Happy Fifth Day of Awareness Week! Tomorrow is wear purple Friday, so if at all possible, wear purple tomorrow to remember all those who lost the battle to their eating disorders! Today’s post is something that I have been looking forward to writing for sometime. Last year during awareness week, I got the privilege to right an article on Body Snarking for Seventeen magazine. If you would like to read that article, here is the link: http://www.seventeen.com/health/peace/eating-disorder-awareness-day-3. In that article I talked about the harmful effects of negative body to and about others may cause, but today I am going to talk about negative body image and personal body snarking.
Personal criticizing and comparing ourselves to each other is something everyone struggles with. It is through these acts of skepticism that we can do the most damage to ourselves. Many when asked who their worst enemy is, reply with themselves. We are our own worst enemy. We hold ourselves back, tell ourselves we are undeserving, and not good enough. It is this type of behavior that leads to unhealthy thinking, and by default, unhealthy actions.
While writing a post a few days ago, I remembered a particular moment when my body critiquing was at an all time high. When I was at my worst, I remember the negative thoughts being such an integral part of my every day life. These thoughts were so consuming that I failed to acknowledge each time a new negative thought sprouted. I was so use to thinking poorly of myself, that I never even noticed if I were to come up with an additional negative thought of myself. This example demonstrates the danger of this type of thinking. Someone once told me that negative thoughts are dangerous and powerful because they are untrue and “like any good lie, the more you tell it to yourself, the more you begin to believe it”. We put ourselves into a position where we truly believe these negative thoughts about ourselves because we have told ourself so many times that they are true. The trick now is to acknowledge the negative thoughts, remind yourself of why they are lies, and replace those thoughts with positive ones. I’m going to give you a personal example from yesterday:
Yesterday, I put on a tank top that I did not believe fit me properly. As I was staring in the mirror I caught myself beginning to give in to the negative thoughts in my head. After I recognized my thoughts beginning to drift in the wrong direction I re-directed them. I told myself “Yeah, these shirts aren’t my favorite. But I really like my hair today”. Something as simple as redirecting your thoughts and replacing them with something positive can make all the difference. Although this example may seem a bit silly, I hope from it you are able to draw the message I am trying to portray.
Another thing I want to talk about is the tendency some of us have to not take proper care of ourself. At some point, we all have done it. When we become stressed out, we often times tend to neglect our bodies. We don’t get enough sleep, don’t give our body the proper fuel it needs, don’t allow the down time that we deserve–basically we run ourselves into the ground. This practice of depriving your body of the things that is deserves is becoming more and more common and society, and it must be acknowledged. In order to perform properly, we must listen to out bodies. Acknowledging hunger cues, getting an adequate amount of sleep, and getting some fresh air/exercise are all things that our bodies as for. I know at times we feel as if we can bypass the needs of our bodies in order to complete a task, but it is these sorts of tendencies that get us into trouble. It is the action of depriving our bodies that leads us to these negative mindsets.
Right before I entered treatment, my whole life revolved around my eating disorder. I had gotten to the point where I had starved my brain for such a long period of time that I had lost my ability to rationalize. I was unable to understand, or even acknowledge the damgage that was being done because I was: 1. So engulfed by the negative thoughts of my disorder, and 2. I had starved my brain so much that is was practically incapable of rationalizing a life without an eating disorder. This stage I refer to as the “disorder ditch”. The disorder ditch is a hole so deep that there is no way to possibly visualize a life without the it. I remember this place being terrifying, and the thought of taking away the deadly disorder that I had been living with for many years was even more scary. It is this point of self incurred fear that I felt the most hopeless, but alas, 2 and a half years later I am able to talk about how I made it through, and how my suffers reading this can too!
I would like to wrap this post up providing everyone with what I believe to be the tools to acceptance. In order to be happy, you must first accept yourself–your imperfections, your struggles, your accomplishments, and everything in between. We must be able to pick ourselves up after a bad day, and continue fighting. That being said, we must also be capable of acknowledging our feelings. Whenever we feel happy, sad, stressed, excited, ect. we must acknowledge it. Experiences the triumphs and the devastation are what allows us truly live. I am a strong believer that you have a better appreciation of your happiest, grandest moments after you had previously suffered. It is all of these components that allow us to live our healthy lives.
I asked one of my friends and role models to compile a little paragraph on how she approaches health, happiness, leadership, and overall peace. Although she has not suffered from an eating disorder personally, she demonstrates how I would like to live my life. She is always happy, encouraging, and an excellent person to look up to . So without further adieu, here are her thoughts on the subject:
Self-confidence is one of the most vital qualities that a woman can uphold. Without having assurance and courage to live in your own skin, you cannot devote yourself to other aspects of life. From my experience, it is essential to empower women to be proud of themselves for all of the great things they accomplish, but also to be proud of their bodies.
As a student at the University Southern California, there is continual pressure to maintain exemplary body image, and there are high, and even sometimes unrealistic, needs to present ourselves on a daily basis. With all of this in mind, it is not only about looking good, but about feeling good in your own skin and being confident in what you have to offer as an overall person.
As a leader of my Greek community, I am constantly striving to find ways to educate and empower not only the women of my own chapter, but of my entire Panhellenic Council. This council is comprised of young, college-aged women who are all experiencing transitions. Fortunately, as a leader in the Greek community, I have the opportunity not only to influence the 200 members of my specific chapter, but to collaborate with other chapters to positively impact over 3,000 women in the Greek community on a whole. Together we have done consistent programming on educating women about what it means to be healthy, how to feel good in your own skin, and how to be confident in yourself.
I think it is essential to love yourself everyday. If you wake up every morning and tell yourself one good thing about your body, you will provide that self-assurance that is so vital in life. One quote that resonates with me by Oprah is that “it is confidence in our bodies, minds and spirits that allows us to keep looking for new adventures, new directions to grow in, and new lessons to learn – which is what life is all about.”
Everyone is unique in their own way. What makes a confident individual stand out from the next is if she is able to embrace that unique way and take pride in herself. That is why I think self-assurance is the most important thing you can do for yourself. Without this confidence, we lose the sense of our being, and we are not able to progress as individuals.
I hope you all enjoyed her insight as much as I did! Thank you again for all of your continued support, and I hope you all wear purple tomorrow in support of those who lost their battles.