways – we support a mean-spirited and money-hungry media culture to do the rest of our judging and sizing-up for us.
At dinner on my birthday, B. and I were talking about just this subject – about how I’m really content in my life and where I’m at right now – and yet I’m still nervous about an upcoming high school reunion (20 years, omfg) and whether or not other people (who I haven’t seen since I left the graduation dance early in 1991) will think I’ve made enough success of my life. Because, you know it’s not important that *I’m* happy, it’s really important that virtual strangers care about what’s going on for me. Oh, and of course it’s really important that no one think I’m fat either. Because after all this time I’m sure everyone else I went to school with is in perfect shape. Uh huh.
The thing is, this negative self-image is limiting! During last night’s exercise we had to image where we would be without one particularly destructive belief of our choosing…. but I think my answer would be the same no matter what negative self-belief I picked: Without [insert negative belief here] I would be happier, more joyful, less stressed, more resilient and less worried about the opinions of others.
(I know this is true, because already in my life I’ve done some of this work and it has lead to a more open, joyful me than I would have been otherwise.)
Over at the Fitness Cheeleader, Janice has declared February the month of self-love which is fitting in with all these other things I’m thinking about. The more we love ourselves, the more we stop judging ourselves – the more we can love other people and reserve our judgement on them.
So I’m going to start right now. One thing I love about myself is my willingness to engage with the world – with different ideas, projects, fitness classes, community groups and academic courses. And also I have a huge capacity for love. And finally, not to be too smug about it, I have most excellent cleavage.
How about you?