It’s Monday, and I am angry.  Again.  “It’s time to get back on track and resume my weight loss plan”, I said sarcastically to myself.  I continued on, “Because after a week-end of your version of debauchery, you won’t reach your goals as you planned.” And as I continued on with the scolding, I felt more shame, and then more anger.  “I thought I had this under control”, I said to myself.  “I thought that after all of this time, and knowing all that I know, that this next phase of my goal would be easier.”  I silently let out a sigh as the frown on my face grew and my energy continued to drop.

shame in not getting it right

I began to notice the switch in pronouns as the conversation in my head went from “my” to “you” and “your”.   The use of “my weight loss plan” was taking ownership of the plan, except was I really taking ownership of the entire plan?  As in, was I taking ownership of the plan in terms of mindset, compassionate self-talk and reflection and caring for my body in a loving way?  And who was the “other” person in the conversation?  Who was talking to me and telling me that if I didn’t get my shiz in gear that I wouldn’t reach my goals?  Was that even me, or was that someone else?  

I began to question with curiosity where I would have picked up that scolding from.  I must have heard or read those same admonishing words a thousand times in a myriad of ways throughout the years.  I recognize now that it was the same voice in my head that has been there for years, who was always ready to chastise me again for what I had not yet accomplished.  And I felt the same sense of shame and worthlessness as I did the first time I heard it when my school grades weren’t perfect scores.  

This sense of perfection plagued me for years in nearly every area of my life.  The tongue-lashing I received was a very loud, domineering voice in my head – and it was a voice I both revered and feared.  Yet, it wasn’t even my own voice – it just sounded like it.  Once I learned that being perfect was the way to earn smiles, rewards and love, there was simply no other way to be.  Anything less than that wasn’t good enough, and I would be met with disdain and disapproval.  

This wasn’t just about academics; it was about my weight, too. Today, I often wonder why a 12-year old girl would be on a “diet”, and I am curious as to how the dieting concept found its way to me.  Where did I hear that concept, and where was it reinforced?  I attended church with my parents, and I remember many of the ladies talking about losing weight.  Some joked about how things weren’t going well, and others promised to get back on track.  No matter what they said, there was always a sense of disappointment with self on their faces as well as in their energy.  They would all continue to strive to reach this state of thinness that would be acceptable to themselves, and perhaps to others.  The implication was that it would allow all of the other things to come into their lives that they truly wanted.  

women discussing weight

My mom talked about losing weight for as long as I can remember.  By her own definition, she was successful many times, and then she would gain the weight back.  There was a picture that I remember so vividly of her with my sister, and she would point to it and say, “Look how thin I was.  I looked so good.”  There was always the follow-up sentence of, “I really need to lose weight”, followed by a long sigh and sense of disappointment once again.  As a young girl, it seemed that the only acceptable outcome was to be thin and get back to a certain size or weight no matter what.

Disclaimer: I realize I am running the risk of putting this all on my mom, her friends and other young women, but this is not my intention. I am simply using it to illustrate how some of this became deeply ingrained within my psyche.  The indoctrination of “unworthiness” may have begun there unknowingly, and none of them could know the impact of their own persistent discussions about weight. It wasn’t just the ladies sharing “diet talk” that impacted me, but it was at school, too, where perhaps one is even more vulnerable to the social norms that are learned and established.

Unbeknownst to my mother, I would peer over the shoulder of the gal in the bus seat in front of me who was looking at strikingly beautiful models in swimsuits and expensive clothes in the latest magazine. (Today, all of that can be viewed on social media!)  While I don’t recall anyone ever saying out loud that we needed to look like those models, we were each picking up on the subtle cues of how others responded to the photos with the, “Wow, she is beautiful”.  I am sure we each thought, “Boy wouldn’t it be nice if others viewed me in the same way?!”  Heck, even as adults, many of us in our 30s, 40s and 50s are still having those thoughts! 

Picking up on those subtle cues is how we begin to learn behaviors that allow us to be accepted and part of the “tribe”, if you will.  Those subtle cues are picked up and translated by the brain, which are later converted into thoughts (and take years to decipher).  They can sound something like this:  “If I look like her, then others will like me and I will be accepted.  If I am accepted, then I can be part of the group.  If I am not part of the group, then I will be alone.  And being alone and disliked will be painful.”  

Of course, no one was consciously thinking those thoughts, but on the level of the subconscious mind, being a part of a group means survival.  We must remind ourselves that primarily the brain is concerned with survival, so those thoughts did serve a purpose at the time. 

teens viewing social media

Let’s go back to those thoughts for a second:  “If I look like her, then others will like me and I will be accepted.  If I am accepted, then I can be part of the group.  But if I am not part of the group, then I will be alone.  And being alone and disliked will be painful.” 

Stop and think about that for a moment.  It might sound ridiculous now, but it wasn’t exactly like that at 11, 12 or 13 years old.  Let’s ponder how the subconscious mind may protect us and help us when we are younger. At those ages, we haven’t developed the ability to decide what we want to think and how we want to feel.  So many of us embody what sounds good at the moment, and we mostly embody things that don’t ostracize us, although there are limits as we grow up (such as values) to that desire to be accepted. Not everyone responds this way as there are a few of those who cannot be separated from what they know is true no matter what.  I was not one of those, at least when it came to how I felt about myself.

As I sit back and ponder all of those nuanced ideas, I can’t help but ask myself when do I get to live the life I deserve to live?  When will it be my turn?  Yet somehow the answer of “right now” never comes up.  I was living in the mental prison of my thoughts, and I used them to bribe myself with promises of rewards and love, and punish myself if I wasn’t compliant.  If I didn’t follow the plan exactly, a tongue-lashing was lying in the wings.  After all, I had already embraced the idea of not letting myself off the hook.  Almost all of the coaches teach that, right?

This isn’t about who’s right and who’s wrong, and which teaching philosophy you should embrace.  This is about compassion.  This is about being your own advocate.  Seriously.  With all of the tongue lashings, who is coming to your defense?  If you aren’t your own best friend, who will be?  You and I both know that we have said things to ourselves that we would never say to a “best friend”.  So, why do we tolerate berating thoughts when we would never tolerate them from someone else?

woman self-criticizing

It’s because our thoughts are mostly on auto-pilot, and too often we don’t even know they are thoughts we consistently have.  But we feel the energy slump as the shoulders drop.  We feel the innate disappointment with self.  We feel the judgment and the shame.  Yet as an adult, if someone said those same things to us out loud, many of us would be hurt, but we would react in defiance.  Perhaps we would curse them out and then cry in silence.  And then later, we would find a way to never converse with that person again. 

I believe that we succumb to the internal voice because it’s ours even if those thoughts were ones we picked up along the way.  However much those thoughts seem to derail your best efforts, they did serve a purpose at one time.  At some point, you decided (whether you knew it or not!) that it was best to embrace the thought than reject it.  At that time, all of the “pros” fell on the side of “embrace this thought” for your own survival. 

Your voice was always powerful, and when you were young, your subconscious made split second decisions to ensure you would make it to the other side.  Then, as an adult, perhaps we never realized it was necessary to decide if those same decisions were serving us. 

If you’ve ever attended a Tony Robbins’ event, you know that you can make massive shifts in every area of your life.  One exercise that I found to be so powerful that it literally made me shake was one which was a part of the Dickens’ process called, “I am the Voice”.  The event is centered around taking back control and becoming the dominant force and voice in your life.  Since I generally believed I was powerless as a creator of my life, it’s no surprise that this exercise was difficult for me.  

I still hadn’t recognized many of the thoughts I had weren’t mine, and when I tried to take control, perhaps a part of me wasn’t ready. Or perhaps it was the part that didn’t believe I could take back control.  I would cry and shake as I tried to confidently yell with authority, “I am the Voice! I will lead, not follow!”  Not only did this happen during the UPW event, but I would cry and shake as I tried the exercise once the event was over, and I couldn’t quite get the words out. I never quite understood why this would happen.

(If the video is still up, you can listen to it here. You won’t have the same experience as if you were in the event, but you absolutely will feel how powerful it is!)

I see now that I had not let my own voice of wisdom come forward.  I was still a victim to thoughts I had picked up along the way, and they were louder than my own voice of knowing.  Dr. Joe Dispenza talks about taking inventory of your thoughts in one of his courses, and I urge you to do this.  There may be many thoughts that persist that you are not aware of.  

Consider the following:

When your “dieting plan” goes off the rails, what do you tell yourself?

When you promised yourself you wouldn’t eat sweets again – and then you did, what did you say afterwards?

When you said you would “start your new diet” on Monday – and then you didn’t, what did you say to yourself about why you didn’t start Monday?

When you realized you still couldn’t get into that new pair of jeans or dress, what comments did you have about that?

Every thought you’ve ever had about yourself started with someone else’s idea about who you are or who you should be.  Think of your loving best friend who is always compassionate – how does she feel about you?  What would she say to you when things are not going the way you had planned?  If you were your own best friend, would you condemn your efforts to create a healthy body, or would you lovingly support and recognize every daily effort put forth?  

While it’s my desire for you to be loving and compassionate to yourself, I also want the powerful YOU to come forth.  You don’t need anyone to empower you – this is a gift you give yourself!  That empowerment begins with standing up with confidence and letting your subconscious know which direction you will be leading.  And this is a good time to practice taking back the control using, “I Am the Voice”.

Now I am the voice

You don’t have to give credence to the voices and thoughts that were never yours to begin with.  Right now is a good time to take inventory of your thoughts, and begin the divorce proceedings of those thoughts you plan to leave behind.  You’ll recognize them as the scoldings.  The tongue-lashings.  The dominant voice that seems to imply that you’re not good enough, or that you can’t do it, or that you’ll never get it right.  

Screw that!  Your entire life IS about an experience, an experience that you create…an experience that allows you to grow and flourish as you were meant to.  Visualize yourself cutting the strings to the mental prison of thoughts that are preventing you from leaping forward with your dreams of having what you want and being who you want to be.  Unleash the Vibrant Rebel inside and let her stand up tall and say, “Now, I am The Voice!  I will lead, not follow!”  

You don’t have to wait until you lose weight to give yourself permission to step into who you are!  You are already that!  When you were born, there was a Universal Celebration because another soul would thrive and add to the expansion of the global collective!  

You are already worthy.  

You are already beautiful.  

You are already incredible.

You are already becoming all that you need to be.

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