Bigger than self-care
This eNewsletter usually has a focus on self-care and self-acceptance.
In the light of the tragedy on 9/11, the focus has broadened.
As we cope with the losses and stresses, I see people taking care of
each other and helping in whatever ways possible. I also see prayer
services springing up that include Christian, Jewish, and Muslim peoples
together embracing the unity of the human experience and cultivating
acceptance of each other. It is through care
and acceptance of each other that we can help break the
cycle of terror and hate.
My prayers for all the victims of the terrorism.
My hopes for all the people left behind.
May we find a way to live in peace with each other,
... and with ourselves and our bodies.
Coping and Continuing
You may have noticed the absence of eNewsletters from me since the
tragedies on September 11. As I worked with my psychotherapy clients
and coped with my own reactions, I had some difficulty knowing what
I wanted to say. My apologies for the delay in sending this eNewsletter.
During September, I heard many of the people in my exercise and healthy
eating classes expressing a kind of 'survivors guilt'. It seemed as
if it felt selfish to focus on these little things in the midst of the
bigger issues in the world. Then as the weeks passed, I began to see
another attitude emerging. Clients and class members were telling stories
of how continuing with their self-care was helping them cope with the
stress of recent events. Indeed, by taking better care of themselves,
they were feeling like they had more to GIVE to those around them who
were in need.
In this spirit of "Coping and Continuing", I write this newsletter
on self-care and self-acceptance When we maintain the foundation of
a strong self, then we can function better in this world.
I have the pleasure of seeing two communities come together. There
are those of us online who get this newsletter, belong to various lists,
frequent websites, and use the plus-size resources accessible through
the Internet. This "Health for ALL Sizes" online community
is a valuable resource. Here in the Philadelphia area, I also see the
participants in my local plus-size fitness and healthy eating classes.
It is wonderful to see the concepts of self-care and self-acceptance
living and breathing in my own local community. In our local "Healthy
Eating with Bliss" classes, ideas and topics are developed that
I will then include in our eNewsletter. Through this eNewsletter, the
online and the local community will be coming together.
Since Halloween is approaching,
I thought I would comment on Ghosts...
A Ghost In Your Closet
There may be someone else in your house who has the power to damage
your self-esteem. They often lurk in your closet or in a basement storage
area. This ghost may be about the same size you used to be. This ghost
may be the size you wish you were. You can be plunged into bad feelings
just by thinking about this ghost that haunts your closets. Are you
saving clothes that you used to wear (or clothes you bought and never
could wear), just in case this ghost shows up again? Who is it? It is
you. It is the person you used to be when you were thinner and younger,
or the person you wish you were when you bought that outfit one size
too small. It is the 'ghost of sizes past.'
Every time you wish for the
'ghost of sizes past' to return,
you are criticizing and rejecting
the person who you are right now.
Waiting for this ghost hurts you.
That self-criticism can eat
away at your self-esteem.
In the long run, that self-criticism can also drain away your motivation
to take better care of yourself. How many years can you stare at a closet
full of clothes that do not fit before you become hopeless that they
will ever fit? When you are hopeless, what is the use? "I'll never get
back into those clothes, I might as well give up." What is it that you
give up on? Usually, you give up on eating healthy and exercising.
The ghost in your closet can
to give up on your healthy lifestyle!
Go to your closet and open it. Do you see things in there that you
cannot wear because they no longer fit you? How does that make you feel?
Remember that feeling bad about yourself sucks away your motivation
to take care of yourself. Are you saving these clothes in case you get
back to that size again? Even if your body size changed and you end
up the same size as these clothes from the past, the styles would have
also changed. You would have changed. You are not and will never be
the person you were in the past. This is a good thing. Think of all
that you have learned, all that you have been through. You should look
different than you used to look. Time moves forward. Get rid of the
ghosts hiding in your closets that make you feel bad about yourself.
You could donate those clothes to charity, give them to a favorite niece,
or sell them at a resale shop. These clothes can make someone else feel
good. Get rid of clothes that don't fit. It will make you feel better
about yourself when you open up your own closet.
On the other hand, when you look in your closet, do you see clothes
that do fit you? Do you find the clothes you need to get through your
days comfortably? If not, what are you waiting for?
I would like you to imagine that you were in charge of caring for a
child. Now, think of this little one who is in your care and notice
how you would treat this child? Would you force that little one to wear
clothes that do not fit? Would you deny him/her comfortable clothes
that look nice?
If you were dressing a little one in your
care, you would make sure that little one was dressed appropriately
? even if the little one were going to change body size soon! You would
not force a 3 year-old to go without clothes just because he/she will
need a different size next year. Even if you expect your body size to
change, you deserve to have clothes that fit NOW.
If you give yourself any less, you are subjecting yourself to the same
kind of judgment and neglect that would hurt anyone. Perhaps, when you
were a child, you were hurt in this same way. Don't continue the damaging
Go ahead; get rid of the ghosts
in your closet and fill your closet with acceptance.
This does not have to cost a lot of money. If you cannot buy clothes
right now, just move the things that don't fit into boxes somewhere
out of sight and put the things that do fit closer to the front of the
closet and drawers. If you have a little money, there are stores with
budget prices, resale shops, and clothing swaps. Of course, if your
finances allow, it is wonderful to treat yourself to something extra
nice. You will find a resource for plus size clothes for men, women,
and children at http://www.PlusSizeYellowPages.com
Having clothes that fit is an experience of self-acceptance. Your
experiences affect how you feel. People often ask me "HOW do I learn
to accept my body?" There are many answers. There are many paths to
self-acceptance. It always helps to take an ACTION toward your goals.
Set up your closets and drawers so they are filled with clothes that
fit your body NOW. This is one action you can take toward self-acceptance
and feeling better about your body. Feeling better about yourself helps
keep you motivated to take care of yourself.