I can still remember the very first episode of The Biggest Loser I watched. I was married at the time and very uncomfortable in my skin, unhappy with my body. A woman was sharing how she felt guilty because she couldn’t save her mother. Her mother was an addict who locked her then 3 year old daughter in a closet so she could do what she needed to in order to feed this habit. This little girl grew into an overweight woman, guilt ridden, self-loathing and sad. Although I couldn’t relate to what she went through, I could relate to the feelings of guilt, to judging yourself harshly, to feeling as if you let someone important down. I could relate to punishing yourself and using food to fill a void. Her story hit me hard. I remember crying listening to her and reminding myself of my own feelings of self-doubt, low self-esteem This was also when I recognized the beginning of my slide back into a depression that I had battled on and off for over 20 years. I chose for a long time to pretend that this battle wasn’t real.
This past week was the finale of season 16 of the Biggest Loser. I did not watch it at all this season however I ended up watching the finale. I wanted to hear the stories. One person talked about how this experience healed him. He learned to forgive himself. Each person spoke about the changes in their lives since focusing on taking care of themselves. Many spoke about learning to let go and trust themselves. Letting go of past hurts; past emotions; past issues; past decisions. It was all about changing inside to change outside.
That really struck me. Sometimes I forget that other people may feel the same I do. It’s hard to let go. It’s hard to let go of anger; of guilt; of sadness; of patterns of behavior; of negative thoughts; of doubts; of fears.
Holding on gives us a false sense of safety because we know what to expect. Fear is what tends to hold us back of letting go. Fear of the future. Fear of the unknown. How do we let go of things that no longer serve us? How do we keep negative events in our lives from defining us? And what will others do as we change our behavior.
Patterns of behavior and patterns of thinking have been the hardest things to change so that the depression is healed. It all started with self-judgment. I never thought of myself as judgmental but I have been. I have been judgmental of me. I’m too fat. I’m not as smart as other people. I am not good at relationships. I have judged me throughout my life. From the outside I can appear confident, full of love and give to others. And I am. Today. But for a long time I faked a lot of that confidence because of the lack of love I had for myself. I faked a lot because of how harshly I judged me. And with judging me, I judged others.
It all starts with letting go of those judgments that you begin to believe in yourself. Letting go is all about trading something that isn’t working for you for the freedom and possibility of receiving something in your future that will work for you. Most of the time the things we hang onto, the emotions, the patterns of behavior, and the self-effacing judgments are not allowing us to be happy. Facing those things is difficult. Realizing that people who surround you may perpetuate some of those old behaviors is the most difficult realization there is. I have found myself questioning relationships that I have around me. Are they really healthy for me? Or are they really more supportive of the way I was?
Those triggers and those old patterns of behavior are the toxic relationships now. I had one of those moments over the last few weeks where I saw my emotions getting the best of me. I saw some behaviors begin to emerge that I knew were old and not who I really was. These behaviors are defense mechanisms. My self-effacing jokes so that I say something sarcastic and mean about me before someone else does are at the root of behavior. That is when I know I am judging myself.
I joined a new fitness center over the last 2 weeks. In order to begin working with a trainer there you have to be seen by the nurse and go through a BMI analysis, body measurements, blood pressure screen, etc. Great stuff and gives you a baseline before you begin to work out. I found myself making self-effacing jokes the entire time I was with the nurse. Did I make her laugh? You bet! I’m funny! Especially when I am poking fun at yours truly! I walked out of there, went home and began to replay the evening in my head. I realized at that moment that I had reverted to a pattern of behavior that wasn’t healthy. It didn’t inspire me to be happy; it inspired me to feel terrible about myself. When I feel terrible about me I eat! And I don’t make healthy choices at that point I make terrible choices, anything and everything processed, sweet, salty and crunchy. As I was standing in front of my pantry door with it open and grabbing at anything that looked edible without cooking it I realized I was binging! I stopped at that moment and asked myself why? The answer came so quickly. You don’t feel good about you.
I shut the pantry door and began to cry. The tears though weren’t just pity tears or sad tears. There was some joy in those tears as I realized that I stopped in the middle of all of this and recognized my old pattern of behavior! I recognized why I was binge eating and why I was upset. I realized at that moment that I needed to be proud of myself, not judge myself. I saw the old pattern and I made a conscious effort to change my reaction.
It isn’t easy to change patterns of behavior or let go of old feelings. It is a battle that many of us face daily. I am learning to change these feelings, let go of old emotions and patterns. I am not perfect at it but I am perfect as I am.
Do not fear yourself any longer but embody yourself now ~Joey Klein