Are you in an abusive relationship… with yourself?
Are you in an abusive relationship... with yourself?
By Jasmine Fitzgibbon, The Wholesome Heart
When you hear of someone being in an abusive relationship, I’m sure, like myself, it absolutely breaks your heart to hear that someone can feel so trapped and unable to escape that kind of negative, debilitating environment.
Did you ever stop to think that you could be creating this environment… with yourself?
Abuse is not always as obvious as being hit or shoved, called degrading names or being yelled at. Abuse can come in the form of mental and emotional abuse, too. It is usually harder to recognise and notice that this is happening when you are doing it to yourself.
I bet at some point – daily – you have judged yourself, you have put yourself down: “Don’t wear that dress, your arse looks fat”, “OMG, why do you have so many pimples, you look like a crater face!”, “Don’t say anything in the meeting, you will look like an idiot, you’re not as smart as everyone else here”… do any of these sound familiar?
What about the constant guilt trips when you eat? “If you eat that cupcake, you can’t eat dinner”, “Well, you’ve failed again, you ate the stupid cupcake, how pathetic”.
Maybe you’ve withdrawn from social occasions because you don’t think you’re pretty enough or smart enough or because you know there will be food you ‘shouldn’t’ eat there and you don’t believe you have any willpower.
Then there are the other kinds of punishment: starving yourself, bingeing, slogging it out at the gym, doing something that you don’t even enjoy because you hate your body. So many of us glorify ‘busy’, thinking that we always need to be doing something, whether that be working late, attending every social occasion, always saying yes even if we don’t want to and running around like a headless chook… and this somehow means we are better than everyone else. We try to impress our friends, as if they will like us more for being super busy and over-achieving.
It’s far too common these days to see this kind of self-judgement and self-hating behaviour. Well, to be honest, you may not even see it in your friends or family as so many people are doing it silently to themselves.
Have you ever thought that if you heard someone say the sort of things you say about yourself in your head to anyone out loud, you would pull them up and tell them it’s not acceptable to speak to someone that way? Yet this is the stuff we say to ourselves on a daily basis!
OK, so let’s start way back when I was in my early 20s… I would constantly judge myself and then punish myself, a merry-go-round of self-loathing. I would work my arse off as an executive assistant, personal train clients in the early morning and later in the evening, I would also work as an event manager on weekend events… now that’s just my work life. I thought that being ‘super busy’ with work would impress people, that I could handle it all, that making a lot of money was the be all and end all.
Of course, I would still go out with my friends after work, Thursday to Sunday. Seriously, what was I thinking? Clearly that I could do everything, be everywhere and never miss a beat. I even remember having a minor car accident one morning at 7am because I had worked at an event the night before, then trained a client at 5.30am and clearly was sleep deprived!
As for my eating habits, even as a personal trainer I thought I knew how to feed myself. I thought drinking my protein shake (which wasn’t very nutritional) was the best thing for me and then I could only eat rice, chicken and broccoli to keep thin. If I ate anything else I would literally punish myself. To sustain the energy of my schedule I would drink soft drinks and eat sugars to keep me going then hate myself for doing it. What a vicious cycle.
The people I was surrounded by and the things I read in the media made me believe that that’s all I should be eating. Remember the saying ‘Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’? That is why so many people have horrible relationships with food, because we were fed this kind of talk. I would force myself to work out at every opportunity and I’d never rest.
Every time I looked in the mirror I would see a tired-looking 20-something girl, bags under her eyes, pimples, grey face, too curvy, arse to big – I would sit and pick out every single thing I hated… if there was a pimple, I would pick at it, degrade myself and say things like, “You’re going to leave the house with that and everyone is going to stare. What is wrong with you?”.
My self-confidence and self-love were pretty much non-existent! How freaking sad is that? I created an environment where I put myself down, ate rubbish food that my body couldn’t use, worked crazy hours thinking it made me look better as a person and then would party all night, exhausted because I thought that I could never miss anything.
But you need to realise, this environment, these words we say to ourselves, we can change them, but the only person who can make the change is you.
Firstly, let’s make it clear, you are NOT ALONE, if you have these thoughts, do these things, I am right there beside you. I, too, have said it all to myself and treated myself like crap. I still now have to pull myself up when I start to do it again. It’s a forever learning journey, but an extremely important mind-set to change.
Fast-track to when I started learning that ‘your body is a temple’. I swear I thought people were a hippy if I heard someone say it, until I realised that they were right! This stuff is legit and my temple was crumbling from the tsunami of poor food, a packed schedule and self-talk that would make even the most confident person curl up in a ball and cry.
Why is this becoming the ‘norm’? It’s pretty unbelievable that it is now ‘normal’ to hate yourself more than appreciate yourself. How did that happen? I’m sure you have a fair idea: TV, magazines, social media – the list is endless.
Clearly we need to be kinder to ourselves, but what is self-love? It can look very different to everyone. Self-love to me is the food I choose to nourish myself with, the people I surround myself with, the work I do, the way I treat my body and even the way I talk to myself. Have a think, what is self-love to you? This is really important because no one can tell you how to love yourself. You have to actually want to and believe in it.
So what can you do to treat yourself more kindly?
UNFOLLOW SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS
Stop and think about your social media feed, whether it be Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. What does your feed consist of?
Social media mainly shows the positive and happy, beautiful images that may have been completely altered and photo-shopped. I love taking beautiful pictures, I love looking at happy things, BUT I am not in denial that life is all smiles, picture-perfect food or dream holidays. It’s OK to show these things, but always be real. I hope I display that. I only ever pick images that I truly love, things that reflect my values and the values of The Wholesome Heart.
Try scrolling through your Insta and social media lists and look at who and what pages you follow. Just remember that not everything is ‘real’. Don’t follow accounts that make you judge yourself. I follow people I would want to be friends, therefore when I do scroll I don’t become depressed or feel guilty, I’m uplifted and inspired!
REPAIR YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD
I want to educate you to listen to what your body needs and nourish it properly. What worked for you today might not work tomorrow, and that’s normal. So don’t think that because you are vegetarian today or paleo tomorrow that you have to stay that way forever. Try a new way of eating, research and see what could work for you. You need to stop judging yourself for every choice you are making.
Do you want to eat that piece of chocolate? By all means eat it and don’t feel guilty. The more you deprive yourself of anything, the more you will crave it until, boom, BINGE ALERT. Rather than riding the merry-go-round of self-loathing, try getting creative and making your own raw chocolate. Fill it with goodness and never feel guilty again.
***Check out The Wholesome Heart site for amazing tasty recipes!***
When you go to a restaurant, rather than being overwhelmed with the menu, check it out online first. Make your choice ahead of time when you’re not starving and under pressure.
1. You don’t need to stress yourself out with food choices, it will only raise your cortisol levels and make it even harder for your body to digest your food.
2. You’ll be the first person ready to order and you won’t feel rushed into choosing something your body doesn’t need.
3. Remember: regardless of your choice, no judgement – FULL STOP. If you get to the restaurant and forget to check out the menu before you leave, it’s not the end of the world. Be kind to yourself.
If you see someone and think, wow, I love that perfume, SAY IT! Not for them to return the compliment, but to spread love and appreciation.
Mirror to the world what you wish to see in yourself and others. You want to feel special, make someone else feel special, it will come back to you 10-fold. Don’t believe me? Try it!
I believe this is THE most important point. It’s the one that can debilitate us and hold us back the most. The constant judgement and criticism, day in day out, can wear you down.
So, next time you hear your mean girl pop up and try to bring you down, look in the mirror and think of three, just three, physical things you love about yourself. Do you love your make-up today? Or maybe you know you have a killer smile, or you might be wearing a top that flatters you.
Then I want you to think of three things that you can’t see that you love about yourself. You might have eaten a piece of cake today and you didn’t judge or punish yourself for enjoying it, or you love that you have a great big heart and care so much for your friends and family.
I am here to tell you that you are ENOUGH!
> You are Beautiful
> You are Smart
> You are Kind
> You are Strong
> Trust your heart, quieten your mind and believe in yourself
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
It is really important as a society that we look at how we are treating ourselves. Would you want your daughter or your son to have these thoughts? We can change our thought patterns, we can show the next generation that it is important to love ourselves, be kind and treat our body with respect. Imagine if we all treated ourselves like this, do you think we would ever treat another human being any different?
If you would like to work together to create strategies and restore your relationship with yourself, I can empower you to live a life you love, to love yourself and develop skills to lead a healthy lifestyle. Contact me, Jasmine, and we can chat about your goals.
If you can, make one person smile today, give one compliment, smile at a stranger, be genuine and radiate the incredible person that you are.
If you know anyone who is struggling, please hold out your hand, make them feel safe and tell them to contact their medical practitioner or contact Lifeline.
Lifeline – www.lifeline.org.au or 13 11 14
Jasmine Fitzgibbon of The Wholesome Heart is an Integrative Health and Nutrition Coach and by putting her story out there, it is a step to removing common stigma’s and opening the ‘floor’ (so to speak) for us all to know we are not alone and create a community to grow.
Jasmine now offers a free initial consult to Nourish Melbourne Members and following this, 20% off their first coaching package and 10% off all coaching packages thereafter. Click here for details or if you're not a member and would like to know more about the Nourish Melbourne Membership which welcomes you to save on all things wellness, click here.