From Shame to Compassion
This is a photograph of my family, circa 1975. I’m in the middle, wearing a dress with tiny flowers that was made for me by a dressmaker. Not because it was a special occasion, but because they didn’t have a good selection of dresses for my age at Lane Bryant. I was about 9 years old in this photo. I know, you can’t believe it, right? I look at least 12. My sister, also in the photo, is 4 ½ years younger than me. To say I was an awkward ‘tween would be an understatement. I was large kid naturally, and then when food became a source of comfort and security for me, I became larger. I was bullied and manipulated by some of my peers, and even a couple of teachers. I towered over all of my friends. I always felt different. The way I felt about my size and body at this time was excruciating and consuming, and though I didn’t have words for it back then, it was shame.
Shame. It’s insidious, isn’t it? Brené Brown, in The Gifts of Imperfection, defined shame as:
“the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.”
For me, it took a whole lot of healing to move from shame into a place of compassion and acceptance. I had to anchor myself to a whole new way of thinking. I found the work of Geneen Roth and Susie Orbach back in the ‘80’s, first for myself, later as my professional foundation. I was even an on call therapist at one of Geneen Roth’s early mega workshops. I participated in the early efforts of the size acceptance movement, now gaining ground as Health at Every Size. I was fascinated and freed by Hirschmann and Munter’s book, ‘Overcoming Overeating’. I learned so much, and began my practice using the non-diet approach.
It took many years of personal and professional work to form and re-form my ideas about this approach. I’ve been to the moon and back again on all of this, and I’m here to tell you, it’s not easy. But is it worth it? Yeah, it’s worth feeling the freedom of getting to the other side, and being able to, as poet Mary Oliver says, “let the soft animal of your body love what it loves”.
I’ve come up with 4 Essentials for Embracing Real Food + Real Beauty that are the foundation for my clients. They really work and create lasting change!
1.Individualize: There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to working with eating, weight, and body image issues. Therefore, it’s essential to find what works for the WHOLE YOU: body, mind, spirit, and heart, and create a truly authentic approach to nourishing your body and soul. You’re not going to read this in a magazine or hear it from your best friend. It’s got to come from tuning in to yourself and listening to your body. From that magical place, you can begin to make nourishing choices that work for you.
2. Integrate: Knowing what’s going on inside your heart is also essential. By exploring the emotional components of your relationship with food and body, you can unravel and release what’s holding you back. Take a breath….This is where you will find acceptance and compassion.
3. Create: What does creativity have to do with eating and body image? By thinking creatively, not only will you find what works best for you (out of the box thinking!), but you’ll learn juicy creative practices that will add to your well-being and truly make you happy! This is where you will truly flourish, whether it’s taking yourself on an Artist’s Date, keeping a Living Journal, being in nature, or exploring something new in your town. The possibilities are endless! Isn’t it time to truly nurture yourself with beauty and joy?
4. Sustain: Dieting does not work. Dieting depletes us of energy, time, and emotional well-being. It’s been researched over and over again, yet there are still as many diets and eating approaches out there than ever. Each one makes a different promise about weight loss or health. The foundation for Real Food + Real Beauty stays away from gimmicks, fads, trends, and quick-fixes. The belief is that you know what’s best for you and what makes your body feel nourished and alive. Keeping it REAL, keeps it sustainable, which means that it’s reasonable; do-able; part of your life, not your whole life. The focus is on creating a relationship with food and eating that works for you by enhancing your life, not taking away from it. The result? Freedom, happiness, relief, and a place to land that become a satisfying way of life. Guilt and shame don’t live here anymore!
Do you need some guidance along this path? Check out my Real Food + Real Beauty Coaching Sessions.
Or give me call to schedule your complimentary consultation. I look forward to possibility of working together.