Wednesday, January 12, 2011
In the past, my life was divided into “good” days and “bad” days. The determining factors were how flat my stomach was in the morning, how much I weighed, how my pants fit that day (which was especially risky had they been recently washed), and how I stuck to the diet I’d obsessively planned out the day before. Complete self-torture.
Because what defined “good” for me was driven by need for my body to be perfect, almost every day became a “bad” day. Whether walking along a strip mall in Kansas or traipsing down Broadway in NYC, my sense of self was determined by how I looked compared to everyone else I passed on the streets … and on my most days, I couldn’t compete. Today I feel fortunate I don’t live like that anymore.
What I realized, after many therapy sessions, is that I am the one judging myself and making up crazy rules about how my day will turn out. Essentially, I am choosing to think badly or highly about myself. Why do I want to be that mean to myself, really? Has it helped me thus far? When I used to ask myself these questions, the answers were usually that I hated myself and it hasn’t helped me. If I can choose to be negative, then I can certainly choose to think positively, and thus feel happier.
Today, I don’t define my days in such black-and-white terms. I can easily get caught up in negative self-talk, but when it happens, I don’t entertain it. I look at it like a symptom that’s telling me something else is going on, and then I reframe my thoughts. None of us are perfect, but we all have positive qualities that make us who we are. For anyone struggling with these issues, I’m here to tell you, There Is Hope!