Why does one struggle to lose the weight they want to lose even though they have all the information. The internet is flooded with information. We all know kale is good and there is more than enough recipes on how to use it. Why aren’t we eating it?
We know we need to workout and drink water. Why aren’t people doing it?
Could it be that we are sabotaging our success because of stories other people have projected on us that make us feel shameful about ourselves and our bodies? I want to address this very real issue and explore how you can use hurtful messaging you may have received about your body and turn it around as a powerful resource for you.
Your life experience is special to you. All our challenges are our teachers. When I hit up on a challenge, I ask myself “What can I learn from this situation? How can I leverage it to thrive?”
Shonda Rhimes encourages readers in her book, Year of Yes, to normalize their life. I love that. This basically means you are not wrong, awkward, weird, ugly, bad, stupid…. whatever you tell yourself or people have told you. You are you – made in God’s infinite wisdom, having an experience that only you can have in the way you are having it for a purpose that is much greater than you.
This is how I feel when it comes to my past and my story. Everything that has happened in my history has been a servant to me to teach me lessons and to provide examples for me to help others from my experience.
This actually reminds me of a boy I had a crush on in 7th grade. I had the biggest crush on him until I found out he told my best friend that he didn’t like me because I was too dark-skinned. Once I found out that he said that, first, I thought it was funny because I’m like “dude, do you not look in the mirror. It’s like the pot calling the kettle black.” After that initial response, I just felt sorry for him. All the attraction I had for him evaporated because in my eyes he was just as dark-skinned as me and him not liking me because of my skin meant he hated his skin too so he hated himself. That self-hate took away all his attractiveness. In the end, though, that was a lesson for me that I love myself more than anyone else and despite my looks, I’m worthy of love and no one can tell me different. This is how I defiantly stand in pride with my body and my self-image. I make no apologies regarding the way I look. I don’t even need to forgive myself that I don’t fit society’s standards of beauty (whatever that is). It hasn’t stopped me from thriving and making a difference in this world.
The other scenario could have been that my best friend made up the story and the boy didn’t say what she told me he said. Maybe she wanted me to feel bad. But, she didn’t make me feel bad. Instead, she stopped me from wanting something I did not have, which was this relationship that was not going to happen for whatever reason. I no longer was in longing because of what went down so even if she meant to hurt me, she actually helped me.
When body shaming words are coming from a family member you trust, though, that could feel like a dagger to the heart and burn self-esteem to the ground. I have an uncle who is dark-complexioned and was treated badly because of it in Jamaica. He had family members of lighter complexion put him down and that made him resentful and bitter into his old age. I remember he used to drive me to school daily and talk about racial issues and how other races perceived Black people. He spoke about a lot of judgement that Black people face from people of other races. Even now at the age of 30, I see the programming of his stories in me. I have absorbed and taken on all his ghosts because he never came to terms with the people who hurt him. Instead, he absorbed their hurt, made it his truth, retold the stories constantly, and passed the stories along to me through daily mental programming. You can see how generations of hurt can lead people to have an inferiority complex.
I noticed though that the baton had been passed to me. I cannot help my uncle with his hurt. He is not open at this time. It would take years of counseling. However, I can heal myself so I don’t pass it along to my nieces and nephew or others I interact with. My uncle was not in the wrong for programming me at such a young age with racist messaging. He himself was a victim and he passed the baton to me to close the loop on the self-hate and burdening oneself with the pain of someone else’s story. I learned a lot from the experience. I learned that hurt people hurt people. My uncle was a victim of victims. It goes on and on until someone puts a period on it. You put the period on it in your own family when you do your own internal work and look at your life experience as a series of lessons. You don’t take on other people’s stories as your truths.
I’ve been reading lately Keke Palmer’s book Quiet The Noise and Find Your Voice and she quoted R. Kelly saying to her “your suffering is where you find your purpose”. I love this because this has been true for me in the experience I had with my grandmother’s death. But, you know what? It’s also true for me in my business with my branding. I have been forced to put my face out there because I am my brand. This has created a lot of turmoil in me in the past where I was not comfortable being on video or being photographed because I did not see myself as beautiful I honestly told myself that if my face was out there I would have no clients, lol. I can laugh at it now because it is such a ridiculous thing to say to myself and even somewhat disrespectful to my parents and other Black women who look like me. Through my own emotional work, talk therapy and coaching, I was able to be unapologetically myself in my business and put my face out there and, in turn, it has connected me with people who see themselves in me. I help them feel beautiful by just normalizing my own look.
This is just one example of how healing yourself can help heal others. Also, serving others can be a healing force for you as well. If you have been body shamed, how can you help someone like you not feel the shame the way you have? How can your past help you help someone else?
Don’t continue to repeat the hurtful stories that are keeping you from making progress. Use them as lessons to build a better future for yourself and all of humanity.
The documentary “The Hunting Ground” is a great example of this. It showcases young women who were raped in college. They reported it to the universities and the universities’ response was to either make it seem as if it were the women’s fault or just try to make sure they didn’t tell anyone about it because of fear of losing funding and fear of the reputation it would cause that would decrease the number of incoming students. What I loved about this film was that these women stood in their power and used their horrible experience to help other young women who had also been raped in college. They took their fight across the nation to all the schools where students were telling them of their experience and helping these young women file Title IX complaints against the schools for not taking any action against the rapists (who were all college students also). They took the fight beyond that all the way to Congress and the White House. The experience of rape these young women endured was horrible but no one can deny how great an impact they have made in the national conversation on rape cases and how it’s handled, especially with young people on college campuses. This country (USA) is a better place because of their activism, which most likely would not have happened had they not had the experience they had. Not only that, but a rape victim is better equipped to emotionally help another rape victim heal because of their shared past experience. This is how you flip a negative experience into a life purpose or mission and living a life of purpose breeds contentment.
Tell me your thoughts on this. What if nothing in your life was a mistake? How would that change your thinking and your approach to your life? What lessons have you learned from those experiences?