Thursday, March 1, 2012

Stop and Admire the View

There’s a term in the field of psychology called disavowal, which means that you know something – but at the same time, you don’t let yourself know that you know it. In other words, you disavow the thing that’s too hard to consciously acknowledge.

I see this frequently when it comes to body acceptance. It is almost a distinct stage. Once you come to terms with the idea that body acceptance is a good thing, you become stuck on the idea that it is only a good thing for other people. You strongly believe that your friends, family and everyone else you care about should love and accept their bodies as strong, beautiful and just right how they are. But when it comes to your own body, somehow, it's different. There has to be some fundamental flaw that makes your body not okay, even if it's the only body in the world that isn't.

Let me just tell you, and ask you to repeat to yourself over and over again: There is nothing different about your body. You are not an exception. You deserve to love yourself every single bit as much as your friends and family deserve to love themselves, right now, just as you are.

Disavowal is a tough thing to work through because it involves shifting your own paradigm. Your brain and body like things how they are. It's called homeostasis. It's why you return to the same weight range if you try to stray too far out of it. It's why we cling to old ideas far more tenaciously than we embrace new ones. Change translates to stress in our physical bodies, because they must physically adapt to new ideas and circumstances.

It's also hard to outsmart yourself. Sometimes it's beneficial to "fake it 'till you make it," and see if it becomes a part of you after a while. Sometimes you just have to take the tiny voices firmly in hand and make that leap, which is only possible if circumstances are just right.

But, importantly, you are not alone if you are in this phase of FA. I have met very few people who were not where you are at some point in their journey. It is okay to be where you are. It is okay to stop and take a breather and re-assess where you are.

I can get into a pattern where I am driving myself so hard that I never stop to count accomplishments. I fall into scarcity thinking where I feel that if I lose momentum I will never get going again. But while I can't quite shake this belief in the moment (disavowal again) I inevitably find it to be false when I trust myself enough to stop. That's when I find that the mountain doesn't look so high from halfway up, and the view is already pretty good.

So let yourself be where you are on your journey to self-acceptance. Count your accomplishments so far, and enjoy the view. Later, you can take a deep breath and decide the next step from a less pressured position. In the meantime, you may find that you like yourself a little bit more for the steps you've already taken.

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