As Delta Delta Delta sorority's "Fat Talk Free Week" comes to a close, I'm curious: How did you do?
Were you able to refrain from making critical comments about your body? Were you able to avoid making jokes at your own expense? It's a noble effort on the sorority's part -- to bring awareness to the world of the unkind words that women hurl at themselves, too often under the guise of female bonding.
But there's another kind of "fat talk" that's less obvious. I'm talking about the internal dialogue we have with ourselves. True freedom from "fat talk" isn't just about biting your tongue before the self-criticism escapes your lips; it's about silencing the inner voice that tells us we aren't good enough...that we must "improve" ourselves...that we can be "perfect," if we'd just try hard enough.
It's a battle that takes much more than a week to fight.
Over and over, I hear from women that they want to accept themselves. They want to let go of the chase for elusive perfection. After a lifetime of waging this internal war, they want peace.
It starts, I think, with the uncompromising belief that we can choose -- at any moment -- how we're going to react to what comes our way. Please don't mistake me for saying that people aren't entitled to their feelings. We're human, and sometimes we'll feel sad, jealous, envious, inferior and all the other emotions we use to put ourselves down. But when those waves of feelings roll in, I'm confident that it's always my choice as to how I want to see myself. Like standing in the surf, I can let that wave drag me down or I can let it wash over me and stand back up. It's my choice.
Sound easy? Nope...it isn't.
But recognizing my ability to choose is an incredibly powerful thing. Every time I make the choice to treat my body well with reasonable exercise and healthy foods, I send myself -- and the world -- a message. Every time I choose to replace an unkind thought about myself with a more positive and forgiving thought, I'm consciously changing that internal dialogue. As the dialogue changes, so does the behavior. When I think confidently -- even if I have to fake it to myself a bit at first -- I begin to act confidently. And when I act confidently, the world meets a different person.
In my experience, people haven't treated me differently because I've lost or gained weight. Those differences have happened because of how I felt about having lost or gained weight. It's my internal dialogue and the feelings it creates in me that has shaped the way I see and react to those around me. When I haven't felt good about myself -- when my internal dialogue is negative -- I don't want you to look at me or talk to me. Guess what you see? An unfriendly, aloof person. Negativity feeds on itself.
Try this experiment today: Every time you have an unkind thought about yourself, say, "That isn't true." Act as if you're the person you've always wanted to be. Turn off the internal "fat talk," or whatever dialogue it is that keeps you feeling unconfident. Greet the world as your version of your best self.
Let me know how it goes...