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Kick Your "Should's" to the Curb

Originally published at The Buffalo Wellness Center

I have learned a lot of valuable tools on my journey to become a life coach. Tools I get to share with my clients and use on myself – double bonus! Two of my favorites have been learning to listen to my body and discovering how to dissolve painful thoughts that cause suffering. One of the most amazing aha moments has been the realization that I have the power and ability to kick the “should’s” to the curb when it comes to negative thoughts about my own body.

Let me ask you a question….do you know what it feels like to love your body now? Not when you lose 10, 20, or even 30lbs. Not when you’re down a dress size, or when you have abs of steel. Can you sense what it feels like to love the skin you’re in at this very moment in time? My hunch is that the majority of us, myself included, have struggled with this idea at some point in life.

I have been on my weight loss journey for as long as I can remember. It started somewhere around the age of 10. I remember other kids calling me nasty fat names and thinking there must be something wrong with me and my body. This erupted into decades of self-hate and body shaming, trying to become someone different, someone better. I spent thousands of dollars on programs, products, and equipment. I have been on the weight loss roller coaster for a very long time. I’ve had great success. I lost 100lbs after my son was born, but it wasn’t enough. I still wanted to lose more. I was never happy with the accomplishments I made because I thought I should do more, I should do better. And then, when life threw a curve ball and I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I ended up gaining some of the weight back. This has been the cycle for me; push and shame myself to lose, then retreat and gain when my world gets rocked.

I got very tired of this, so I decided a different approach was necessary. And what better way to put my new life coach skills to good use? In the last year I have done a lot of internal work on this topic by self-coaching and by working with some of the most amazing coaches and mentors I have met along the way. Through this work I began to realize how badly I talk to myself and treat my body. My inner mean girl had full control over everything from what I wore, to what I ate, and what exercise program I did. Familiar tunes included “you should lose weight”, “you should look better”, “you should be a smaller size”, “you should work harder”, and of course “you shouldn’t eat that!!” Does any of this sound familiar? Thought so.

This is dangerous self-talk. How can we expect to get anywhere with these messages playing in our minds? Would we talk to other people the way we talk to ourselves? Think about some of your top tunes, the negative messages running through your mind. Would you say them to your best friend? Your daughter? Your mother? Why do we say them to ourselves? And how have we gotten so lost that we don’t know how to treat our own beautiful body? So, how do we break the pattern of negativity and learn to love our body now? We can start simply by recognizing that the thoughts exist, by noticing our inner mean person and the stories being told. Acknowledging them is half the battle, because only then can we start to feel our feelings and eventually turn those thoughts around. One day, just a few short months ago, I was in the midst of an amazing meditation. I started to imagine how I would feel without the stories of how I “should” look. If all that crap was wiped away, what would be different? For a moment I was able to see me without the noise. I was able to see my body without judgement, without shame. It was the most incredible feeling. It was freedom. I cried. You can try this too. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and imagine just for a moment that all your “should’s” are gone, you can no longer think them. What would be different for you?

I normally wouldn’t walk around a water park in my swimsuit, but this summer I did. For years I have looked at other women and wondered how I compared or measured up. This summer I found myself looking at them with so much love & admiration, realizing how incredibly beautiful every one of them is. I realized I used to spend a lot of time wondering what other people thought of me & how I looked. It hit me like a ton of bricks when I realized it’s only my opinion of me that matters; their opinion is about them. I started to see the beauty in women of all sizes. I found myself thinking how beautiful they looked. Then in dawned on me. Everything is a reflection, right? Could it be that because I’m learning to love & respect my body, I’m seeing beauty in other bodies instead of the judgement? I was blown away. It takes practice, and patience, to unwind the years of damage, but I can tell you it is well worth it. It’s hard to explain in words how incredible it feels to treat my body with the love and respect it deserves. There is a major difference eating and exercising when it comes from a place of love as opposed to hate, frustration, anger, or shame. It’s the same great food, the same workouts, but with the shift in mindset it is a totally different experience. (see the full article here)

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