You No Longer Have Permission
Back in March, I was listening to The Goal Digger Podcast with Jenna Kutcher during my lunch break at my desk. She was interviewing Kathryn Budig in an episode called "What You Never Knew About Yoga". It happened to be the day I finished the 30th day of Yoga with Adriene TRUE, so it felt like kismet that I just happened to be listening to this podcast that day. I figured the conversation would be a lot about the technicalities around yoga, what it does for your body, how to improve, stuff like that. Instead, the two women spent most of the hour-long episode talking about body image and body positivity, something they're both incredibly passionate and vocal about.
Kathryn said something that resonated with me so powerfully, it felt like I was hit with a ton of bricks sat right at my desk in front of everyone. She told a story about being a teacher on a yoga retreat in Mexico and saying to one of her students who had dealt with serious body dysmorphia, while they were in swim suits in the hot tub, that she chose that particular swim suit because it covered her stomach. How her student responded made her realise the importance of how we talk to ourselves and the severity of the words we choose for ourselves. She said that in all that time she spent speaking poorly of herself, she was giving others permission to speak poorly of her as well. In that moment, I decided I would no longer invite others to criticise me because I criticise myself out loud in front of them.
It all connects back to the concept of using words for ourselves that we would never say to other people. All humans have judgements and, like everyone else, I have sometimes judge others for their physical appearance, even just in passing on the street. Immediately after I have those thoughts, though, I chastise myself for thinking something so hurtful about someone else, even though I never even said anything. But then in the same line of thought, I might criticise myself and never once think twice about what I'm saying to myself. Why do I think terrible things about myself or go around talking about all the things I want to change, all the things I hate about myself, and just generally put myself down with words I would never use to speak to or about someone else?
It's a difficult transition to make, but it's a practice, isn't it? I need to make a conscious choice to not feel guilty about what I eat. I need to make a conscious choice every time I think something bad about myself whether or not to squash it and replace it with something positive. I need to make a conscious choice to not be self-deprecating in the name of humour or comradery.
Focusing on what I say about myself to myself and to others really reshaped the last months before our wedding, as well. It's helped me shift the focus from losing weight to what the day is actually about. I wasn't my "target weight" on our wedding day and some days I caught myself saying horrible things about my body, how I look, and how I would feel when I saw how fat I would be in the photos. I had to work really hard to set that negativity down and walk away from it. Some days I back tracked a little bit and thought about going back to it, but when the day finally came, it was the last thing on my mind. When I saw the first few photos, it couldn't have been further from my mind. Instead I saw joy and love. I'm so thankful that about 85%-90% of the time, I didn't tear myself down about what I would look like in my dress because that would have been a really shitty way to spend time leading up to such a happy day. It made me feel a lot more relaxed not just about "sweating for the wedding", but about basically everything around our wedding and certainly made me enjoy the last few months a lot more.
Our wedding is just one day, one event, one dress, though. This is something I want to continue to practice throughout my everyday life. To be clear, I don't want to use this mindset to not take care of myself, but I want to stop standing in front of my mirror and thinking "FAT". I want to stop telling myself I'm going to fail at my dreams and that I should hold my tongue because I have nothing to bring to the table in a conversation--personally or professionally. I would never say those things to someone else and I don't want to continue to say them to myself.
So I'm no longer giving myself permission to be self-deprecating aloud or in my head. I'm no longer inviting criticism because I said it first.