You have a mother who laments your weight all of the time- no matter your size. You can be at your thinnest and certainly, she feels, you could do better. You could be at your heaviest, and she definitely lets you know it (because, for whatever reason, she has convinced herself that there’s no way you noticed on your own). She says, “You would be so much happier if you just lost twenty pounds.” The translation? She would be so much happier if you just lost twenty pounds, but the truth is she won’t be. Until she’s happy within herself, she’ll never be happy.
Here’s the thing. When people choose to offer commentary about your appearance, it is never about you. It is about them, about the thing that paralyzes them, about the story they have told themselves, about the narrative they are choosing to live regarding that issue. And because they are so consumed with that issue, they can’t help but mention it when they are with you, pinning all their insecurities, all their fears onto you.
“How can this be true?” A thin, tall student asked me one semester, tears presssed into the corner of her eyes. “A guy I worked with last night told me that I was too skinny. That he could never find me attractive because of how skinny I am. How can that be about him? It is not about him. It is about what is wrong with me!”
I turned to her, tenderly assessing her tears, hoping she could bring herself to hear what I was saying, to understand so that his words wouldn’t wound her so badly anymore.
“What are you too skinny for?” I asked her.
“For him to think I am beautiful,” she answered, wondering if I had gone mad and missed her earlier explanation.
“That’s right, honey. For HIS definition of beauty. For HIS understanding of things. He’s the one that has made it a rule to see beauty in just that one way. He is the one who made this rule that he can only date one type of woman. He is the one incapable of admiring anything outside of the beauty box of his understanding. He is the one that feels that beauty has to have such a narrow, unrealistic definition. Not you. Just because he said it to you doesn’t mean you have to believe what he does.”
Her mouth formed a sudden O. She got it.
Here is the truth: when someone tells you that you are not enough because of your hair, your eyes, your weight, your height, she is judging you based on what she believes to be true, what she has prioritized, what insecurities she nurses. It is not your stuff being shown to you with that comment. It is his or her stuff. That comment made to you isn’t insight into you? It is insight into that person and what he or she has going on. It is a reflection of them.
Today: I want you to write down a list of things you have chosen to believe because someone else told you those things. Now, I want you to go over your list and see the situation more clearly. How is that comment really not about you at all but about the person making that comment? Let each one of those old rules, standards, falsehoods go.
1. What does it feel like to consider that these comments you have heard are never about you? Can you see how that might be true in your situation?
2. What is one comment that you are no longer going to take as true about you and instead understand it to be a reflection of the person who said it?
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Excited about this journey? Want more? Pick up Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance for a year long plan and guidance.