Inspiring you to find peace with food and your body image
RETHINK YOUR BODY
Inspiring you to find peace with food and your body image
You got it wrong again!
by Harriet Frew on March 10th, 2015

I was 8 years old and hated maths with an absolute vengeance. I used to particularly dread the lessons on long multiplication and long division. I would cry at my desk in despair struggling to find the answer as Miss B would sigh and show her obvious impatience and disapproval that I was 1) crying again 2)not getting anywhere near to achieving an answer to these sums! The seeds of doubt in my mathematics ability were sown early and I learnt to avoid this subject as much as realistically feasible, channelling my energy more into English and the Arts. It irked me that my maths brain was not efficient; that I struggled and it didn’t come to me effortlessly. Surely, I should be able to just get on with it just like everyone else. My exaggerated insecurity around maths didn’t leave me as I became a teenager. I remember working in the local pub and feeling deeply ashamed by my lack of mental arithmetic skills to quickly add up a round in my head. Laying awake at night and practising my maths. I felt flawed, wrong, inferior, inadequate, stupid, and incompetent. What was wrong with me?
 
Why so important?
Writing this now seems a bit crazy, futile and self-indulgent. Why on earth get so tied up in focusing so much energy on my weakness. But for me, one of my rules to keep me safe and to feel accepted was to feel that I was somehow intelligent and competent. And this obviously included ‘knowledgeable at maths’ in my personal rulebook of self-expectations. Clearly, as a teenager and young adult, I felt anything but competent in this area and this deeply affected my own self-worth and esteem. I was constantly waiting to be found out, as the fraud I considered myself to be.
 
Escape from expectations
You will be pleased to know that this story has a happy ending and thankfully, at around the age of 25, I had the realisation that my competency at maths, in the bigger scheme of things, really didn’t matter one jot. Hey, maybe maths was my weakness but so what. There were plenty of other things I was okay at and maybe I had a bit of emotional intelligence in there that was going to bode me well for the future. Suddenly, it was an immense relief, and a burden was lifted from my shoulders. For the first time in a good few years, I could see my strengths, my potential and my positive qualities. And I think it is no coincidence that my bulimia stopped around the same time; although my relationship with food still had some work to do. I was beginning the long and rocky road to self-acceptance.
 
So why harp on about my maths anguish? Well, I have noticed a very common theme emerging with my clients with regularity. This is the tendency to focus on the perceived flaws – this may be in relation to body image or career achievement or eating or relationships or other things. The judgemental axe is out daily hovering over your head and waiting for you to take one mini step out of line. And then when you do, the berating and self criticism; punishment and self-loathing descend in an avalanche, knocking you side-ways with a hearty blow that may take days to recover from. Self-care goes out the window; eating becomes punishing through bingeing, starving or purging. Days are lost to the destructive cycle of the eating problem and self worth plummets because you feel you have failed to meet your expectations.
 
So how to stop this and keep your self-worth intact?
 
1. Firstly, really consider where is this judgemental voice coming from?
Have you internalised a voice from a parent, teacher or authority figure from when you were young and vulnerable? Root this out and recognise your early influences. Then consider, do you want to keep this judgement? Maybe you might want to rethink your expectations and write yourself some new more kind and realistic ones.

2. I am always banging on about self-care, but I wholeheartedly believe in this one hundred per cent! If you are treating yourself in a kind and respectful way, it is pretty hard to self-destruct simultaneously. You can try! Practice self-care even when it is the last thing you feel like doing. This is the time you need to do it more than ever. You will feel better, I promise.

3. Start a journal and write down the things you are good at; your positive qualities and personal attributes you possess. Maybe you are hard working, kind and thoughtful. Maybe you are a loyal friend, considerate and self-motivated. Pay attention to these things and shine the light on them. Then, enhance them and express these parts of yourself even more.

4. If there are people now in your life who are judgemental and are not supporting you, maybe you need to think about how you manage these relationships. Possibly, some good boundaries are needed and in some cases, you might choose not to have regular contact with them, if at all.

5. Aim for self-acceptance to your core (this is a lifetime journey). Everyone has difficult emotions; thoughts they struggle with; personal challenges and parts of us that trigger shame. Embracing your flaws as well as your strengths and starting to allow them a place, is the path to self-acceptance. 

If you relate to this blog and would like to get in touch about working with me do get in touch harriet.frew@gmail.com. I work in Cambridge on Mondays and Fridays; WeightMatters in London on Wednesday and offer Skype and telephone sessions at other times. Also, please do share your own thoughts below if you feel inspired.
 
Best wishes
Harrietx
 
 
 
 
 


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Inspiring you to find peace with food and your body image