“If I could just lose a few pounds, I would be OK.”
“If my thighs were a little bit thinner, I would be OK.”
“If I were perfect, then I could be OK.”
When I was young, I was not OK with myself. I was obsessed with my butt. I was convinced it was TOO BIG! I was this really skinny kid. I had legs for days. But I had a really round rear end.
All I could see was this round thing. I was determined to get rid of it, so I could be perfect. I exercised and was brutal about what I ate and held myself to an impossible standard. Because that was the only thing I had control over — I could control what I put in my mouth. I could control what I looked like. But I set myself up for inevitable disappointment. Any time I failed, I would HATE myself. I’d say, “See, that’s why you can’t lose weight.”
A lot of that obsession — and that’s what it was, obsession — was a lack of self esteem.
Here’s the problem — even if you find a way to achieve the “perfect” body, the rest of your problems don’t go away.
When my body was absolutely perfect, when I was in my teens, I was so self-conscious, I couldn’t appreciate it. Then, when I got older, I wanted to go back to the way I was when my body was “perfect.” It’s a never-ending cycle!
My perfectionism even got in the way of my ability to enjoy sex later on — I always got afraid that someone was going to judge me the way I was going to judge myself. I thought you had to have this perfect body to take off your clothes — so I did things to hide my less-than-perfect body. I kept the lights off. I kept on strategic clothing.
That didn’t leave me much freedom for passion! When your head is full of all that self-criticism, you never fully give yourself. You can’t let yourself go. You’re too self-conscious — you don’t give the other person credit that they might think you’re beautiful!
The big fear is rejection — if he doesn’t like me, then I’m NOT OK! Perfectionism is the killer of intimacy. Perfectionism is the killer of self-esteem. Perfectionism is pretty much the killer of everything.
I see the same cycle in some of my clients — no matter how hard they work out or how beautiful they are, it’s never enough. One of my clients has a perfect body. But if I walk down the street with her, and a woman walks past with long legs, I see the way she looks at her. I know she’s thinking, “Why can’t I look like that?” She can’t see the different genes that woman was born with. She can’t see her own beauty.
I couldn’t see my own beauty for a very long time. In fact, even when I did the photo shoot for the website, I was terrified. It was really hard for me to look at myself because of my perfectionism. My sense of self revolved around “I’m not this enough. I’m not that enough.”
As long as we’re striving for perfectionism, we’ll never be happy. But people still chase after it. I used to chase after it. You never, ever get there. I see it all the time.
I try to instill this philosophy in every person I work with: it’s not about being perfect. It’s about being the best that YOU can be. Whenever I work with clients, I have them do an exercise where they make a list of the things they really like about themselves, and then I ask them to get coworkers, friends or family to describe them in 3 words. It’s astonishing what happens when you step back and see yourself the way other people actually see you — the positive things they say and not the negative.
For me, what it means to be healthy is to have self-acceptance. All the things your body brings to you, you should be grateful for. Like this round rear end I used to hate. It does a lot for me! I got to the point where I could say, “Yeah, I have a round rear end!” And now, everybody’s trying to get butt implants — I’ve had it all my life, and it took me all this time to get comfortable with it, and now it’s fashionable!
The thing is to be OK just the way you are. It’s all in our head. We’re really perfect just the way we are.
Are you ready to accept how wonderful you really are?