Five years ago my daughter, Cara and I were getting ready for her Sweet 16.
One Sunday after church, we planned to go buy some decorations and then hit the Palisades Mall to catch up on many of the things that we needed to get for the party.
From Having so Much Fun...
At first we had a blast floating through the aisles in Michael’s® and playing around with all the beautiful silk flowers, and feathers, making different arrangements combining the two elements. Then we paid for our purchases and left.
To Not so Much
I wasn't looking forward to doing the shopping for shapers. In fact, I dreaded the idea of wearing a shaper again. Back in my Weight Watching days, I wore girdles all the time, but since I no longer feel the need to squeeze my body into uncomfortable clothes, I’m so much happier embracing my curvy hips. But that day I felt insecure about going without for the party so I decided to wear a shaper.
As we first entered the lingerie department of Macy’s, I went through the racks of the various shapers, bras and corsets, and pulled out several and headed to the fitting room.
Starting to Crumble Under the Emotional Weight of the Shaper
Cara and I chose a room big enough for both of us and we began the process of trying everything on. My first pick was a shaper that was a size 2X. I looked at it and for the first time noticed how incredibly small it was. Then I started thinking about girdles and what they’re supposed to do. And I equated putting one on with trying to stuff a sausage into a casing.
As it lay in my hand, it looked about the size of a large onesie for a toddler. As I undressed and stood looking at myself in the mirror, I could almost taste the old familiar feelings of insecurity getting a grip on me. When I dressed for church that morning, I felt great and was really comfortable with my curvy shape, but I could feel that same ‘love my body’ certainty was beginning to crumble under the weight of my inner critic. The old voices started shouting, gaining momentum.
Slowing Down and Being an Observer
Annoyed with myself for letting this even get to me, I decided to slow down my monkey mind by paying attention to the thought parade going on inside my head. As I started to slowly slide the shaper over my left foot, it became clear to me that this shaper wasn’t going to sliiiiiiiiide over any part of me. I could sense my body getting hot as I felt my anger starting to boil. I told Cara, “This is nonsense. I’m so sick and tired of trying to squeeze into clothes that don’t fit me. I just have no tolerance for it. I refuse to let this damned stupid shaper make me feel fat.” But despite my verbal protests, I could feel my heart sinking.
Without even giving it a second thought, I decided to calm myself down by doing some tapping on the side of my hand and on my acupressure points so that I could relax my nerves. As I tapped and thought about all the fears and anxieties I felt, they began to feel ridiculous and unreal. After just a few moments, I bounced right back to being my sassy self.
Sitting topless with my left foot still in the shaper leg, I looked up at Cara and was really present to how I felt.
Yes. I was angry. But I didn’t want to take it out on myself. I didn’t want to blame my body, or call myself names. Instead I calmly reached for another 2X shaper. As I pulled it over me, I promised myself that if it didn’t fit, then I was willing to go and get the next size up. I refused to feel sorry for myself because the shaper didn’t fit me. I wasn’t too fat. I just needed a bigger size shaper. There was no shame here. I was bound and determined to win this war. As I slipped the dress over me, I could see that the shaper wasn’t doing me any favors. I never knew that I could be so happy leaving a store empty-handed.
On the day of Cara’s big party, I was curvy and confident wearing the dress without the shaper. I knew I looked great.
What I Know For Sure
Now a a month away from 54 years young, I love knowing that I'm no longer a victim of my insecurities. For the most part, I am the master of my mirror. Sure, I still get fleeting thoughts filled with fear and self-doubt. That's natural, everybody does.
But the difference is that I now know that's not real. Despite the fact that I have bad hair days, don't always look pulled together, I'm a worrier, a recovering procrastinator and perfectionist, when the chips are down, I can conjure up my own confidence because I'm proud of who I am and what I have accomplished. My self-esteem is no longer a hostage of my changing body.
I’ve been through too many years and cried too many tears trying to fit in, yearning to be liked, and loved by others. Now I’m happier with myself standing up and standing out and teaching other women to love and respect themselves at every size. I’m not afraid to rock the boat. That’s just who I am. Despite the fact that I’m fat, my body is the smallest part of me and I’m so much more than just a collection of body parts. And so are you.
Here's the takeaway for you:
When you catch yourself arguing with your body and focusing on your flaws, you're buying into an illusion, thinking of your body as the problem. But it isn't. Consider that you've been walking around in a trance, and you've become so used to focusing on all your flaws, that you've lost sight of all of your amazingness.
Whenever you are getting totally swept up in all the negative self-talk chatter in your head, you can use tapping, also known as EFT or Emotional Freedom Technique works to shift gears from a negative outlook to a positive one.
That's why I got my sassy back after I tapped. That's my secret. Tapping is what I do every time my fears get a grip on me. I want to encourage you to tap too.
The problem is not your fat thighs, your rounded belly, your wrinkles, or your changing hairline. The problem is the stress in your life that's making you feel fearful and insignificant. That can show up in feeling of betrayal, anxiety, anger, sadness, apathy or exhaustion.
The way you feel about your body changes according to how you feel about your life. No matter how strong you are, sometimes the insecurities still creep in. Your relationship with your body is like a moving target. It’s always shifting and changing based on how you feel about yourself.
The truth is you are so much more than a body. You are a spiritual being inhabiting a physical body.
Whenever you look in the mirror and feel disgusted by what you see, just remember that your flaws are not your curse and you can change the way you think just by switching your focus to something that makes you feel better. We tell ourselves stories all day long.
Sometimes we get caught up telling ourselves stories that make us out to be the victim. Like me, you may have been through some really tough circumstances, but the fact that you're still here, means that you're a survivor and you're stronger than you think you are.
Let's end this post with my favorite quote from the movie, "Penelope"
"It's not the power of the curse. It's the power you give it."
How 'bout you? Have you been walking around telling yourself some pretty rotten poor me stories? How could a shift in perspective change that?