I think the words landed on my body before my ears this past Saturday night…
In true Mary-Claire-Byrne fashion, I dramatically spun around with a GASP and looked at him dead in the eyes: “What did you just say?!” This acquaintance (who I genuinely like), was a deer in headlights knowing I'd heard him, and he awkwardly laughed it off.
Then my brain presented its two options in the peak of a trigger:
FIGHT OR FLIGHT.
Trust me-- my instincts wanted to fight, but thank God something in me knew it wasn't the time or place to womansplain to a grown man how fucked up it is to speak like that about any BODY—man or woman’s.
But NOTICE that this is my THOUGHT about his words…I think what he said was “fucked up.”
I’ll go out on a limb and imagine that many of you reading this would also agree…
But how does that thought make me FEEL?
ANGRY. HURT. INSECURE. PARANOID. PANICKY.
Which is why I chose to fly out the door. It was an amalgamation of uncomfortable feelings that were all too familiar, going as far back as eighth grade when I weighed 20 pounds more than what I currently weigh.
I still remember the hurtful comments from boys in my class about that specific part of my body.
So I proceeded to jump on the fat-free food frenzy of the 90's and devoured mostly chemicals as a way to be thin, (fainting spell included) and then managed to choose the one career path after college that would encourage me to amplify this unhealthy behavior a magillion-fold--
I fed into (pun intended!) every person in a position of power's desire to want me to be thin...
Because I too felt that the smaller I was, the more worthy I was for the job.
I had an acting teacher comment on my big butt. A stylist express frustration about the pencil skirt not working with my shape. Another stylist suggest I invest in a GOOD pair of spanx to make that "area look smaller." A modeling agent advise me to direct the photographer to "angle my body in such a way that my legs look thinner and longer." And a photographer point out my "junk in the trunk" on a shoot.
The list goes on so needless to say, my reaction on Saturday night was a visceral one.
My heart felt like it was going to burst out of my chest. Rage filled my body. And when I got in the car, the tears spilled.
Not fun feelings, but such is life when we're INEVITABLY going to be triggered. I ALLOWED them to run through me in a safe environment (outside the party) and gave myself permission to move through the big reaction.
Upon waking up the next morning, this self-help nerd was FASCINATED by my big reaction, and relieved that the panicky feelings had subsided.
Despite knowing it intellectually, I'm still amazed by how much quicker pain can pass when you actively commit to doing this kind of work on a regular basis.
Truth be told, I had JUST said to a close friend that as I approach 37 next month, I finally understand what Hollywood actresses have meant when they've said they've never felt more sexy or beautiful as they embark on their 40's and 50's--
The true love they cultivated for their inner selves was translating into the love they now had for their outer selves.
After years of berating my own body, I was proud to share with this friend that I had finally gotten to the same place.
Aaaaand then cut to Saturday night.
God I love how the Universe knows EXACTLY what to give you, RIGHT when you think you've got it all figured out...
So I did the Self-Coaching Thought-work model that my incredible coach, Brooke Castillo, created-- the same tool I repeatedly use on my clients.
And then it hit me: If this guy told me that my arms were fat, I would have laughed in his face and called him DELUSIONAL, because my THOUGHTS about my arms are the opposite of that.
However, my thoughts about my ass aren't as positive, despite how far I'd thought I'd come with regards to loving my body.
Wait. I'm sorry. Can we just pause and have a good chuckle about how I got to writing a self-help blog that entails my thoughts and other peoples' thoughts about my ass?!
Great. Thanks. Let's continue.
Truth be told-- I ACTUALLY AGREE with the comments about my ass! Of course I don't agree with the shameful delivery of them, but let's face it:
I have a B'DONKY-DONK, people!
And forgive the next lame pun, but I've worked my ass off at the gym for many years (something I love to do for my mind and body) and the results are in:
AIN'T. GOIN'. NO. WHERRRRRRE.
And before any more comments from my kind-hearted loves who's intention is to make me feel better roll in, please know I'm NOT SHAMING MYSELF WHEN I RECOGNIZE THAT I DO HAVE SOME JUNK IN MA TRUNK!
It's a pretty packed trunk that I would love to create some more loving thoughts around, and I already feel I'm shifting in that direction, thanks to the guy who reminded me that I wasn't as fully in love with my body as I'd thought.
WE HAVE THE POWER TO CHOOSE HOW WE WANT TO FEEL BASED ON THE THOUGHTS WE CHOOSE TO THINK ABOUT EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE.
What's tricky for many of us, is that we then get caught up in this idea that we should find a thought to make us feel better, but here's a big AHA that has blown my mind thanks to Brooke:
Sometimes, WE WANT TO FEEL ANGRY or some other painful emotion about circumstances out of our control. I for sure WANTED to be angry when I heard what was said. I wanted to make it clear I was not ok with it. I also wanted to run.
Recognizing this couldn't make me feel more FREE.
THIS IS THE ESSENCE OF THE WORK, MY LOVES!!!!!
Give yourself permission to feel what you WANT to feel, and take OWNERSHIP of that. But know that YOU are responsible for your own thoughts and feelings.
This guy (who gave me a LOVELY and BRAVE apology), is NOT responsible for my reaction, and he's not responsible for YOURS either, as I've already heard from protective friends who've expressed their dismay.
At the end of the day, this is about ME and MY relationship to my body-- no one else's.
And when I'm truly in love with every damn inch of it, I'm going to laugh off any shameful comment, in the same way I laughed off my 7-year-old nephew's comment about how weird my long neck is, over Christmas dinner.
My neck doesn't bother me so I found it HYSTERICAL that he, as well as my 87-year-old client are quite fascinated by it.
And let me tell you something else: If you decide to work with me, I'm gonna be pretty anal about you recognizing that your negative thoughts are ALL YOURS... They're not the cause of someone else's words or behavior.
We can talk boundaries another day.
I said it.
Happy Claire Your Mind Monday.
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