The truth is, I was ashamed by the pictures. I remembered how it felt to be trapped in my own body. Looking at them brought back the perceived judgments from others, and of course, the self-condemnation that I engaged in (as I really put myself through some extreme mental anguish).
Perhaps the mental and emotional self-abuse was the reason I lost 100 pounds with a gastric bypass – only to gain back 85 of those pounds. I realized it was time to do the internal, emotional work (which doesn’t happen overnight, nor does it ever cease). But, I was better prepared to embark on the journey to permanently lose the weight, naturally.
Going back to that reflective lunch I shared with my friend, it was their suggestion to honor and give thanks to the girl in the picture – instead of judging and condemning her – that changed the way I felt about “her.” After all, she is the vessel that allowed the change to take place. I gained so much by walking in her shoes, and all of the experiences have helped me grow and transform.
My friend was right! I have spent many years condemning myself, adding to, and bottling up my own pain. Instead, I should appreciate all that experience brought me, not to mention how much more I can gain from learning to love me, even when I weighed 300 pounds (as I was the same spirit!).
Through her, I’ve learned compassion, perseverance, forgiveness, self-love, but best of all – I realized that I am healing.
All of our journeys lead us to a path of healing, but only if we allow ourselves to let go of our judgments and criticism. Many times we hinder our own healing by judging ourselves harshly and forgetting the lessons that we learned from our experiences.
We cannot erase the past, but dwelling on it is not healthy either.
Yet simply looking back with love, gratitude and appreciation for the lessons and growth, helps release the anguish and re-frame the perceived negatives into positives.
How to Get to a Place of Thanks
Sure, thanking the girl in the picture did not happen overnight – there was some emotional work that had to take place. This process is not always easy, but just like any challenge, if you’re willing to stick with it, the rewards are liberating.
Here are a few invaluable steps I took to get to a point of “thanks”:
1) Becoming Aware of Feelings
For me – I first had to acknowledge the feelings that would bubble up when I looked at pictures of myself back then. This meant resisting the urge to destroy the photos and run! Instead, I opted to spend time with the emotions to discover where they were coming from. I did not judge myself for feeling this way, I simply allowed it. After all, disregarding the feelings was only going to give them fuel to come back with a vengeance.
2) Finding a Sounding Board
After spending some time with the feelings the pictures brought on, they did not seem to go anywhere – they were stagnant. This is when I opted to be vulnerable and talk with a friend.
Many times opening up and sharing things like this helps us see a situation from a different perspective. Ironically, in that moment, I realized I had been the one judging and criticizing myself. Once upon a time, I blamed others for not accepting me as I was, when in reality, I was the one not accepting me.
3) Acknowledging the Journey
Once I realized that my own judgments and criticisms were what were driving the emotions, I decided to take on a different perspective. I firmly believe that every situation and experience on our journey serves a greater purpose. This belief prompted me to seek out what I gained from my experience of weighing 300 pounds. I realized that there are many characteristics that I might not have attained any other way. These characteristics have served me well, and have allowed me to bless so many others; I now see the experience with an attitude of gratitude.
Additionally, opening up and sharing my experience has brought me deeper healing as I continue to grow on this journey of self-love and acceptance. Ironically, or maybe it is as it should be, my path of extreme mental anguish and healing is what has led me to my true path in life – one of helping others.
Through our journey for happiness and self-discovery, when we reflect back to the person we used to be, we can sometimes feel ashamed and embarrassed. However, it’s important to remember that without that person – you would not be who you are today.
If you find yourself looking back at the former you in the mirror with shame, try the above exercises and work towards getting yourself to a place of love and acceptance. Like the article? Please share it with your friends or leave your thoughts below.