Until recently, I couldn’t think about going to a party or even to the grocery store without breaking into a cold sweat. My heart raced, my mouth would go dry and I got tunnel vision.
It didn’t matter whether I was meeting family/friends or a roomful of strangers.
I remember using the excuse that I wasn’t feeling well because the thought scared me to death.
“All eyes are going to be on what I’m wearing.”
“They’ll think I’m fat.”
“What if I say the wrong thing and they think I’m stupid.”
“I might offend someone and then they’ll yell at me or be mad at me.”
These are just a few of the incessant thoughts that caused me to become shy, withdrawn and miserable.
Even if I did end up going to a party, I would lie in bed playing back the evening in my head so that I could make sure that I didn’t say or do anything stupid. If I thought that I did, I would replay the scenario, beat myself up and then figure out how not to make that stupid mistake again.
It took boatload of energy to get myself psyched up not only to walk in the door but also to make small talk. A glass or two of wine helped but it felt wrong using it as a crutch.
I’ve lived with this anxiety since I was a teenager. Fortunately,therapy got me on the road to recovery in my 30’s and coaching picked up where that left off.
Once I got a handle on it, I began to unpack my anxiety and discovered its lies:
1. “Everyone is judging me!”
Not true. My anxiety was ALL about MY judgments. I made up stories in my head that “everyone” was judging me, and, while some may have been, it started with me not accepting myself.
2. “If I don’t conform to what everyone wants then no one will like me.”
My anxiety was a by-product of people-pleasing. I became adept at morphing myself into who I THOUGHT the person standing in front of me wanted me to be. The thought of walking into a room full of people was overwhelming simply because I knew I couldn’t be everything to everyone in the room.
3. “I can’t make a mistake because then everyone will see that I’m not perfect and a fraud.”
Hello Perfectionism! It made me nauseous to even think about being wrong. The embarrassment of being wrong or making a mistake was enough to make me want to run and hide, and that’s what I did for the majority of my life. If I wasn’t around people then there isn’t the possibility of screwing up.
What I realize now is that my survival mechanism or ego had me convinced that I needed to be perfect to survive and be worthy of love.
4. “Sally’s got it all together, I’m such a loser next to her but at least I’m not a hot mess like Matilda.”
Welcome to my comparison thoughts. These are just another form of judgment. It seems like they would be ok, at least the ones that make us feel good. I’m better than Matilda so I have that to feel good about.
In the end, all of this comparison creates competition and somebody has to lose. It is a constant up and down of emotions as we judge others as better/worse than us. It is a game we cannot win because the rules keep on changing.
What an exhausting way to live!
I don’t like to think of myself as selfish but look at the thoughts: they’re all about me!
My anxiety had nothing to do with anyone but ME. Primarily, the thoughts and judgments in my head.
Rather than focusing and connecting with the people in the room, my focus was on me and how I look.
I realized that I’m not alone. Most people are so focused on how they’re being perceived that they don’t even think about me.
I finally learned that I am not going to die if I’m not perfect. I don’t have to be anyone except who I am and I really like who I am. I know myself to be someone who will own my mistakes and do my best to make it right when I mess up. I now practice honoring myself as well as the people around me.
My confidence began to rise as I stopped comparing and beating myself up. I practiced trusting me.
Does this resonate with you? What can you do?
~ Notice your thoughts. What are you saying to yourself? Meditation is great for helping to put space between you and your thoughts.
~ Question your thoughts. Is it true that Sophie gave you a dirty look across the room so she must be mad at you? Maybe her eyes were bothering her, maybe she had a stomach ache, you don’t know. Stop making things up and stick with the facts.
~ Give yourself permission to start focusing on you. What do you like? What do you want? Separate yourself from the need to make everyone else happy.
~ Have fun! Release the pressure and be who you are. Let life be joyful and begin to flow.
A great resource is Byron Katie’s The Work. On her website you can view videos of Katie working with people to question the thoughts in their head. She also has worksheets that you can download for free to help you through the process.
If you find that you need something more, consider working with a therapist or a trained coach. If you’re not sure which is right for you, contact me and I’d be happy to help you figure out what’s best for you.
I wish I had a magic wand so I could quiet all of those negative thoughts, judgments and fears but I don’t. You’ll have to do the work yourself.
I promise you, it’s worth it!
Thanks to all those who have shared with me either through Facebook or in person, what has come up for you as a result of me sharing my weight loss journey.
I’m grateful for the honesty and for the opportunity to know that we are in this together.
Here’s my update:
-I have been consistent with my exercise, running or walking 2.5 to 4 miles at least every other day.
-I have drastically reduced my consumption of sugar, flour and meat.
-I have increased the number of vegetables and fruit I eat.
-I am down 9 lbs.
I even went to NYC for a few days and was able to come home without having gained any weight.
I’m glad I’m writing all of this down because the voice in my head has been very active lately and this is how it has been going:
Me: “I lost 9 lbs!”
Voice in my head: “You need to cut down even more so you will lose more, faster. Stop eating sweets and snacks all together, you shouldn’t be eating any of that stuff anyway if you’re really serious about losing weight.”
Me: “But I’m ok with how it’s going…”
VIMH: “You’re not doing good enough! Look at those people on Facebook who are posting pictures of all the weight they’ve lost. And you’ve only lost a measly 9 lbs.! You have at least another 15 lbs. to lose! You might as well give up now, you know you don’t have the willpower and besides wouldn’t some peanut M & M’s taste real good right now, but you can’t have them because you need to lose weight…”
And on and on and on!
Needless to say these thoughts caused a downward spiral as I let them take control.
This felt so familiar.
I could feel that sense of wanting to give up, feeling helpless and hopeless, the feeling that I can never be happy eating food that was good for me and that I will never lose AND keep this weight off.
The next step of this pattern is letting myself have cake to celebrate a birthday, after all it was just one small piece. Then it’s having ice cream 3 nights in a row just because I wanted it.
Suddenly I felt terrible. And I don’t just mean psychologically, I mean physically. I wasn’t sleeping well. I felt bloated.
I felt old. I know I’m getting older but I have never felt old.
Suddenly I realized I had lost track of why I wanted to lose weight in the first place.
After reading Danielle LaPorte’s book, The Desire Map a couple of years ago, I started setting my goals with the idea that it is not the goal I’m actually after, it’s the feeling I will have once I reach that goal.
Since then, I have not only reached my goals but I have actually enjoyed getting there.
The reason I want to lose weight is because I want to FEEL better! I want to feel confident and empowered.
I noticed that when I eat good healthy foods that is exactly how I feel, confident and empowered both physically and psychologically.
When I binge on cookies, candy, chips and cake, I feel better, temporarily. Then comes a wave of regret and the after effects of all those carbs which includes mental fogginess, bloating and the path to diabetes.
I’m eating healthy whole foods again. I have more mental clarity and feel happier.
I also like going to bed just a little bit hungry. I sleep better and seem to dream more, which I love!
A lower number on the scale is just a result. The real reason I want to lose weight is to feel happier, more powerful and confident. And I can achieve that right now just by the food choices I make.
How will you feel when you reach your ideal weight? What can you do right now to connect to that feeling?
I am participating in a blog hop this week. The theme is “Why I Write”. At the end of this, you will find other women business owners who are also participating.
I came out of childhood thinking that who I was was not ok.
I was thin as a child but I thought I was fat. At least that’s what my brothers and kids at school said.
When I was 10, I had a teacher who chided us for answering a question wrong by laughing and saying sarcastically, “My, isn’t that a gem of wisdom.” I felt average at best.
I learned to stay quiet and invisible so as not to subject myself to humiliation, ridicule or abuse.
Dr. Brené Brown’s research revealed that vulnerability is the only road that leads to living a whole-hearted life.
You mean the only way I can be joyous and fulfilled is to be vulnerable? This does not compute! And you can’t make me!
The child in me is still afraid of not getting it right and being made fun of or ticking someone off and being punished.
I can choose not to coach, not to write and live a quiet life of desperate agony. This I know all too well.
But there comes a time when the pain of not speaking up is stronger than the risk of being vulnerable.
I now consciously choose to be authentic and vulnerable and risk putting myself out there. I choose to write because I am tired of being afraid of being hurt and hiding who I am.
Because of the work I’ve done on myself, I now have the privilege of teaching others how to overcome their fear of vulnerability. Through my work as a coach, I help others shed their limiting beliefs and step into their authenticity.
Each successive blog post I’ve written has gotten more and more vulnerable for me. I try not to compare myself to other bloggers, coaches or anyone who may seem more vulnerable than I. (Iyanla Vanzant says that when we compare ourselves to someone else it is a form of violence against oneself.)
So why do I write? I write to face my fear of not being being liked, being wrong and upsetting people. I write so that others who feel the same way don’t have to feel alone anymore.
I write to be seen and heard. I write because I have to.
Below are the names of the women participating in the blog hop. I hope you will take the time to check out their blogs.
Joleene Moody is a client closing expert, business coach and speaker. She helps women entrepreneurs significantly increase their income by finding or creating speaking engagements — and then converting attendees to high paying clients.
I am sick of Facebook. I can’t go on without getting frustrated and annoyed.
My annoyance is so bad at times that I won’t go on Facebook for weeks at a time. Then I feel like a schmuck because I find out my elderly aunt has been sick and I didn’t see my cousin’s post.
When it seems like someone else is MAKING me feel a certain way, I know I have to take a look at myself. I have a choice to be a victim or be responsible for my interpretation of the situation.
These are my interpretations that are making me crazy!
I feel like everyone on Facebook has life figured out. They have the perfect job, the perfect family and are taking the perfect vacations. Everything in their life is perfect!
I know for a fact that some of the people coming across as perfect are far from it. They are choosing to put on a mask of perfection for whatever reason. Pride, vanity, to avoid shame and embarrassment if they admitted the truth?
I also get sick of those who are constantly complaining about their boss, their job, their friend, their co-worker, whoever has done them wrong. This sort of post seems to get responses from those who want to get the scoop and pass on the gossip and those who want to console the one who’s been “wronged.”
Of course, this is all done keeping the perpetrator’s identity anonymous, but you know who you are. And so does everyone else. And if you can’t figure it out just message them and they’ll tell you. DRAMA!
Ok, now it’s time for me to be a grown up.
Have you heard the one where if we can’t be with something in another person then that’s a part of us we can’t be with? In other words, if I look on my side of the street, I will see where I am doing those very things that really irk the heck out of me.
Am I guilty of putting on the mask of perfection? It hurts to admit it but yes. Yup, nothing to see here, I’ve got it all handled. A big LOL here!
I post about my wonderful kids and husband and they are wonderful, and imperfect. My husband and I have been together for 30 years now and I would be lying if I said we had it all figured out. We are still working on how to communicate on a deeper level other than what happened at work, on the golf course or at the grocery store.
I love both my kids and there are times I say “really?” when my daughter shows up with yet another hair color or mumble “dumb ass” under my breath when my son recounts his antics with his buddies.
And what about the drama? Even though I have been trying hard not to complain to others, there are times that complaints are just bouncing around in my head.
Debbie Ford said, “what we resist, persists.” When I try not to verbally complain and push away any mental complaints it just makes them stronger.
Then when I go on Facebook and see someone complaining, the floodgates burst. I begin complaining about the complainers!
What do I do with all of this? On Facebook, I can and have unfriended people who are constantly complaining and seeming to want to pick fights.
But what do I do about me? I can’t unfriend myself.
First, I choose where I’m going to complain. I have a few select friends whom I can go to and say, “I just need to complain about this.” They let me be victim until I get it out. Then if they hear me complaining after that, they remind me to be responsible.
Second, there’s really nothing else to do but accept and be me. Accept my mistakes, my feelings, my foibles and my imperfection. Sounds easy right?
It would be easy if there was something I could do like run around the house 5 times and poof! Suddenly I am no longer bothered by complainers or people pretending to be perfect. No such luck.
But, as soon as I practice authenticity, I become more accepting and compassionate not only of myself but with everyone else around me. Think I’ll try that next time I’m on Facebook.