“You didn’t know me when I was hot”……I overheard a mother say to her daughter in the dressing room. A pretty typical conversation girls and women have when looking in the mirror, right?
“Oh God, I hate my stomach. I have so much cellulite. My thighs are huge. My legs are like shriveled chickens. My butt’s too small. I’m a fat pig. My muffin top is gross.”
I know this dialect of body shaming. I was an expert at it. My words turned to actions when I began practicing bulimia. For the solid years my words, thoughts, feelings and actions led me down a dark road of self-hate and physical abuse. I was the sole perpetrator.
I was what you might call a “functional” bulimic. Functioning, happy and apparently okay on the outside, but hateful and condemning in my private hours of self-loathing.
I did not suffer the extremes – ingesting massive quantities of food followed by laxative abuse. However, I purged regularly and even began spontaneously throwing up because my body became so practiced at the behavior.
But, what I really suffered from was an exaggeration of seeing a problem and making it bigger, deeper, and more persistent than it was. I suffered from an incessant internal critical voice, hyper focused on my “flaws” both real and perceived.
I suffered from resisting the real feelings I felt: loneliness, anger and fear.
When I look at it now it’s all so simple. I was running a pattern of, seeing hearing and feeling thoughts that led me to a negative destructive conclusion. It was as if I was building a body of evidence to prove what I hated about myself.
It took conscious work to undo the unconscious patterns I ran and it still requires vigilance especially of my critical voice. But I am willing to listen, evaluate and mostly dismiss and shift those images. I’ve been free of practicing bulimia for over thirty years. When I binge, it is on compliments and self-love that feed me.
Here’s the thing; we make things more complicated than they usually are. We allow ourselves to think ourselves into problems, find the evidence, and magnify them by the images, words/voices and feelings we keep running unconsciously on autopilot.
Say for example I wanted to go to New York and I began my journey in Florida. If I found myself in Colorado I could spend a lot of time asking Why and How I got there, berating myself for the stupidity of my actions, for the time wasted, and for all the wrong turns. I could go on and on with the story, or I could decide if I really wanted to arrive in New York.
I could look at the map
ACCEPT WHERE I WAS
APOLOGIZE TO MYSELF (and others) FOR GOING ASTRAY
MAKE A DECISION ABOUT WHERE I WANTED TO GO
FIND THE PATH
STAY ON IT
KEEP CHECKING to make sure I was on it
CELEBRATE GETTING THERE
By recognizing how we think ourselves into problems, (the creation of pictures, feelings and sounds in our minds) we can also literally alter, shift, and change those.
We CAN create the images, feelings and voices we want.
Whether it is body shaming or celebrating, feeling stuck in a relationship or growing, we have the option to use the exquisite computer between our ears. We can literally reprogram our brain with an upgrade.
Want to practice feeling wonderful? Try this brain pattern upgrade exercise of Neurolinguistic Programming from Richard Bandler, the co creator of NLP, in his book Get the Life You Want.
- Think of a time you felt wonderful.
- Close your eyes and imagine that time in vivid detail. See the image clearly, hear the sounds loudly, and remember the feelings like they were then.
- Imagine yourself stepping into that experience and imagine being in that memory as if it’s happening now. See what you’d see, what you’d hear, feel how good you’d feel. Make the colors brighter if that helps. Notice how you were breathing back then and breathe that way now.
- Pay attention to the wonderful feeling in your body and get a sense of where the feeling starts, where it goes and the direction it moves in. (feelings are ENERGY and energy is moving in your body) If you can’t tell what direction it is moving begin to spin your finger in one direction if it gets stronger that is the direction your energy is moving. If it doesn’t get stronger spin your finger in the opposite direction till you feel the energy increase. Imagine taking control over the feeling and spinning it faster and faster and stronger and stronger through your body as the feelings increase.
- Think of a time in the FUTURE where you could use these good feelings. Spin these feelings throughout your body as you think about the future and the things you are doing over the next few weeks. Don’t be too surprised if you find yourself feeling really good for absolutely no reason.
The more you practice anything the better you get at it and just like my body got used to spontaneously throwing up, training your brain to feel wonderful for no reason is like creating an automatic feel good drip dumping hormones and endorphins that light you up.
The more you practice anything the better you get at it and just like my body got used to spontaneously throwing up, training your brain to feel wonderful for no reason is like creating an automatic feel good drip dumping hormones and endorphins that light you up. What thoughts will you magnify? What practices will you create?
Make Believe~Make Belief Affirmation: I can create the images, voices and feelings in my mind that lead me where I want to go.