On social media today, I saw a post about a woman (a playboy model, so ‘beautiful’ by cultural standards) who took a picture of a naked woman in the showers at the gym where the model was also working out and wrote over the picture some horrible thing about the naked woman – body shaming her.

She then posted this photo to social media.

Besides the fact that this is illegal and just so wrong on so many levels, in the thread beneath the post that a friend of mine had shared, there was a comment about how yes, this was extremely wrong, unkind, and a despicable thing to do, but she also commented on how this is a bigger symptom of our culture at large and how this woman (the playboy model) had probably been objectified and told that her self worth was wrapped up in the outside package of her body.

This made me pause to think and I began to have some compassion for the model.

Don’t get me wrong, I still think that what she did was completely inexcusable and she should be punished, but I also began to wonder: how she is already punishing herself?

It also made me wonder what she’s saying to herself on a daily basis.

It starts from within.

If we don’t have compassion and love for ourselves, then how can we expect to treat others in that same way?

We tend to treat others the way we treat ourselves.  Which is a big clue as to what is really going on inside.

If we are are beating ourselves up about how our body looks, or how smart we are (or don’t feel we are), or how bad we are at X, then we are probably going to be feeling pretty awful about ourselves – whether we are truly conscious of that or not.

We often belittle, gossip, or tear down others when we need to feel better about ourselves – it’s a sad projection of what is happening in our inner lives and how much (or little) love and compassion we are showing to ourselves.

Ouch.

I know this hits home for me as it’s something I have been looking at a lot over the last few years.

I am EXTREMELY hard and critical of myself.  I realized I was being extremely critical of my husband and it really bothered me and I wanted to stop.

So I had to take a look at where that was coming from.  Why did I feel the need to criticize him so much?  I realized that I was beating myself up so much about all kinds of things that I started to look at him to see where he wasn’t measuring up to my crazy standards.

This is so sad but so common.

I felt out of control with a lot of things and I felt pretty horrible about myself.

So I started to think about this.  And I started to really listen to the chatter within.

Ugh.  It wasn’t pretty.  No wonder I was so unhappy.

I also realized that all of the things I was beating myself up about, were things I wanted to change but had been unsuccessful with.

For example – I struggled with my weight and overeating.  So I would beat myself up for ‘cheating’ or eating too much or how my body looked, or….. you get the picture.

And then I also started to think about that.  I realized that I would never say those things to a friend, family member, client or anyone struggling with something.  In fact, just the opposite.

I knew that if I were to say belittling and negative things to anyone who was struggling, they were less likely to change or feel encouraged to change.  No one ever changed something because someone said mean things to them.  Change starts with compassion and support.

So – why would I say such negative, horrible things to myself?  Goodness sakes!  No wonder I had such a low-image of myself.  And no wonder I was having a hard time making the positive changes I wanted in my life.

How am I supposed to create a body and life that I loved when the whole time I am hating on myself?  Hate definitely doesn’t create love.

How am I supposed to create an environment where I am trying to change into something I ‘love’ all the while belittling and hating myself?  Do I really think that I can hate myself into losing weight and not overeating and then suddenly one day wake up and love myself?

No.

I had to start from the inside.  I HAD to change the internal dialogue to one of love and compassion.  I had to start appreciating myself for the amazing person I am TODAY.

How to do this?  How do we turn that oh-so-mean voice inside my head to one that is loving and supportive?  It’s such a habit to think the mean, negative things.

I had said those things for so long that I BELIEVE them – whether I want to or not.

So – how did I change this? How did I change those beliefs?

I can’t just say something different and think I am going to love myself overnight and believe those words I was saying….

I had to FEEL it to be able to change it.

One of the biggest things I work on with my clients is understanding that our thoughts create our feelings, which create our actions, which then creates the results we are getting in our lives.

I will talk more about this in next week but in order to change a habit or result, we first must change the feeling which is the result of our thoughts.  hmmmmm ….

So I needed to change the thoughts that were creating the feelings I was having about myself which then lead to the result of (NOT) losing the weight I so wanted to lose.  I had to start with something I could believe and FEEL good about.  So I started with baby steps.

I started by saying things I could believe and feel good about.

For example:  I know my body is strong (and I LOVE that!).

I know I am healthy (and that is amazing and I am soooo lucky!).

And I found a myriad of things I truly believed about myself that were positive and I started replacing the negative dialogue with those thoughts and feelings instead.  I would write them down each day.  I would post them around the house as a reminder.  I would stop the negative dialogue when I caught it and change it because I honestly KNEW that those negative things weren’t true.

I changed that inner dialogue a little bit at a time.  I would catch the old things coming up and change them to something positive about myself that I believed.  And the more I said these things, the more I felt them and the more positive things I started to DO that supported those beliefs which lead to more positive results.

Brilliant.

I felt more capable of listening to my body and what it wanted – truly wanted – to be nourished.

I began to trust.

I began to overeat less.

I was much happier AND I as a became less critical of myself, I also criticized my husband less and less.  Whew.  I love my husband and don’t want to cause him any pain!

So – one of the first things I work with my clients on and know that if they change ONLY ONE THING that would make a HUGE difference in their journey to stop the overeating madness:

I tell them to stop beating up on themselves.  Stop the self flagellation and self hatred and begin to change that inner dialogue to self appreciation, compassion, and love.

This will change you life. And the lives of those around you.  Trust me.

You are beautiful.  You are amazing.  You are worth the love and compassion you have for yourself.  It starts from within and when you show yourself that love and compassion, you will SHINE and the rest of the world will see that too.

Isn’t that beautiful?

Now I want to hear from you about ONE thing you can start saying to yourself TODAY that you know about yourself that you love and feel good about.  Please let me know what you will start saying RIGHT NOW that will start to change that internal dialogue and those negative feelings to positive feelings of self love and compassion.

Can’t wait to hear from you!