This summer I penned a piece called “You are not currency, you never were.” In it I talk about how we are inherently worthy—even though most of us think we need to earn our worth. We think we are indebted to others, that we owe them all sorts of things—and we sacrifice ourselves to deliver. Here’s an excerpt:
We think we owe our bodies. Maybe we think we owe it to someone to stay the same weight, to work out constantly, to watch what we eat. To keep ourselves small. Maybe we think we owe someone unlimited or any access to our bodies. We think we owe someone our money or our loyalty or our silence. To say yes when we really yearn to say no (whatever the situation).
We think we owe others our lives. To do what they want us to do. To listen to only them and to dismiss, to ignore our own instincts and thoughts and feelings.
Recently, I received a comment on that post that started with: “What a lot of feel-good crap.” Another person chimed in with a differing opinion. And then a third person said: “Well, now I don’t know WHO to believe… one person says this, the other says that. It’s confusing and it doesn’t help very much, is everybody just guessing?”
I don’t know that I’d call it guessing. And I don’t think there’s some ultimate truth or fact that we must absolutely 100 percent believe. Neither of us is the bearer of some gospel.
I do think each of us is trying to make sense of our experiences and the information we’ve come across and collected. We are sharing our interpretations. The way we view the world. What we view as vital.
The reason I’m highlighting these comments is because they speak to making important decisions that affect our relationships with ourselves and how we live our lives. Because we are influenced by what we see, read, consume. We are undoubtedly influenced by what we interpret as fact.
We are inundated with information and advice from everywhere on all channels and mediums (magazines, social media, in person, on TV, etc.). Who do you believe? Do you believe the health publication that hyperventilates over the “obesity epidemic”? The nutritionist who says you should stick to 2,000 calories per day? The doctor who raves about such-and-such diet? The blogger who suggests loving your body at any weight, shape or size? The researcher who studies and promotes self-compassion?
The next time you’re trying to decide whether someone is right or wrong, whether certain information is indeed valid, ask yourself: What works for me?
I used to think that women’s and health publications were the bearers of some gospel. I truly believed that their dieting and weight advice was the absolute truth—that is until I read other perspectives. Words that made me actually feel good about myself. Words that actually suggested I treat myself with kindness and care and move my body in ways that I actually enjoyed. Words that said normal eating is flexible, and I didn’t have to swallow the diet mentality. These words inspired me, and gave me permission to build a healthier, happier relationship with myself. Which has changed everything. For the better.
This is how I figure out who I’d like to follow on social media, the newsletters I sign up for, and the blogs or books I read: Does this person inspire me? Do they help me in supporting myself? Do they help me to challenge unhealthy assumptions? Are they sharing something meaningful or fun or fascinating for my life? Something that benefits me in some way?
So when you’re judging whether you want to internalize someone’s insights, consider the above questions. Consider these questions, too: Does this help me feel the way I want to feel? Does it contribute to a meaningful, fulfilling life for me? Does it support and serve me? Does it help me to take better care of myself mentally, emotionally, physically or spiritually? Does it help me to treat myself the way I’d really like to treat myself?
Because here’s the reality: There’s contradictory advice everywhere. Eat this! Don’t eat this! Restrict! Feast! You need fixing! You don’t need fixing! Try this! Stay away from it!
Ultimately, we need to decide for ourselves what to believe. Maybe my writing here is helpful to you. Maybe it isn’t. Maybe you, too, think it’s a bunch of baloney. And that’s OK. Find what does speak to you and helps you lead the life you’d like to lead.