I did a brave thing this week. Well brave for me. You may think it’s silly. If you follow me on social media you’ll notice that the majority of my photos are self-taken. I really like having my feed reflect what I am actually doing so I like that about it, but I’ve been wanting new professional photos for my website for a while and have put it off.
Well I finally pulled the trigger and did a photo shoot this week. So why is this brave you’re wondering?
I have a really hard time seeing photos of me. I find myself being extremely critical of them.
So I really had to lean into this relationship I have built with myself over the past few years to get over my fear, my hesitation and embarrassment and be willing to be seen, by me ultimately. But letting go of self-consciousness in order to just be there was a huge win for me.
Changing your relationship
This process of weight loss is not just about changing what you eat, but about changing your relationship with you so that you can show up differently in your life when it comes to food and eating.
That is when things really changed for me in my weight loss journey…when I changed my relationship with me.
I still have work to do, but I have worked really hard to change how I feel about myself by focusing on how I see myself, what I say about and to myself, and that has completely changed how I take care of myself.
Our self concept is largely built on the past – what we have experienced and what we made it mean, our choices and our judgments of those choices.
What we think about what we have done, is what colors how we see ourselves in the present. We view ourselves as a product of our past, rather than a concept we are creating in real time with the stories we are telling ourselves today.
The story you are telling yourself
One example of a past-centered story is one I hear often from my clients and one I believed about myself for a large part of my life: The “I am broken” story. When this is part of our story, we look back at the past to find evidence of how it’s true and then we see things in the present that reinforce this past-based belief. We keep finding evidence now to corroborate the story of the past.
I remember believing that my strong desire for and love of eating sugar was evidence that I was broken. All of my failed attempts to rid myself of the desire, to stop eating it… just more evidence that I couldn’t be fixed.
Notice something important here I want you to watch for in your stories: this story is working off of the premise that there is a right way to be…and that how I was, was not it.
Part of my story was that a person should be able to not eat sugar, not crave sugar, stop eating it if they wanted to, and not have so much drama about it. And so my inability to do that was an indictment of my worth.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to bring awareness to your current self concept:
-How do you see yourself?
-What is your story of you?
-What makes you you?
-How do you describe yourself to others?
-How do you describe yourself to yourself?
-Why do you think you are who you are?
-What influenced and contributed to how you see yourself?
-Where does worth or value come from? What determines it?
I also want you to pay attention to how many of your stories are centered on how you look to other people or to yourself in the mirror.
How many of your stories assume there is a right way to be that is different from how you are.
The stories you are telling about who you are, they are shaping your present reality. They are telling your brain what to look for and find more evidence of. They are part of what makes up your relationship with you. So if they are past-based, if they are unkind, if they are focused on what’s wrong and not what’s right, they are detrimental to that relationship.
How we talk about ourselves
The way we talk to ourselves about ourselves, what we say to ourselves, is another integral part of our relationship with ourselves.
Often a part of our self-talk is centered on regrets about how we have shown up in the past. That might sound like mean-spirited questions: Why did you let yourself get this way? What is wrong with you? Why did you do this to yourself? Why did you eat that? Why are you so weak?
Questions are a way to insulate ourselves from the more painful statement version: You let yourself get this way. Something is wrong with you. You did this to yourself. You are so weak.
If you are unsure of how you talk to yourself, the loudest and clearest place to hear is when something goes wrong. When you don’t meet an expectation you have for yourself, you do something that goes against what you planned or wanted.
This is where your relationship becomes very clear.
So think about the last time you overate, or saw yourself in the mirror, or stepped on the scale-what ran through your head? What did you say to yourself about it?
Now alternately-think about what you say to yourself when something goes well. Do you give yourself credit? Do you celebrate you? Do you encourage you? Do you praise you? These two places will give you a pretty good idea of the state of your relationship with you.
Your stories about you and how you talk to yourself are determining how you feel about yourself. So if you would describe how you feel about yourself as insecure, inadequate, unworthy, unloveable, embarrassed, ashamed, etc…how you see yourself and what you say about yourself are the culprits…NOT your body or your weight.
And all of that-what you see, what you say, and how you feel…that dictates how you treat yourself, or what you do to and for yourself, which rounds out what makes up your relationship with you.
Some examples: How do you feed yourself? What is self-care to you and is it a part of your life? What about pleasure and rest? How do you dress yourself? How do you move your body or do you? Do you know what you like to do?
A healthy relationship
These are questions that you will ask yourself and know the answer to when you have a healthy relationship with you.
Your relationship with you, is made up of the same things as your relationship to others in your life. What you see in them, what you say about them, that determines how you feel about them, and all of that will drive how you show up for them-what you do to and for them.
So bring to mind someone you feel love for and answer those same questions about them.
Now think about how this differs from your answers about you. The love you feel for them and the way you talk to them and the way you treat them doesn’t come from their body or their weight, it doesn’t come from what they have accomplished, it isn’t impacted by every food choice they have ever made…it comes from the stories you choose to tell about them.
So that’s where we want to start in our relationship with ourselves. Once you know your stories, once you are aware of what you are saying to and about you, once you see how it makes you feel and how it all has you showing up for and treating yourself…that’s where you begin to step into your power to change it.
It has to start with awareness.
From there it’s about getting curious about why these are your stories. And then asking one of my favorite questions: what if something else is true?
“What if” at the beginning of a sentence signals that we’re about to pretend. When we ask “What if” and it’s followed by a worry statement…what we’re saying is “let’s pretend something bad!”
But when we ask “what if” in the spirit of openness and possibility…we’re saying “let’s pretend something awesome”.
You are using your imagination to create an alternate picture of you. And that in and of itself is the beginning of you believing something new. You have to first think it to create it.
So start by opening up to the possibility that something else might be true about you too.
And then when your brain offers you the same old story again, you have a counter argument. You can offer-well this is also true. We just want to begin to crack open the door to possibility.
A concrete example of this is how I changed my story about me and sugar. First I learned some facts about how sugar functions in my body and how my brain reacts to it and it allowed me to see that even though I didn’t want to be so into it…there was a reasonable explanation for why I was and it wasn’t a personal and moral failing on my part and maybe I wasn’t in fact broken.
I used facts and my favorite question “what if something else is true?” And I went to work on this other story I had about me and sugar…it was some version of “I can’t stop eating it. I am constantly eating it. I eat it all the time.”
Using a combo of facts and my imagination…what I realized is that I actually only ate sugar in like an 8 hour window of the day. I didn’t eat it in the middle of the night, and I didn’t ever want it in the morning. So from like noon to 8, I ate sugar.
Yes sometimes that is primarily or all I ate in that timeframe…but that was totally different than I can’t ever stop.
I could totally stop when I went to bed and all night until noonish. So that meant that what else was true was that I knew how to and was capable of not eating it. That was where it started for me. Just a small glimpse of the possibility that the story I had been believing, I didn’t have to keep believing forever.
Fast forward to how it’s going now-sugar has zero power over me.
I still like it, and I still eat it, but I go by how my body feels over how things taste 99 percent of the time now. I don’t eat it all day or even every day. And I feel happy and peaceful about that.
I really don’t think about it much at all. I tell and believe stories about me like:
Sugar is no big deal to me. I can eat sugar whenever I choose to. I love listening to my body.
I feel empowered and peaceful and relaxed. And I eat foods and amounts that feel good in my body.
How I see me and how I talk to me determines how I feel about me…and that is the fuel I use to show up for me.
It has changed everything.
Your relationship with you impacts every other relationship, including your relationship with food.
So focusing on changing your relationship with yourself is the most important thing to do when you want to change your body.
This is what we do in Love First Weight Loss.
We do the work to change our relationships with ourselves so that we can change everything else with love as the fuel. It is magic.
Head to itbeginswithathought.com/apply