Ask Jeff Anything Series:
T – I haven’t been able to get over my body issues since I was 11 years old. Should I focus on attaining my ideal self image or on loving myself anyway?
AJA – The problem with those two choices is that you are guaranteeing failure and fatigue.
Ideal self-image isn’t attainable because it is based on perfection. The closer you get to perfect, the farther away it becomes. Consider mastering any craft or discipline, the more skill and experience you have, the more you understand your shortcomings. The closer you get, the farther away perfection appears. With every step forward, perfection appears less attainable.
Perfection = Guaranteed Failure
The “anyway” in “loving yourself anyway” implies that you have already made a judgement that you are not good enough. That judgement insures that you are going to continue to expend energy to create an illusion of acceptance. You are burning energy thinking and feeling bad about yourself and then you are going to expend more energy trying to feel good about yourself. It becomes an isometric energy drain.
For + Against = Fatigue
At 11, you probably had an abundance of vitality and energized your environment to the point that someone got uncomfortable and said or did something to deflate you. Every time you expanded, they deflated.
You started to accept their worldview and allowed yourself to deflate. It stuck. You started doing it to yourself as self-regulation … because it worked.
The spate of deflate opened the gate to hate.
Here is my take … You use body image as a vitality regulator because it has worked so well for the last 20 years.
Repetition became a pattern and the pattern became a habit.
So, in my way of thinking, it isn’t about your self image, it is about tolerating atypical amounts of vitality. You are a robust and efficient energy generating machine. It is your nature. You rock!
The “poor self image” deflation device is a habit. Habits can be changed.
The first step is to allow the possibility that you are not your low self-image, that you are someone who uses the story of low self-image to maintain your comfort zone.
The next step is to begin to feel when you shift from comfortable to uncomfortable and from uncomfortable to story creation (I suck) and then feeling the comfort or maybe familiarity of deflated.
As you feel yourself expand toward vital discomfort (having more energy than is typical), you can make a choice to expend that excess energy doing something you love, are passionate about or that moves you a step closer to your intention.
UPDATE – I offer a 12 week course to my clients that gives them the tools to discover, deconstruct and change their existing patterns.
One of the primary things I do for my clients is to help them change the patterns that result in chronic tension. If you (or any other reader of this) is interested, schedule a free 20 minute consultation with me. We will discuss your situation and make a plan for growth.
I help Type-A people use introspection and movement to fuel their growth, happiness, health and fulfillment in their business, career and relationships. I offer tools to lower stress and overwhelm while increasing energy and productivity.
No stories, no drama, no therapy; just actionable tools that work, guaranteed.