I have been morbidly obese most of my adult life and I used to think it was impossible for any obese person to like themselves, let alone love themselves, and when I heard fat people say they loved themselves as they were, I didn’t believe them. I thought they were putting a brave face on an impossible situation.
Maybe you think and feel the way I did. If so, I’d like to share some of my story with you. I’ll also share an excercise which, if you choose to do it, will have a powerful impact on how you think about yourself. However, only attempt it if you are emotionally strong.
For about 41 years out of my 55 my weight has been a dominant factor in my life. Looking through photo albums, I can tell you exactly what I weighed in each photo and whether my weight was going up or down at the time.
I have avoided hugs and cuddles because I was afraid the person holding me might feel my rolls of fat and be disgusted.
I have avoided sexual intimacy because I could see and feel my bits jiggling, and I was ashamed and embarrassed about my body. It was beyond my imagination that anyone could find me attractive or sexy.
I have not applied for jobs or promotion because surely, they would want someone slim and vibrant not a big, fat, out of control lump.
I have refused social events because I was embarrassed about my size and what other people would think of me.
The list goes on and on and on …..
What it has taken me 55 years to realise is, it is not my size or weight that is the problem but my beliefs about myself. Once I changed those my life changed and became so much better than I could ever have imagined.
I learned that there are lots of things we can do to change the way we think about ourselves and I discovered it really is possible, no matter how unlikely it may seem, to really, really love yourself no matter what your weight, age, height or whatever it is you think is holding you back.
The most powerful thing I did was look at myself in the mirror.
I know that doesn’t sound much.
You may be thinking to yourself, “Linda, I look in the mirror several times a day. When I do my hair, when I put my make up on, when I get dressed, every time I wash my hands, etc” But, the thing is, when we look in the mirror to do those things we don’t really “see” ourselves. We see our hair or whether our top covers our bum or whether we need to reapply lipstick. We don’t actually see us, as we really are.
These exercises are very powerful and you may find them very distressing. Don’t do them unless you are prepared to work through all the negativity and self-hatred which may come up.
If you decide you are brave enough to do it, don’t give up until you come through the other side.
If it is too much for you, seek help immediately.
Mirror Exercise 1
Pick a time when you won’t be disturbed. When you are not wearing makeup. It’s just you as are you are naturally.
Look at your face in a hand mirror. All of your face.
The secret is to look at yourself as if you were looking at someone other than you. To look and listen to the person in the mirror as if they are your best friend in need of your help and understanding.
In the beginning you will probably zone in on your perceived faults but work past this and look into your eyes until you can see what your eyes are saying.
When I first did this exercise, I cried and cried and cried because I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror. My face was blotchy, my skin uneven, there were wrinkles and double chins I hadn’t noticed before. My eyes drooped and had dark shadows underneath. I was so ugly. Where had my youth gone? Why couldn’t I have been born pretty? Everything about my face and hair was horrible. I felt it was hopeless, I would never be how I so desperately wanted to be.
I reminded myself of other women. The photographs of old, extremely wrinkled women I had seen and how beautiful they looked.
I thought about famous older women like Judy Dench, Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith, to name but a few and how beautiful they all were in different ways.
I thought about my friends. It didn’t bother me how old they were or how they looked. What mattered was the love we shared and the fun we had, the trust, the commitment, etc. So, maybe it worked the other way and that’s how they saw me, after all there must be something they liked otherwise they wouldn’t want me as a friend.
Eventually, I looked at the person in the mirror as I would look at anyone else who stood in front of me seeking help. I looked into the eyes of the person in the mirror and when I saw the pain, the fear and the hurt reflected back at me a huge ball of compassion rose up inside me for the person in the mirror.
I no longer saw all the blemishes and the “faults”, I saw someone whom I had hurt so badly over the years.
I would never talk to anyone, the way I spoke to myself in my head. I realised I constantly criticised myself and put myself down. Nothing I did was ever good enough for the voice in my head.
I wanted to hug the person in the mirror.
I poured out how sorry I was, how I hadn’t realised the damage I was doing. How I had blamed other people and the outside world for my unhappiness and how I hadn’t realised how I hadn’t given myself the love and support I craved.
I promised the face in the mirror that in the future, I would be there for her. I wouldn’t put her down anymore but I would praise her and encourage her in everything she did. I would be her best friend.
Then something truly miraculous happened. The hurt and the pain in the eyes in the mirror, disappeared and I saw love and forgiveness. The ugly face vanished and I saw a large, mature woman with a twinkle in her eye and a smile on her face.
Now, whenever I look in a mirror, whether I’m washing my hands, cleaning my teeth or whatever, I have a chat with my “best friend” in the mirror. I ask her how she’s doing and if she’s feeling a bit sad or stressed or uncertain or insecure or anything else, I talk to her as if I were talking to my best friend. I tell her it’s okay to feel that way, that she is doing her best, that I’m confident she will find a way though, that I believe in her.
Keep looking at yourself in the mirror until you can look at yourself with love and compassion.
From now on, every time you are in front of a mirror, really look at the person reflected back, ask them how they are feeling, offer words of praise and encouragement, say the words to yourself you would like other people to say to you, have a positive talk to yourself. When you do this several times a day you will be astounded how amazing you feel and how your life starts changing for the better.
When you truly love the person in the mirror and support them 100%, even when they make mistakes or do something stupid or they’re having a bad moment or a bad day, your life will become better than you can possibly imagine and the best thing is ……..
No one can take it away from you, because the love comes from within you, it is always there, you are always loved.
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