It’s summertime and that means hotter weather, fewer layers of clothes, and for many people, an increase in body-related thoughts.
I have a specific memory of a beach vacation I took with my family in my early 20s. I was so uncomfortable with my body and had stressed for more than a month leading up to the trip about being in a bikini. Once there, I remember spending the majority of the beach days laying completely flat on my back to try to keep my stomach as deflated as possible. I literally remember attempting to drink water while lying horizontally… I do NOT recommend this.
I told myself that once my stomach was as flat as the pictures I had plastered all over my vision board, I could finally move freely in a swimsuit (you know, instead of laying on my back, sucking in, hoping I wouldn’t have to walk anywhere that might make my body jiggle). Or, at least sit up when I needed to hydrate!
There were many summers in my early 20s when I did not feel comfortable in my body and I let that dictate what I did and did not do.
I was always waiting on one thing to happen so that I had permission to experience another.
The internalized body shame, weight stigma, fatphobia, and self-judgment kept me in the same place over and over again: waiting.
And no way am I alone in that!
9 out of 10 women opt out of important life activities with friends or family because they don’t like the way they look — stat shared via @TheWellFul.
I didn’t need my stomach to change to run into the ocean. I could do that any and every time I was at the beach – no body changes were required.
This is true for YOU and for all those 9 out of 10 women who are opting out of their lives.
Whether it’s body related or not, many of us are waiting on this thing to change so we can do that thing over there.
When we have the conditional mindset “once X, then Y,” it’s usually for one of two reasons:
First, conditioning. We’ve been conditioned by messages (media images, advertising, things people in our lives have said, stories we’ve been told since we were kids by adults, etc) that this is just how it is!
Second, self-protection. If we have to wait for X to do Y, then we keep ourselves safe from needing to do whatever we would need to do in order to do Y today. We don’t have to be that brave or honest or authentic. We don’t have to believe in ourselves right now. We don’t have to work through our fears. We can wait… until X.
Our conditioning, fears, and self-judgments can keep us trapped in conditional thinking (which leads to conditional living!).
I’d love to encourage you to make a list of all the “once X, then Y” thoughts you’ve been holding onto that are getting in the way of you being fully present in your life this summer.
Maybe they are body related or maybe they’re not! Scribble it all out onto paper. Your list might be short. It might be long.
Write until you feel like you’ve got them all out onto paper.
Then, pick ONE “once X then Y” and practice saying, “Actually I don’t need X to make this happen. I have the freedom to do Y now.”
Maybe you go enjoy a real bagel.
Maybe you buy shorts that fit.
Maybe you apply for that job or try that virtual dance class or book the trip.
Maybe you wear a tank top.
Maybe you leave the house without makeup on.
Maybe you practice honesty with someone you love.
Maybe you ask for help.
Maybe you create the boundary.
Maybe you take a dang nap!
If it feels scary, you can honor that fear. You don’t have to ignore it. In fact, here’s a great practice to help you process the fear right now.
Once you work through the fears, remind yourself that you’re worthy of living your life today.
I’d love to hear what you’re saying “yes” to!