Last week in my body image classes, we were fortunate to have an amazing guest speaker share some of her body image story with us. It was so generous of her to share her story with me and my students and I was struck by the fact that I learn something new every single time she visits (and this was probably her 6th visit or so).
This time, when a student asked if she still gets hurt by the things that well meaning people say to her, her answer really struck me.
“I take what people say to me as a gift now. I get to ask myself, ‘How am I doing this to other people?'” She shared and then admitted that she could find moments where she was doing something similar.
Although she has always thought that her own experiences made her more sensitive to someone else’s plight, what she was realizing was that sometimes she replicated the cycle and even though she could rationalize that her words were more kindly delivered or born of greater sensitivity, it was still her viewpoint about what was good for someone else that she was sharing, rather than allowing that person determine for herself whether or not she needed a haircut, lipstick, a new dress, or whatever.
Her observation got me thinking about my own delivery.
How am I doing this to other people? Where am I judgmental and/ or too suggestive about someone else’s reality or next step?
The next time someone says something- about your body, your parenting, your work, whatever- that really kinda hits you, I want you to first tell yourself that it isn’t really about you. But the next thing I want you to do is ask yourself how you are doing this in someway to someone else. Maybe you aren’t and, if not, hooray! But maybe you are. You open yourself up to the best type of learning when you see what you don’t want to be doing more clearly and can work to correct it.