As a former Anorexic in my twenties, I spend almost 40 (!!) years disliking myself and mentally punishing myself for enjoying eating, after all, too much enjoyment leads to weight gain!
Part of my recovery as an Anorexic was to teach myself to enjoy eating, to not feel guilty about taking care of my physical needs, and by extension, enjoying the food was really good for my mental health.
As I was aging, my metabolism slowed, and when Menopause came early, it took a nosedive. It became very challenging to walk for the fun of it and for the health benefits, instead of mentally calculating how many miles I had to walk to burn off the calories I had eaten.
This was a massive paradigm shift I needed to actively participate in because I wasn’t enjoying how I was speaking to myself when I beat myself up over something small.
I’m 60 years old now and it was only a few short years ago I started the process of teaching myself to like myself. I was a pro at disliking myself, finding the smallest reasons to do so, and then verbally abusing and berating myself until I had fallen into a depression.
No matter the age we are, teaching ourselves to like ourselves is a challenge. Throw aging into the mix, with the changes in skin texture, hair texture, body shape, body abilities, (*gasp) wrinkles, and looking less like our 20-year-old selves but more like our own mother, well the struggle is real!
I read Wynne Leon’s article “One Thing to Love” as a guest writer on Navigating the Change, replied, and was inspired to flesh out an aging post of my own. I hope you’ll visit Wynne’s blog, where You’ll find humor mixed with awesome wisdom under the guise of offering tidbits of parenting advice/family news!
In One Thing to Love, Wynne wrote:
I can relate to that; there’s an art to looking in the mirror to see if I have food on my face without taking all of myself in. There’s an unfamiliarity of what I see when I do look in the mirror, as if the sag by my C-section scar and the cellulite on my arms don’t belong to the person I think of as me.
In the disconnect, I can’t figure out if I’m supposed to change my body, my mind, or my spirit to reconcile the disparity. Listening to that podcast, I finally had an a-ha moment—it doesn’t matter how many ab and arm workouts I do. Trying to match the image of my twenty-something self will always be a losing proposition. The only work that will be effective is updating how I see myself to be current. That doesn’t negate the need for me to work out to stay strong and healthy, but working out will never bring the self-acceptance that comes from making friends with who I am now.
I too was very challenged by this whole concept of loving and accepting myself for who I am now, at 60, and not trying to fit myself into the long-gone image of my 20-year-old self. I spent most of my life disliking myself, and now I laugh at the meme circulating on Facebook “I’d like to be the weight I was when I thought I was fat.” I think we can add “when I thought I was ugly”, for that’s a real challenge!
We don’t always realize our positive attributes until they’re gone, then we mourn them. Ironic isn’t it?
In teaching myself to like myself, I admit that mirror sessions recommended by Louise Hay were challenging. I found it difficult to say “I like you”, and really mean it.
I now try to look tenderly at myself, to be gentle, and to be positive in my feelings towards myself. I try to celebrate who I am now that I’ve come through the storms. I try to celebrate being healthy and vibrant, thankful for the ability to still do a number of things that have been denied to many due to age-related illnesses.
Yesterday I surprised myself when I said to myself that maybe it’s okay to not worry about gaining the 5 or 10 pounds from enjoying food, instead of constantly limiting my portion sizes, especially desserts! (This is huge for a former Anorexic!) LOL!
I love being able to look in the mirror now and be able to feel positive about myself, to not immediately start looking at my “flaws”, for the perspective of aging helps me to realize I was hard on myself for nothing.
I realized somewhere along the way that my future older self would always see my beauty, no matter how terrible I feel I look in the moment. I think that realization helped me to release the angst I felt when I looked at myself, and instead just focus on celebrating my life and all my milestones.
Imagine if we each could internalize this to ourselves, to allow ourselves the freedom and the grace to exist in our current reality instead of trying to squeeze into a box from the past?
Imagine how you’ll feel… I hope you will work on shifting these perspectives in your own life and actively release the negative self-talk and judgmental negativity!
Self-acceptance is precious! I’m not going to lament all the lost years and make myself feel guilty for not knowing what I know now, instead, I’m going to celebrate this new knowledge and the inner freedom it gives to me!
As Maya Angelou says,
“Do the best you can until you know better.
Then when you know better, do better.”
I hope you’ll poke around my Archived Posts to find a wonderful trove of supportive and encouraging posts!
I’m sharing more posts that may be helpful for you:
- 10 Steps to Owning Our Happiness
- Setting “Boundaries with consequences”
- Making a change… “How do I take that first step?”
- Affirmation: Today is a new day! I can do this!
- As we practice being gentle and kind with ourselves, we actually help to speed the process of helping our lives become more positive!
- Always believe that wonderful things can happen!
- A healthy outside starts from the inside!
- Brain Rewiring
More good stuff:
- Teaching ourselves to like, even to love ourselves
- By changing our inner dialogue, we change EVERYTHING!
- Challenge: When a negative thought enters your mind, think three positive ones. Train yourself to flip the script!
- Red Ocean or Blue Ocean? How do you think?
- An answer to dealing with the Inner Critic!
- My top 10 most viewed posts, plus a few bonuses!
- A helpful trick to be able to overcome negatively Comparing Ourselves to others…
- Do you only accept yourself if you look a certain way?
- A new you! Is this possible?
- Start today, start tomorrow, just start!
- There is no enlightenment outside of daily life – Thich Nhat Hanh
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Guided Journals help you work on a particular issue by answering questions to help see patterns and to find solutions:
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