|Dahlia Sweet Dahlia by Marcia Baldwin from here|
During my radio interview with Ingrid Talpak last week, I was so impressed with, not only how nice she is, but also the quality of her interviewing. Being a first-timer I was pretty nervous and hoped I would say the right thing, and Ingrid helped enormously by always having well-thought out questions and helpful remarks in between.
Ingrid’s insightful knowledge of all things chic and French made me think she could have instead interviewed herself equally well! One of the questions Ingrid asked towards the end of the interview has had me thinking over the past few days, and it’s about how we sabotage our chic selves.
I knew immediately what she meant because I do it sometimes, and maybe you do too. I never understood exactly why I could happily be running along my chic path, easily choosing the healthy food option and feeling good about things.
Then one day the crappy ‘foods’ and laziness I’d left behind would knock on the door and invite themselves back to stay, like unwanted and unmoveable guests.
Whenever I was in a good space I’d have this niggling fear in the back of my mind that I couldn’t sustain it and had no control over it. I’d be waiting for ‘bad Fiona’ to resurface. Honestly, I felt like there were two of me sometimes.
Well, I think I’ve finally worked it out. Even though I am a calm and carefree, fun person on the surface, I can be very critical of myself underneath. I honestly think this is where all our dieting angst, which is epidemic, comes from. We separate our mind and body like they are two different beings, but they are together, fused for eternity. I know that, but I didn't know that.
Is it any wonder I felt like there were two Fionas? My mind was constantly picking on my body saying things like:
Don’t be lazy, get out for a walk
If you eat that icecream you’re going to get a sinus headache, don’t be stupid
It’s your own fault your clothes don’t look good, look at what you eat
You’ll always have a fat roll, just face it
You’re a lazy slob
Can you imagine a loved one talking to you like that? Or you talking to a loved one in that manner?
Now, what do you do if someone well-meaning (or not) gives you unsolicited advice. Do you take it and say 'thank you' then do what they suggest? Maybe. Or do you think ‘eff off, I'll do what I want thanks’ and go back to more of what you've been doing. Exactly. That’s what I was doing to myself - rebelling against my own well-meaning but badly formed 'advice'.
I’ve read for years about ‘accepting yourself’ and ‘loving yourself’ but it just sounded like a load of new-age-softie-doesn’t-work to me. Except… it does.
By treating myself like a good friend or a loved family member (which I am both actually) I feel more calm and don’t feel the need to rebel against myself. The self-sabotage is dropping away because there’s not this internal push and pull.
Whenever I get the old feeling inside me and I’m being hateful towards myself, I remember my new way of being and think things like:
I’m ok, everything’s good (just like you’d soothe a child)
My body is perfect for me (I tried ‘my body is perfect’ but it just made me think of supermodels, so I added ‘for me’ and that mantra sinks in easily now)
I choose whatever I want, I make the choice
I am slim and healthy today and always
I am safe today and always (I say this one a lot, it helps me not worry about that big bad world and scary looking people)
Thank you - just repeating thank you over and over feels peaceful. It can be 'Thank you for all that I have' or 'Thank you' and then list all the things that come to mind, or just plain and simple 'Thank you'.
I also think of myself as if the thought is coming from someone who loves me, and imagine them cuddling me and appreciating me, imperfect body and all. And in fact, my body’s not imperfect, it’s perfect for me.
There are certainly many ways we self-sabotage ourselves, but for me, my main issues are with food and exercise so that's what this post focuses on.
The beautiful thing about directing my thoughts towards being nice to myself rather than the opposite is that my mind is not searching for ways to wreck things. It’s not wandering around while I’m looking the other way, digging up a craving for crappy snack foods.
No, my mind is happy and non-critical, meaning I can carry on with a normal life and eat normal foods. Such a seemingly small mind-shift and it has huge results.
Now that I'm not being an over-critical, perfectionist nagger to myself, most of the time I happily prepare healthy meals and don't crave the gross stuff as much. I have had one craving so far, which was still there after a number of hours, so I bought a single-serve portion and ate it without guilt then went back to normal. Score!
I also look for ways to fit a 30-50 minute brisk walk into most days. And I've exhumed my weekly yoga class which has had a lengthy hiatus. Thankfully it's still there, and the same lovely ladies I'd see each week welcomed me back again.
So my encouragement to you, is be nice to yourself. Filter everything you say in your mind through a question like 'would I speak to a dear friend like this?'. If the answer is 'no', try changing your thoughts to something you would say as/to a kind and supportive friend.
I promise you, even though this may feel a bit fake to start with, you'll soon get used to it and it will even begin to give you a warm and loved feeling, because that's what you're doing. And while that's happening, self-sabotage will be quietly exiting your life, knowing it is no longer welcome or wanted.