Unlearning something is hard.
But not impossible.
My journey into loving myself was 30+ years in the making, and I’m 42. 🙂
Growing up in a home where dieting and body shaming was the norm, I learned at an early age that physical appearance mattered, and so did the ability to perform. I interpreted and internalized this, believing the more and better I could perform, the more and better I would be loved.
I also learned that if there was anything in my world I could control, it was food and exercise.
Before too long, food and exercise controlled me. And I hated everything about who I was.
I didn’t want to attach morality to food.
I didn’t want to attach my worth and value as a human to the size of pants that I wore.
I didn’t want to attach my performance to earning love.
But I did.
Because I thought if I could just hit my goal weight, my goal pant size, and perform a little bit better, then maybe I would be worthy of love and acceptance.
And if I was accepted and loved, I would be happy.
I struggled to believe that people in my circle genuinely liked me for me.
No matter how much I wanted to just “be normal,” I found myself stuck in the performance-based, restrict, binge, create a new plan, promise to stick with it, cycle.
It affected every aspect of my life.
Until a few years ago, I was in a position where I had a clear choice: I could be completely vulnerable or I could continue in the cycle I desperately wanted to escape.
I was scared to death, both from the fear of being rejected and the fear of changing.
Choosing vulnerability was the best choice I have ever made.
The years of internal pressure, guilt, shame, and fear were exposed, and I felt free. I knew the real work had yet to begin, but I also knew it was a MASSIVE step in the right direction.
For a long time, my days started with visually taking out my old brain and putting in my new brain. Daily I practiced catching, releasing, and replacing my thoughts, my words, and my actions.
But I didn’t beat myself up over it anymore. I was able to recognize how entrenched I was to a belief system that operated in my mind as absolute truth.
When I realized (and believed) there was another option to my “truth,” I was committed.
I knew that if I was serious about learning to love myself…no matter what…just as I am, and right where I was, the process would take the time it was going to take.
A few years into this journey, I can confidently tell you that I love myself. I am proud of the internal work that I’ve done and continue to do. I am proud of learning to sit in discomfort and undo years of destructive habitual thoughts and actions.
And I am proud of giving myself the space and grace to be human, to love, and to be loved. 💛