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There is a pervasive toxic belief in our culture. So many women & girls believe that there is something about them that needs to be fixed. We are not ok as we are so we spend incredible amounts of our valuable energy (and money) trying to either hide our broken parts or finding the ultimate FIX.
As a culture, we are afraid of being broken. So much so that we will do just about anything to fix ourselves AND the people we care about, especially our children.
The harder you work to hide or fix the parts of you that feel broken, the more likely it is that you will have excess weight on your body and turn to behaviors like compulsive eating and self-sabotage.
When you meet yourself in a place of love and healing rather than fixing and hating, you can end the battle with your body, release both physical and mental weight, and finally move forward. When you meet your daughter in this same place, and really put down the need to fix her, you change the future. Women and girls are bombarded with messages of “be skinny, be pretty, be whole,” and wouldn’t it be amazing if the messages in our heads and our homes were “You are just right.” I believe that when a woman heals, a daughter is empowered.
Can you see broken?
When did we decide that broken is bad?
What if broken is a choice?
. . . or better yet, what if you could truly LOVE broken?
How does being broken fit into the story of women and their relationship to food and their body? There is an entire multi-billion dollar body industry that is perpetually selling women ways to fix themselves. Diet books, fat burning pills, shape-wear (as if it’s not bad enough to hate your body you have to be REALLY uncomfortable while you’re at it) and even plastic or drastic surgery.
All of this billed as the REAL solution, the final fix, and then what? You’re no longer broken? Perhaps you were never broken to begin with and after all of that hard work and discomfort, you ended up worse off than you started. You tapped into this collective idea that skinny is whole and now here you stand, unable to move forward.
First: fractured or damaged and no longer in one piece or in working order.
Second: rejected, defeated, or despairing.
From one former chronic dieter to the rest, I raise my hand and say “YUP – I was broken.” Every time I walked past a mirror or stepped on a scale, the message was loud and clear. You are FAT and you always will be. I was most certainly rejected, defeated and not in working order. I made promises to myself that once I was skinny, then I would be happy. Then life would begin. I would be fixed.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that all of this hate, shame and even HOPE I had for my body was keeping me broken. I couldn’t move forward and be a player in my own life because I was stuck in a perception of myself that made me so desperately want to check out. And how did I check out – with food and isolation. And just like a broken record, this pattern repeated itself over and over and over again until made a choice.
There are 4 key distinctions that contribute to a woman either feeling whole or broken in her body. As tiny little girls, we often have a healthy functionality in all 4 of these concepts. As we grow up, and begin to make meaning of the messages in the world, dysfunction can occur, making us FEEL broken.
PURPOSE – Who are you? Really young girls hardly question this. They know what they like to do, what kind of clothes they like to wear and what things really excite them. All of this without much regard to what others think. It is what I call LIVING WITH PURPOSE. It’s raw, it’s real and it’s whole.
Where the dysfunction comes in is when young women or even mature women, are stuck in trying to fit into someone else’s purpose. Whether that be a family dynamic, a social circle or the collective idea of what a women or girls should be. I should be skinny. I should be pretty. I should get married. I should exercise for 2 hours every day. I should have long hair, paint my nails and shop at the finest stores. When you catch yourself saying I should, you can bet you are navigating away from your true self. Your purpose.
BELIEFS – What do you believe? Think of the little girls again. They believe in magic and fairy tales and happily ever after. They dream and they often dream big. When that dysfunction of purpose becomes your reality - for example, “My purpose is to get skinny so that I can finally live my life”, your beliefs become toxic.
When your identity is built around restriction, punishment and frustration, can you imagine what your belief system looks like?
In order for your beliefs to set you free and to allow for what you really want to come forward, they need to be directly connected to your FUNCTIONAL purpose. Think about it, what would your purpose be, who would YOU be, who would your daughter be, if your beliefs went something like this:
I love my body
Movement makes me feel good
I am blessed with amazing relationships in my life
I am creative
I have amazing gifts to give
I am excited for today
BODY IMAGE – How do you imagine yourself? There was a time when you loved running around naked. It made you giggle and it felt incredibly free. Then somewhere along the way, you got the message that the body was something to hide, especially if it doesn’t fit the cultural standards. The problem is that we don’t really want to hide. Hiding is stressful. If we are hiding, there must be an enemy so our system goes on alert.
Real, physiological stress chemistry is created in our body while we live in judgment. It diminishes our digestive power and dulls our pleasure receptors, which means more fat storage and a bad mood on top of it. We begin to resent the body for making us hide. We hate the body because of what we believe and ultimately because of who we think we are SUPPOSED to be in this world.
Changing the way you feel about your body is a powerful tool in changing the way your body looks. So many women have this backwards. They think that changing the body will allow them to love it when in fact, allowing yourself to love the body now allows it to change. As you become who you are supposed to be, the body will become what it is supposed to be.
LOVE – What is your capacity to LOVE? Is your love conditional or Unconditional?
As a coach, I often have women come to me wanting desperately to be fixed. They want to be skinny, happy, in control, confident and of course whole and they want it NOW. I believe that the problem is not so much being sad or uncomfortable or even broken. It’s the belief or experience that being any of these is wrong or bad. Are you courageous enough to really sit with what doesn’t feel good?
As a parent, can you sit with your kids discomfort without rushing to fix it, making them feel wrong for being in pain? Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Functional Love is unconditional. It means loving others, your body, your life, without placing rules upon that love. Functional love is vulnerable, sweet, precious and powerful.
When love comes with rules and conditions there is bound to be pain, which is very different than discomfort. As human beings, we are programmed to do all that we can to avoid pain and that’s where conditional love gets us in trouble. If my rule is that I will love my body when I wear a size 4, and I’m currently wearing a size 14, that hurts. I’m literally denying myself love because of a rule. As a child, maybe I learned that being sad or hurt, got me some ice cream and then I felt better so, in pain, I reach for the one thing that I know will make me feel better but it doesn’t work. I still don’t have love so the cycle repeats.
To truly heal from body hatred and release excess weight, I believe you need to celebrate your authentic self, pay close attention to the rules you create for yourself, see yourself as beautiful NOW and practice unconditional love for self and others – always.
When my daughter was about 2 years old, she had this little pink stuffed rabbit that was like her security blanket. She LOVED that bunny, so much that we had to make a rule that it didn’t come out of her crib. When we would go to put her into her crib she would often grab the bunny and bite it. It’s like that saying “I love you so much I could eat you up.”
One day, I came into her room and saw her biting the little pink bunny and I noticed that the nose had come off. I remember saying “Oh no, it’s broken.” My little girl sighed, still holding the bunny as she stared at it’s newly chewed face. Then, she pulled the bunny to her face and in the sweetest 2 year old voice she said “It’s ok. I love you broken.” I didn’t realize then what a simple but HUGE lesson she was teaching me.
At any given time, I can choose to see something about myself as broken and sink down into a sludge of toxic thinking and get stuck. I also have the choice to HOLD broken, to love it anyway. I believe that every woman and every girl is whole at some level of her being right now, even when there is work to do. And I believe that as women, loving ourselves broken, whole or anything in between is how we as a culture will set ourselves free.