Written by Nilanjana Haldar
I have been raised in a society where I was always required to be slim and trim to obtain society’s unconditional love, to get the kindness of my friends. The thought, ‘You are a desired employee only if you have a body that attracts people’ was the dictum of my community. So naturally, I grew up with a heightened tension revolving around my body. Anytime I gathered an excess volume in my tummy, I loathed myself. I also hated my arms if it picked some extra flab.
All my childhood and early adult years, I have been told I must look absolutely skinny and slender to ever secure a life partner who would want to marry me and for his in-laws to ‘accept’ me. Now, because of our Bengali diet of having large helpings of rice thrice a day and not enough physical exercise, as study pressure later increased, I bundled myself with weight, and I learned not only to hate my body but to dislike it all the time. I was told that I acquired it from my aunts—that my genes were to blame.
Ever since I gained weight, which was in my higher classes, eighth grade and above, I began loathing my body, and nobody, not even people at home, ever told me, “I am beautiful just the way I am.” Instead, they did things for me but always told me to exercise more than that which my body permitted, make relentless attempts to shed my weight. I have always been criticized for my overweight self in the latter part of my school years, and while friends made fun of me, my close family members criticized me non-stop, continually making me self-conscious of my belly (called as a muffin-top), my overweight arms, my hips, and everything. They even reinforced the impossibility of making any real change in my body by stating that it was inherited and was, thus, unfortunately pretty intractable.
So my exercise efforts not only came from a place of low self-esteem but a lot of hopelessness. In addition to the pressure to ‘look-slim,’ my family was a tumultuous one with intense domestic violence frequently waged against my mother (with violent attitudes, physical and verbal and a hell lot of wailing, mourning, and depression). Plus, my brother was never allowed to pursue the job he desired. And he was undervalued and always compared against me. I was considered the ‘pride’ in the family while he was treated unceremoniously. This added to my guilt. All the cumulative blame only added to my pre-existing shrunken self-esteem.
This guilt and undervalued mindset quickly transformed into an identity of “DEFICIENCY,” which breathed itself in every aspect of my life. I tried overcoming this “DEFICIENCY” by eating lesser and lesser until I realized I was anorexic.
But if you are continually exercising, following a diet, or starving yourself with a mindset that has made ‘slim looks’ a stark requirement for you to feel happy about yourself, believe me, your life is an unfulfilled one, one where you never feel good about yourself.
I hadn’t opened my eyes to what I really wanted out of life?
At the time, all I wanted was for people to like me, and the only way that seemed possible was by ‘looking slim.’
Good looks? Really? I disagree. You are searching for peace.
Here’s how the flowchart goes—>
I was unaware that this expectation was unattainable. This was because when I did actually reach my ‘mental-image’ of what a fit body looks like, it brought in a fresh gush of anxiety with it.
Once I have reached that goal-point of ‘good-looks,’ I was loaded with anxiety about avoiding foods that contained carbs, or oil, or any form of grease simply to maintain that ‘good look.’ So your entire day will be consumed with irrational thoughts about what food to eat and what not to eat.
With a mindset of ‘feeling-good-only-when-I-look-good,’ you will never reach that illusory pitstop of feeling good about yourself even if you DO reduce your size.
Because once you have reached that goal-point of ‘good-looks,’ you will be loaded with anxiety about avoiding foods that contain carbs, or oil, or any form of grease simply to maintain that ‘good look.’ So your entire day will be consumed with new irrational thoughts about what food to eat and what not to eat.
But results do take time, and my mind was possessed by the idea that the stuff was in my genes and that it would take me a great deal of hard work to attain that ‘socially-acceptable’ physique.
Here runs the next cycle
So I exercised even more and cut down more carbohydrates from my diet. In fact, I had unobtrusively begun omitting almost every essential nutrient from my regular diet.
My sole mantra had become——> become slim and only slim. Nothing else matters.
That became the only guideline for happiness. I never ever for once felt good about who I was and my inner self. I was always on the lookout for sculpting my body into something I wasn’t.
I acquired diseases. I became weak. I felt nervous all the time. I had mood swings, anxiety, and sadness. I could never stand up for myself. My assertive voice had been dimmed into oblivion. But the mantra of “looking-good-to-feel-happy’ had strengthened enormously, and I simply couldn’t let my mind become aware of how irrational it was.
Ultimately, around two months later, the results began showing, and people started noticing, and their statements were, “I look slim and nice.”
I was amazed and secretly delighted!
Soon, the praises began escalating, and my family began praising me too.
And we all love praises, don’t we? So essentially, my mind began believing that to be loved by people, I needed to work hard, starve, over-exercise, and be slim all the time.
So I exercised and slipped more and more into a diet—- thus creating a self-fulfilling neurosis that persisted even after I attracted the “ideal figure.”
I did love the praises that came with it but believe me, they were always transient.
SO ESSENTIALLY I WAS RELYING ON PEOPLE FOR MY HAPPINESS. If you rely on praises and valediction from people for your happiness, you will always be their prisoner!
This mentality took an enormous toll on me after I shifted to my post-graduate college in PGIMER, Chandigarh. I was always seeking love from people, and when I wasn’t getting it, I pushed myself to eat lesser and exercising even more. To add to the storms, people’s judgments at work began plodding me down.
( On a side note, I must tell you that in PGIMER, Chandigarh the intense hierarchical training is stringent and the environment is rich with narcissists, which is a professional trend followed by the senior doctors in this institute)
Naturally, a mindset like mine would be exploited there daily. I would identify myself with the cynical judgments of people and be wounded overtly by their constant stings of criticism. And my self-esteem drowned and drowned away until there was almost nothing left of it. Any residual sense of self-worth had completely zeroed itself out.
After my exams got over, I took a year off to relax a while, calm down, and feel free. My parents were hell-bent on pushing me into a job and getting me married. I do understand that they had pure intent. However, I didn’t want it that way, and their pressure was so tricky to handle, I was inclined to give in. But a voice inside me had awakened by then, which, at the time, wasn’t entirely audible to me, and yet was strong enough to navigate me towards a prolonged break.
I utilized this time to work on my mind. I began researching topics like “Why my life wasn’t working even when I had the degrees from the best institute in the country and a ‘beautiful’ physique to complement it with/ Why despite fitting into all the societal standards of a ‘happy life’, my life was a complete and utter mess inside me.”
After about 6 months of deep introspection and writing a novel to release all the traumas I experienced as a child, I took the Mind valley RTT hypnotherapy by Marissa Peers, and I learned the art of self-praise OVER and OVER again. The more you praise yourself over and over again, the more amazing you feel.
I highly recommend Marissa’s therapy to any of you out there. I genuinely recommend her course to anyone to fall madly in love with yourself to the point where you love yourself for everything that you are, right here and right now, and you require absolutely nothing to be happy. Priya Florence shares Mindvalley courses herself to her subscribers. We both know how effective it is.
Through this therapy, I learned the exact art of knowing and understanding that I am ENOUGH right here right now, just the way I am. I am enough not because of my looks, my degrees, my achievements, my successes, or my mistakes. None of that! I am simply ‘enough’ just the way I am right here, right now.”
Just say it to yourself and feel the magic for a moment. Say it and KNOW that it is true!
You will almost instantly start to feel a different energy inside your body.
If you have done something wrong, know that if you have decided never to do it again, YOU ARE FORGIVEN. That person needn’t forgive you. After releasing that guilt, say, “I AM ENOUGH JUST THE WAY I AM, RIGHT HERE AND RIGHT NOW.”
Say, “I AM FORGIVEN” out loud and KNOW that it is true!
Joel Pastor says that whatever follows the words “I Am” will come searching for you overtime. The statement “I am beautiful just the way I am” fills you with a powerful vibrational energy inside of you. Say it and know that IT IS TRUE! There is enough evidence in the science of quantum physics that confirms that the energy that you feel inside of you is what draws people and situations that match that overtime. So if you are always attracting people who, from time to time, make you feel less than yourself, you need to understand it is because of a glitch in your self-esteem inside yourself. Of course, you can’t change a toxic workspace, but, even in that workspace, these techniques are invaluable, provided you use them there as well—the criticisms flung at you will no longer affect you!
It is required that you praise yourself and forgive yourself all the time whenever you are free. Say it and say it and say it, beginning with the words “I AM.” I remember chanting them like a mantra. I had leaflets of it pasted everywhere in my room and dressing table and bathroom, as taught to me by the world-class hypnotherapist, Marissa Peers. At one point, my mind genuinely believed that I needed nothing to feel good about myself.
Even more beautiful is the truth that this need for valediction is absolutely nullified once you praise yourself, validate yourself, and feel beautiful inside.
Whenever you say it, KNOW that it is the truth. You were born with joy and peace and love in your heart. Society told you to be slim, so you are working hard to please society. But remember, society is only a bunch of concepts, ideas, thoughts, prejudices, beliefs, and opinions of different people. It isn’t reality. What is real is what you were as a child—-at that time, you were uncorrupted by any of the messages from society, and you viewed life as a gift.
So, why lose that?!
Why I believe you must rid yourself of guilt by saying the above words is because guilt is that which makes that self-fulfilling neurosis rerun its full cycle and triggers you to starve and over-exercise again and the vicious cycle ensues all over and amplifies the neediness for other another person’s opinion. The way to releasing that ‘GUILT’ is by yielding yourself to the truth that it is only and only a small figment of a sensation inside your mind. That it isn’t reality itself.
What has helped me was I visualized this guilt as an observer like it was a small little paper-message inside my head, and then I inhaled deeply, and with every exhalation, I envisioned that paper leaving my body and leave.
The more you realize that you are enough ( by saying these above lines over and over again) just the way you are, you release each and every negative emotion stuck in your mind.
When you are at a heightened sense of arduous love and praise, delight and joy inside of you will no longer ‘force’ yourself to the stress of fitting to standard preconceived body sizes.
Now the most beautiful examples for loving your body no matter what the size comes from plus-sized models. For those of you who don’t know what it means, a plus-sized model is an individual of average to larger stature who is engaged primarily in modeling plus-size clothing.
This is a message given by Emme, who is a plus-sized model.
“True beauty comes from the soul to change yourself, and to conform to anyone else’s standards of beauty, is to change your essence, own who you are, and you become a truly powerful woman.”
Here’s the link for it—>
Now, I agree that there are genuine health-benefits of exercising to stay fit. It helps release dopamine to your body, which helps raise your energy and self-confidence. Plus, a fit body helps reduce the risk of many diseases.
What is unacceptable is to trying to use the concept of “being fit” as a determinant of your sense of self-acceptance or your sense of ‘being at peace with yourself.’
So next time you work to reduce your weight,
Tell yourself, ‘I love every size of mine. I am a little large-sized, and I love that. Let’s change it now and choose a different one, a slimmer one”, always KNOWING THAT YOU LOVE YOURSELF AND APPRECIATE YOURSELF NO MATTER WHAT SIZE.”
I WAS OVERWEIGHT AND ANOREXIC, BUT FINALLY, I LEARNT THE ART OF FALLING IN LOVE WITH MY BODY NO MATTER WHAT THE SIZE
YOU CAN TOO, TRUST ME!
“We awaken when we become aware of who we truly are, This awareness brings a realization of how liberating it is to be authentic—to be real, instead of who we think we are supposed to be or who others want us to be.”—- By Dr. Shefali Tsabary, PhD., New York Times Bestselling author of “The Conscious Parent” and “The Awakened Family.“