We are bombarded by messages DAILY, both implicit and explicit, to start up the body project. The obsess-about-food,-eat-clean,-30-day shred-cleanse-detox-lose-unwanted-pounds-this is going to be a new start body project. These thoughts are echos of the culture around us. Sometimes the body project is handed down from well meaning parents like a relay race baton, "You gotta watch your figure!" Other times, these nasty, hurtful thoughts seem to sprout directly from our own brains, "You're so fat and ugly, tomorrow is the day you're turning this around."
It is sheer torment to live with these self-critical thoughts. Sometimes, it seems like the only way to get some peace is to do what they say: to engage in self-punishing exercise and food avoidance. Because then I'll get some relief, right? Perhaps, temporarily. But this voice is never satisfied for long. And it comes back with a venom that takes your breath away, speaking words wouldn't dream of saying to someone else. The truth is, living in the body project brings us pain. It wastes our resources, drains our energy, and takes us out of the meaningful life's purpose we are on this Earth to truly serve.
So, how do we live with these toxic messages swirling around us -- but not get caught up in them? It begins with a fundamental shift in our narrative, replacing the lies, e.g. "I'm unworthy and undeserving of love." to the divine truth, "I am enough. As I am in this moment. I am lovable, and deserving of care." You do not need [XYZ] to be enough, you already are.
5 ways to cope with the self-critical voice
1. ACKNOWLEDGE that your pain is part of the greater human experience, and part of a much bigger fabric of injustice: weight bias, body politics, fat-phobia, patriarchy, diet culture, capitalism, and violence against women. Educate yourself. Stay in the stream of body liberation discussion! Attend workshops, read books, listen to podcasts, join FB groups, follow IG posts, make friends with other advocates.
2. REJECT DIET CULTURE in all its forms. Move your body for fun. Eat for pleasure and to feel good. Break every single rule the eating disorder ever made.
3. BE CAREFUL ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA. Comparisons abound, even if you're looking at someone's perfect shiplap walls, it can make us feel inadequate! Follow content that brings your humor, joy, love, connection to others. I prefer funny memes, videos of cute babies and puppies, Game of Thrones content, rock climbing videos, and other things that make me happy.
4. FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT. I read a love-letter that I wrote to my body nearly every day before I leave for work. There are some days I don't believe it. But I believe that I did at one point, and I can get back there, again.
5. SURROUND YOURSELF with body-positive, non-diet community. It makes all the difference in the world to be hanging out with a crew of friends who never. shame. their. bodies! And never shame their food!! Yes, those people are out there. Find your bopo bubble.
It is possible to live with our self-critical voice. To shrink it down like a teeny, tiny speaker. To make it soooo muffled that you can barely hear it sometimes! For the days when it gets loud and abruptly in your face -- make sure you have a support system, whether that is friends, family, partners, therapists, or non-diet-itians.