“When you consider yourself valuable you will take care of yourself in all ways that are necessary.”
M. Scott Peck
Have you noticed how connected your weight loss efforts are to how you feel about yourself? The most essential ingredient for permanent weight loss has nothing to do with food, exercise or how mindfully you eat. While these are important, they are not as important as this:
How we feel about ourselves impacts everything we do. When we feel good about ourselves, taking a brisk walk or eating nutritious foods feels easy. We’re drawn to healthy choices because they mirror our healthy mind-set.
When we feel unworthy, however, the heaviness of that emotional state leads us to make less than healthy choices. Unless we interrupt the cycle, those choices tend to reinforce feeling worthless. For example, if you’re upset with yourself for overeating, you may feel “What’s the point?” and feed your disappointment with chocolate chip cookies. This negative cycle continues with guilt and self-blame for eating the cookies.
A Positive Approach
I recently attended a Positive Psychology workshop where I learned about an extraordinary woman named Marva Collins. In 1975 Marva founded a private school in Chicago for impoverished students deemed learning disabled by mainstream standards. Her students’ successes exceeded everyone’s expectations. Marva received national recognition and numerous awards for her work. Her story was the basis for a television movie.
What does this have to do with weight loss?
Marva understood the power of love. When her students misbehaved, Marva did not discipline them with harsh or humiliating tactics. Instead, Marva helped them connect with their good. After misbehaving, she instructed the acting out student to write a list of his or her positive qualities, from A to Z.
“I am adorable, I am beautiful, I am courageous, etc.”
These, and other compassion based approaches, helped Marva’s students flourish.
They can help us, too.
Marva Collins’ approach reminds me of another story I learned from my favorite spiritual teacher, Dr. Wayne Dyer, about the Babimba tribe in Africa.
When one of the members of the tribe breaks a rule, the Babimba do not prosecute or shame the offender. Instead, the person is brought into the center of the village. All work stops and the entire village forms a circle around the person. One at a time, each villager tells all the good things the offender has done in their life, affirming everything they appreciate about the person. This continues, sometimes for days, until each member of the tribe finishes. This beautiful practice is so successful that the Babimba rarely need to use it.
How This Applies to You
These stories reveal how authentic love and kindness helps us value ourselves and others. When we feel worthy, taking care of our body feels natural. Releasing excess weight becomes easier. Strong self-worth is your most valuable asset because it is the fuel that guides you towards your highest and best good.
Become your own Marva Collins. Do as the enlightened Babimba do. Think of the times you’ve been hard on yourself and your body and commit now to unconditional self-love and kindness.
My invitation to you:
Create Your Self-Love List
1. Take some quiet, private time for yourself.
2. Get a special notebook or beautiful paper and pen.
3. Write a list of all your wonderful qualities, from A to Z.
(Yes, I know, there are some tough letters. Use a dictionary.)
4. Start each sentence with “I am…”
5. Take time to feel into each phrase.
To help you get started, take a peek at my list:
“I am accepting of myself.”
“I am big-hearted”.
“I am confident.”
“I am Divinely inspired.”
“I am eager to grow and learn”.
This isn’t just a “nice”exercise. This works because you train your mind and brain to scan for the good. Over time it helps override the tendency to immediately focus on the negative.
As you appreciate the good in you, the good in you appreciates.
After writing your list, review it periodically to support your self-worth. You can also do this when feeling discouraged about your progress. For example, the next time you berate yourself for not losing weight quickly enough, or if you feel disappointed about the number on your scale, take fifteen minutes to write a new self-love list. This shifts your attention to positive thoughts and reduces the tendency for emotional eating.
Acknowledge your own treasures. Weight release then becomes easier because you feel so valuable that taking good care of yourself and your body is the only option.
What does your self-love list look like?