Recently someone introduced me to the concept of gentleness. Now I can hear some of you now say What the??, Yes, I know what being gentle means, and as a social worker, friend and family member, I know I can be gentle to others,
But gentle to myself – well that is where it gets hard.
When this concept was floated, it kind of stuck a chord with me. I have beaten myself down for years, told myself that because I was fat, I didn’t deserve to be “happy”, I didn’t deserve good things in life, I was a failure, blah, blah, blah – you get the idea. Bascially I spent the majority of my day mentally beating myself up on every aspect of my life. And let me say this is not the mindset of someone who will succeed at anything.
Body acceptance and being gentle to yourself is sooo important when it comes to changing in the long term…. I found this article that explains it a little.
“We may balk at the idea of body acceptance. If we accept our bodies, won’t we become complacent? If we embrace our imperfections, won’t we lose our motivation to exercise or eat right? Actually, the opposite is true. Some studies have shown that a healthy body acceptance actually encourages us to exercise and eat right. The reason? People who are comfortable with their bodies emphasize function over appearance, so they eat more intuitively, eating foods that make them feel good when they’re hungry. Meanwhile, people who diet because of body dissatisfaction are more likely to fail.via The Perfect Body – How to Accept Your Body Through Exercise.”
Looking back (Ahh don’t we love hindsight) I can now see that by hating myself, I was not allowing myself the space to build on any positive changes. Changing and Escaping from this mental game was part of what allowed me to change and keep changing.
It started with me believing that this time – with the Lap Band, I would have a tool that would help me succeed. In fact I think the Lap Band allowed me some mental space, it gave me a physical barrier to stop eating too much. This assisted me in looking at the weight that slowly came off, and over time (months and years) realising that I could win at this as it was not coming back on. I started to really believe that the weight was coming off for good. That I could accept the fact that I was changing, and that I might get to a place I was OK with. It also stopped the daily ritual I had of mentally abusing myself for eating too much or not doing enough exercise.
It is important to note here that I don’t think that being gentle of myself is the same as making excuses for eating poorly or not exercising, that to me (now) is not negotiable… Being gentle means I will not abuse my mind, call myself names etc. I will speak positively to myself and say “anti up girl you can do it”, “stay strong” and “Yes I can”
I still struggle with being gentle with myself, it is a new concept to think about… But I now realise it has been something that I have been practicing unconsciously over the past few years. I am not skilled at it yet… I am still scared of putting weight on, and I am still incredibly driven and feel bad when I don’t exercise or eat something I perhaps could have said no to. But I now know that mentally abusing myself was part of the cycle that kept me obese. While I am gentle to clients, friends and family, Now I need to practice being accepting and gentle to the person I will spend the rest of my life with… Me.
I hope that after reading this you will think about being more gentle to yourself too and rephrase old negative thoughts to a new positive framework… I can change, I will succeed, I have strength, I am enough.
Till next time, Lin xox