Would you criticize her? Judge her? Shame her?
I’m guessing your answer is a firm “NO” as I know that is my response. So why then am I so willing to criticize, judge, and shame the almost 40 year old version of her?
Time to get real, my friends….
As a health and fitness coach, and someone who believes deeply in the practice of being mindful, intentional, and raising my own level of self awareness, how could I possibly struggle so much with adopting the practices of self love and self care that I teach my clients? It rolls off my tongue so easily, and I believe in it SO deeply when I talk to people about learning to love and respect themselves; but newsflash friends, I’m human too and I also struggle.
So let’s just lay it on the line…
Most of the time I am positive, happy, and grateful and I really strive to live my life in this space, but I get down just like everyone else and I have to work to lift myself up out of the space of fear, darkness, and self loathing.
I was recently listening to a podcast with Kris Carr, who I just love, and she was talking about this exact subject. She is one of the most inspiring speakers and authors of our time, a self proclaimed cancer “thriver”, Kris lives with stage four terminal cancer and thrives. Well in this podcast she was talking about how she sometimes slips into a dark space of judgement, and when she does, she looks at a picture of her five year old self and asks: would you judge her in this way? Wow, this really struck a cord, and the picture posted at the top of this post is exactly the image of myself that came to mind. The first-grade version of Jan that was happy, with just a touch of apprehension. You might not be able to see the vulnerability in my smile, but my goodness, I can feel it like it was yesterday.
So I asked myself, would you EVER say this to the first grade Jan:
WHY are you so frigging emotional? Stop being SO sensitive.
Why don’t you do MORE? You are procrastinating again, you are LAZY.
Why are you eating THAT and why are you eating SO much of it. You are a health coach for crying out loud, you TEACH this stuff, why can’t you get it RIGHT for yourself?
Your thighs. Ugh.
You are a FRAUD.
Would I ever say any of this to that little girl, who was so proud of the dress she was wearing, but yet held back a bit of her smile because she was just a little afraid of being so happy? NEVER.
Never. Never. Never.
I want to love her and tell her that she is PERFECT exactly as she is.
I want to tell her that her sweet, sensitive, and often overly excitable spirit, will make people happy and make them smile.
I want to tell her that she will live a life that is real and messy and beautiful and that she will inspire others to do the same.
I want to tell her that she should NEVER hold back her smile as it is okay to be vulnerable and afraid.
I want to tell her that no matter what happens, she will be okay as there is so much love and light in her heart.
I would tell her that I LOVE HER. I LOVE HER.
Friends, it is so easy for me to look at this picture and tell her that I love her, but to be totally raw and honest, I struggle to look in mirror and say it to the almost 40 year old version of her. So for today, I will love her. And when I find myself falling into that space of self judgement and shame, I will ask myself, would you say this to HER? And with that, the healing begins.
So if any of this resonates, I suggest that you pull out the old photo albums and find THIS picture of YOU. I’m sure that one has already come to mind. Frame it and visit it whenever you find yourself saying anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to HER.