Yuck. Not funny.
Maybe it’s because I’m a psychotherapist. I know that painful stories are hiding behind the attempt at humor. So when I hear jokes that poke fun at serious health and mental health issues, I cringe.
Our culture is so inundated with this stuff—think how many shame-inducing memes appear in your Facebook feed—that we’re desensitized to how harmful it really is. I want you to see how demeaning jokes undermine your weight-release journey, how you unwittingly join in, and how practicing radical self-respect protects you from their harmful effects.
Take Another Look at What’s Funny
My client Karen struggled with her weight since childhood and regularly joked about it. She would say things like, “Oh, I just look at food and gain weight” and “Chocolate calls out my name!” (Do you say things like that, too?)
Karen kept a cartoon on her refrigerator. The caption said, “Pie Calling.” It was a picture of an overweight women clasping her hands over her ears to stop hearing the pie across the room yelling, “Eat me…eat me!”
That cartoon belittled the struggle Karen was going through, so I discussed it with her. I told her she was being unkind to herself. She got it and said, “I never joke with my daughters about things that bother them like my mother did with me. It’s not right to do this to myself, especially about my body and weight.”
Karen threw away the cartoon. She said it felt liberating to no longer see her weight-loss struggle glaring at her face every day. By getting rid of the cartoon, Karen also healed a part of herself that was still hurting from childhood trauma. She’d started gaining weight when she was 10, shortly after her older brother began sexually abusing her. Her mother often criticized Karen about her weight and put her on restrictive diets. Karen remembered feeling sad and ashamed.
She came to understand that by keeping the cartoon, on some level, she was reliving the abuse, criticism, and shame she experienced growing up. She didn’t want her daughters to see or feel any of that toxic energy either.
Karen took a powerful stand against demeaning herself. It was an act of radical self-respect—and self-healing—to remove these words that seemed innocent yet undermined her health and wellness goals.
The Weight of Your Words
The energy of the words you use permeates your experiences and influences your self-worth and behavior. For example, when Karen looked at that cartoon—several times a day—it reminded her how food controlled her life. (And eventually she saw how she was reliving the emotional abuse from her childhood.) Sure, she could “joke” about it. But deep down, she knew it wasn’t funny. That cartoon fed Karen’s deeper fear that she never would break free from overeating. The pie would always win.
Posting that “funny” cartoon actually was an act of self-sabotage.
In many situations, kind-hearted joking is harmless. But joking about something that’s important to you and has been a chronic problem isn’t funny. It’s disrespectful. Your weight-release journey has been challenging enough. You don’t need to make it harder with cartoons and jokes that belittle your struggle.
Your words match how you feel about things—and there are likely things about your body or weight that you don’t like. But calling forth all that negative energy hurts you and keeps you stuck.
The energy of demeaning and belittling words—even if they’re “jokes”—filters into your subconscious mind and feeds your spirit images of defeat. And if, like Karen, you were abused or criticized as a child, you’re unwittingly hurting yourself the way others hurt you.
When you speak to yourself with the utmost respect, I promise you that your life—and weight-release journey—will quickly improve.
How to Start Radically Respecting Yourself
The good news is, once you identify those words and messages all you have to do is get rid of them. Easy peasy.
Here are some suggestions to treat yourself with radical self-respect:
- Commit to stop joking—and complaining—about your weight.
- Look around your home, workspace, and car. Notice what words and quotes you bring into your world via posters, stationary, key chains, kitchenware, sayings on your clothing, etc. Get rid of everything that in any way undermines your confidence and self-worth. Or that of others. For example, those silly t-shirts that say, “I’m with Stupid.” They gotta go, too.
- Some of the objects we own are unconscious symbols that reflect our struggles. For example, do you collect figurines of animals like hippopotamuses, pigs, or elephants? If they bring joy to your heart, keep them. But chances are they’re an unconscious reflection of your weight-release and body confidence struggle. Get rid of them. Replace them with symbols or animals that reflect how you want to see and feel about yourself. For example, a wise owl, graceful swan, or confident lioness.
- When others are joking or complaining about their weight, food choices, or body, choose not to participate. Offer a compassionate smile and be silent, change the subject, or walk away.
- When you see images on social media that are supposed to be “funny” but really are mean-spirited, don’t share, “like” or comment. Ignore them. Unsubscribe from anything that contributes to fat shaming or hurting anyone so these posts no longer contaminate your Facebook or Twitter feed… and your energy field.
- Whenever you buy something new, be discerning about the symbolic message you’re bringing into your home and life. Go for images that evoke a light, joyous feeling compatible with the new you.
By practicing radical self-respect, you lighten your energy field and emotional state. You then can give much-deserved unconditional love to your body-confidence journey… and yourself.
How will radical self-respect help you develop body confidence?