Friday, August 15, 2014

The Self-Sabotage Solution?

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.


  1. What a valuable and fantastic post Fiona. Thank you for writing this. Compassion towards ourselves is so important and it's new to me too, but I'm enjoying practicing it now because it works and it feels so much better than always being critical.

  2. I totally agree with your comment about being hard on oneself with negative mind chatter. I have a friend who is a psychologist and she told me that the secret was to look in the mirror first thing every morning and tell yourself how much you love yourself. I was very skeptical but strangely enough it does seem to work. I think it is helping to bring the mind and body together to work as one.

  3. Such good advice. I'm so much harder on myself than I'd be to anyone else.

  4. I was in a group once where the leader, a social worker, had us read a book that talked about all the different identities we carry around in our heads. Some of the exercises in the book involved naming and picturing these identities and having them talk to each other. It sounds a little wacky, but it actually is very much like what you are talking about, only more further refining the "bad" you and the "good" you. And one of the most important points the book made was, that in having these internal conversations with your different identities, treat them all with respect and kindness. I found doing this very enlightening.

  5. Fiona, I am thrilled to have discovered your blog earlier this week! It is always such a gift to come across a blog written by somebody who is like-minded and whose voice really speaks to you. I have enjoyed reading your archives and look forward to following you regularly.

  6. Isn't it funny how advice that you truly need comes at exactly the right time. Your blog post was that advice for me. Well done.

  7. Love what you said here! It's a keeper Fiona. And I listened to the interview while at the office yesterday and I think you were sweet, poised and very intelligent sounding. Well done!

  8. I love this post. I am extremely critical of myself, and i struggle all the time to be positive, especially in regards to the body image. Really, that is quite cruel. I will definitely try and change the mind chatter.


  9. Stephanie, I agree, compassion towards ourselves really does work. I can feel myself relax and my mind shifts imperceptably, then the thought I'm fighting against just melts away.

    Sonia, isn't it amazing that the information is all around, but until you're ready to hear it, you don't? Love the mirror technique and can imagine it is quite challenging to start with.

    Jen, thank you, and we all are, wouldn't it be wonderful to change that? What a revelation.

    Anonymous, ahh, respect and kindness, so lovely. Because even the 'bad' you is still a part of you. Thank you.

    Melodee, thank you!

    Kristien, it really does.

    Thanks Donna, you are sweet. As lovely as your blog.

    Jane, thank you for your comment, which makes me feel sad (for all of us because there are lots of people who have this) but also excited for you. So much can change and it can start right now. And the funny thing is, being nice to yourself and accepting yourself doesn't mean never changing your body size. Once you speak lovingly to yourself it happens without effort. Junk food thoughts just drift away whereas if I'm struggling against them they get me!

  10. Fiona, your words are so wise! It is so important to be nice to yourself. Food and exercise can be issues for many of us but self-acceptance is important to being chic. We have to ignore our own nasty voice or anyone else who makes unkind remarks. Find those great aspects of yourself and promote them every day. The not-so-good things will fade away and disappear.

  11. Wonderful words Fiona! We all have that nagging demon of insecurity sitting on our shoulder, no matter what age, and trying to shut it up sometimes seems impossible. Trying to still our minds is a lifelong quest, and takes lots of practice, but, practice we must. Whenever I feel this self kind of loathing, I stop, breathe and try to feel the love in my heart, the things I feel grateful for, no matter how small, and sometimes, although a bit morbid, think of what the alternative could be! Sending you positive thoughts of love and peace from across the world. x

  12. Very nice post/article Fiona. You do a lovely job on your blog. Glad you enjoyed our Tiffany party!

  13. What a fantastic insight, Fiona! "That’s what I was doing to myself - rebelling against my own well-meaning but badly formed 'advice'." Who wouldn't rebel against someone who constantly nags and berates? But I never thought that by doing this to myself, I'm creating my own negative reaction. "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." So, so true. I'll remember this.


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...