Waking Up to Your Truth
We lose our power when we avoid the truth. We lose our power when we walk around pretending that we are okay when really, we are uncomfortable, unhealthy, and unhappy. Admitting to yourself that you’re in a deadlock with your inner bully can feel nearly impossible. But then committing to doing everything you can to get out of the problem you have come to see as completely overwhelming, well, that feels like an insurmountable amount of work.
The truth will set you free, yes, but it will first piss you off. There is no inconvenience that is too great. There is no amount of work, when it’s for your highest good, that isn’t worth it.
When we face the truth, we release anxiety. Anxiety is a function of not being in our truth; it’s a sensation that gives us feedback to let us know that we are living in a reality that is harming our soul in some way. There will be times that will be uncomfortable. Maybe you’ll even feel like throwing this book away because some of the truths are often going to be uncomfortable.
No Pain, No Gain
Pain is how you know something is out of alignment (the immediate, sharp pain of a broken bone), but suffering happens when you make the choice not to take steps to alleviate the pain—allowing the bone to heal without having it set properly so that it aches for the rest of your life. Emotional pain is momentary and it’s often a sensation we feel in our bodies like physical pain. Now, if you aren’t connected to your body, then it can be difficult to experience or interpret the physical sensations of emotional pain.
But it does happen. Think about when someone says they have “butterflies” in their stomach. What does that mean they are feeling emotionally? You know immediately they are nervous—we’ve all felt that. When someone says that they are “heartbroken” or even “in love” they often physically press on their chest to emphasize where they feel the emotion they are experiencing. These statements are not just random phrases, but evidence that we as humans universally tap into our body’s intuition, experiencing a physical sensation and location in the body for each emotional state. When we are aware of our bodies and listening closely, we can feel our emotions physically and use sensation as a guide. Emotional pain, like any other kind of pain, has a physical home in the body.
It is reasonable to think: I am in pain, therefore something is out of whack and I need to correct it or heal from it. But it is completely unreasonable to think: I am in pain, therefore I am fundamentally flawed and I will always feel this way.
Perfect Is the Enemy of Great
Perfectionism is a bitch. It’s debilitating—that feeling of wanting to make a move but being completely paralyzed. Afraid to be wrong, afraid to fail, afraid of not being loved unless everything is completely under our control. Anything less is failure.
Perfectionism is the voice we hear on the regular. It’s the relentless whisper that drives us into a state of extreme hustle. We hustle for our worth in hopes that someday we will reach the ultimate shining goal of “perfect”—showered in love and honored with respect.
It doesn’t work, of course. Our extreme state of hustle never lands us where we actually want to be. The image in our mind of all that love and respect doesn’t occur because it isn’t a realistic expectation. Perfect is never attainable, and so we always land at not good enough. And if we are not good enough, then no amount of attention or accolades can make up for it. And so we either hustle more, thinking the next goal will be the one, or we collapse in our failure to become perfect. It is a vicious cycle.
You may be sitting there thinking, I am not a perfectionist; look at all the ways I am failing in my life right now. But that would be your perfectionism talking. Because here’s the thing about perfectionism: The struggle to be perfect is so insistent that any tiny mistake seems like complete and utter failure. So you are in a constant loop of working too hard and then shutting everything down.
This all-or-nothing mentality is a classic trap. When we buy into the idea that we have to be perfect, and then shut down when inevitably something goes wrong, we completely fail to see all the good we have accomplished.
Taking Off the Mask
Imagine speaking the truth of how you actually feel on a regular basis, unafraid of judgment. Imagine answering with the truth each time someone asked you how you were or, rather than showing what you think people want to see, you showed people the truth of what is going on with you on the inside. How freeing would it be? How light would you feel, unburdened by shame and expectations?
Another benefit of speaking your emotions and removing that mask: It eliminates fake friends in a hurry. When we show people our truth, we allow them to love us anyway, but if they don’t, just show them the door. The people around you are all at different places in their journey with self-love and self-acceptance as well, so they might not be ready for your truth. So maybe you reconnect when they have grown emotionally or maybe not, but once you have taken off that mask, don’t put it back on for anyone.
As a culture it is not just food and body issues that we are in some serious denial about. We seem to be allergic to talking about anything that makes us feel slightly self-conscious. Imagine what it would be like to really open up about how messy we can actually feel on the inside.
Doing the Work
It’s perfectly fine to admit that you hate your body. It’s perfectly fine to be in a space where you are on the path of love and acceptance, but to acknowledge you haven’t magically gotten to the end overnight.
what matters most is how we feel about our bodies, not what we think, or wish we could think, or what social media tells us to think. There is a huge difference. If we try and change our thoughts—repeating over and over that we love our bodies, just hoping that saying it will make it so—without addressing what is really happening in our visceral, intuitive bodies, we will ultimately be taken over by the feelings of unworthiness that make up our true conception of ourselves.
Stage One: Understand You Don’t Hate Your Body
This first stage is about recognizing that you don’t hate your body. You may hate what the fat represents on your body, but not the entirety of your body. Let’s get one basic fact straight: Without your body you wouldn’t be here reading this book. Perhaps you have a story that the fat on your body represents being unlovable, unworthy, or undesirable. Maybe you have a story about your body being out of control or lazy or unable to change. Whatever reasons you have for being at war with your body, whatever meaning you have attached to your body’s shape and size, hear this now: Your body is a friend, not an enemy. As you will ultimately discover, your body has allowed you every amazing thing that you have ever experienced in your life.
Stage Two: Body Acceptance
Allow yourself to be okay with what is, knowing that you ultimately get to set the vision for how you want to feel in your body. Any feeling you desire is possible—and you will get there in a sustainable way, not through fear, restriction, or overexercising. But at the moment, you need to start by simply accepting where you are. There is no love without acceptance.
Stage Three: Body Neutrality
Body neutrality is beyond acceptance because you can accept something and still not like it. In this case, you’re simply removing judgment. Your body simply is.
Stage Four: Path to Body Love
Once we master neutrality, where we no longer hate our bodies but we haven’t yet landed in a place where we feel love for them, we can slowly begin the process of loving our bodies. Remember the time line for this process is much longer than what your mind will decide it should be; you can’t set a schedule for love. This step will take the highest amount of patience and kindness, and it will not happen overnight.
Allow yourself to take as long as possible through these four stages, being in each stage fully before moving on to the next. Maybe right now your body feels like the scariest place to be, and that’s okay. You are on your own path and, whether that journey is short or long, the fact that you are on it is beautiful and you should celebrate it.