Reply To: Ask the experts
I just finished the Week 1 workbook and the Live hangout video and I have some thoughts I’d like to share. Disclaimer: it ain’t pretty.
1. I think that in a large part my self-worth is tied to my appearance and I have a lot of emotions around that. Anger because I feel like this was developed and encouraged by the older generation of women in my family and I had no say in it; confusion because my parents never encouraged this messaging – to the contrary, they developed my self-worth in terms of intellect and independence; sadness because I feel/hear in my head constantly this ticker tape of negativity about myself and others. I judge myself and other people about appearance in a nasty way in my head, on both ends of the spectrum: jealousy when another person looks really healthy, fit, dressed well, nice jewelry etc I say to myself that they must be a shallow, image-conscious person who spends way too much time on the superficial aspect of their appearance. I also see it as a waste of time/money to spend on myself since it feels like I’m just making a show and I really don’t deserve the nice things or to look a certain way. Also, whenever I see someone who I judge to be “less than” in the appearance category I say to myself, “how can they be so bold as to walk around in public like that wearing that hairstyle or those clothes or being so skinny/fat/tan/dressed in designer/trying to look older/younger, etc. I would never do that since it makes that person look ugly/bad/funny/strange”. To myself I say, “you can’t wear that/have your hair this way/etc. since you aren’t good/pretty/skinny/tall/ethnic/young/wealthy/valuable enough to do so. This goes to the conversation about self-confidence vs self-worth since I always manage to maintain the bare minimum of pass-ability (according to my own standards) in terms of hair/makeup/dress/health but I usually have an uncomfortable feeling about it. I feel that people are going to judge me by either saying “she doesn’t make the most of what she has” or “she shouldn’t be presenting herself like that, she has no right and she looks foolish”. I wish I did not have these negative feelings about appearance. I have three young children and my oldest daughter has started to say that she is fat, and she wants to look a certain way, and she doesn’t think she is beautiful. Ummm…..all 8 year olds are beautiful! I fear that I have stuffed these feelings on this topic so far down into my psyche that I never, ever comment on their appearance, even though in my head I do feel like she is fat and fear that she will be judged by society and want to protect her, and I also feel that she is absolutely beautiful as a person. I do my best to turn around the conversation so that she develops her self-worth based on other qualities that she can control, so why can’t I also teach myself that lesson? I am not practicing what I preach to my children and I feel like a fraud (and still pretty $hitty about myself and my appearance).
2. I am really freaking hard on myself! I agree wholeheartedly with the idea that to go from all the way left to all the way right on a spectrum (politics aside!) is way too much to handle, yet that is my default. Black/white, all/nothing, right/wrong. I am trying to figure out how to have a less binary view of the world and then apply that world view to myself as I navigate my life. It is difficult when these standards are self-imposed and have led to success. It is almost as if I have to turn the “assumptions” part of GAILs on its side and say “even if these things in the past got you to where you are, and served you well, that doesn’t mean they will continue to do so, they might not be the truth going forward.” In a way it is letting go of the blueprint for past successes in order to achieve future results that are not prescribed using that template. Does that make sense?