Do you find yourself speaking very harshly to yourself when your body doesn’t conform to the ideal you hold in your head and praising yourself ONLY when it does?

Do you find that you speak unkindly to yourself NO MATTER what your body shape is?

Are you able to accept yourself? To what degree? Do you begrudgingly accept yourself but also hold strong distaste when you look at yourself, or are you able to speak kindly to yourself when you look in the mirror?

Culturally, our collective mental health has taken a huge hit, sometimes for the past few generations, as women feel pressured to conform to certain body shapes, regardless of age, physical ability, or life circumstances.

Name-calling, fat-shaming, and stereotyping have affected all aspects of our lives from being able to find jobs, friends, mates, and clothes. It has become so ingrained that to learn self-acceptance and self-love is, in itself, an act of rebellion!

To learn self-acceptance and self-love is, in itself, an act of rebellion!

As I’ve gotten older, I have found more and more strength to do exactly that—learn self-love. It isn’t a badge of honor to put ourselves down! It isn’t a mark of inner strength to be brutal with ourselves!

As we age, our bodies change, and weight gain, unfortunately, seems to be part of that package!

As we age, are we able to make mental shifts in how we speak with ourselves so we can develop a healthy relationship with ourselves?

As a former anorexic (in my twenties, and currently facing sixty), I find myself sometimes still triggered when I glimpse my rounded midsection.

I have worked very hard on myself these past few years, so I no longer call myself terrible names. However, I still do get that chill down my spine, and the gut urge (no pun intended) to go on a diet!

Accepting myself for who I am, in my current phase of life, is ongoing work I need to do; otherwise, I might slide right back down that old rabbit hole into negative self-talk!

My mission now isn’t to be skinny, as it had been in my twenties. I paid that steep price with my physical and mental health when I went through exercise anorexia and occasional bulimia.

While I hadn’t gotten to a point of experiencing some of the symptoms of severe anorexia, I did go through that terrible time with very dark self-talk, of having my menstrual cycle stop for a year, having weakened muscular issues due to insufficient calories, and even having difficulty finding clothes which fit properly.

My current mission is to focus on being healthy, in three major areas: body, mind, and spirit.

Having experienced some mild COVID symptoms last year, I find that my stamina was greatly affected, so I become tired and out of breath far quicker than I did previously. The effect of COVID promoted more sedentary behavior, so now I’m trying to be very mindful about getting outside for walks when the weather permits.

In the great heat of summer, and with the loss of daylight during the winter months, I miss my fitness goals and the weight gain shows up. When the weather gets better, I am back out doing my walks and other fitness activities, but I need to develop alternate strategies to sneak fitness into my life.

A co-worker and I have started going on short walks inside the building where we work. Going to the restroom, for example, is a perfect time to get in a few extra steps, even to walk up and down the stairs.

While I enjoy listening to the news on the public radio station during my commute, I also try to turn on a music station to move a little while I drive. When I remember, I turn on Pandora, while I prepare dinner, because it promotes dancing around and helps me to get some movement in.

Even little things we do can add up to a healthier life, so don’t dismiss those things as not being meaningful enough!

Developing a healthy relationship with ourselves takes work and persistence, especially in the beginning because it won’t feel at all natural!

We may think that speaking harshly might motivate us to do better, but in truth, it only ends up discouraging us and removing our desire to persist! Learning to speak to myself in a gentle and positive way has given me even more inner strength to be able to accomplish things!

Resources for Positive Self-Talk

Tamara Kulish started writing when the publisher of her illustrated children’s book suggested she write down her philosophical thoughts and put them into a book! Developing Happiness When You Can’t Find It is the second personal development book to come out of this suggestion; she has developed workbooks and guided journals to serve as life development tools. All her books (on Amazon) contain information and techniques she learned and employed on her own healing journey, having overcome mental and physical abuse in her youth which led her into two very difficult marriages where she lost large portions of herself.

Readers of her latest book have quickly found themselves being catapulted into a new type of healing journey. Nicole Fagerhaug, the producer and narrator for the audio book, Developing Happiness When You Can’t Find It, even found herself being pulled into her own inner reflections while narrating. Read the interview here: Interview with my Narrator, Nicole Fagerhaug – Tamara Kulish