the blog of jewelry designer

March 11, 2015

Finding Beauty Beneath Ugly Self-Talk

From age thirteen to twenty, an eating disorder controlled my life and informed nearly every decision I made. After seven years in the throes of what some call 'The Beast,' I know what it is to be shackled by feelings of darkness and self-hatred. I empathize with people currently struggling to free themselves of those destructive feelings. Too many people are alienated from the truth about their own beauty.
The self-hate dialogue I fed myself for so many years went like this:
“You overate again. You’re disgusting. You dont know how to control yourself. You have no willpower. You are a failure.”
“Your body is gross. You will never be enough. No one will ever love you with the way you look.”
Without looking back at my old journals—which I still have—these are the thoughts I recall most vividly. There were many, many others. I know there were even worse things I said to myself from which I am (thankfully) so far removed that I cant remember.
Even today, I’m not completely free of body-centered negativity. One of the residual symptoms of an eating disorder is that I still struggle daily with pernicious thoughts like:
“My body could be so much better looking.”
“I’d look so much nicer if I lost five more pounds.”
“This shirt doesn’t fit the way I want because there’s something weird about my body.”
A younger version of myself thought the best plan was to simply ignore negative thoughts or to try to shut them out. But I found that when I did, they persisted and made me feel bad even when I thought I knew better than to give negativity power over me.
Over time, I learned the solution was to counter destructive self-talk with messages of positivity and self-love. Therefore, whenever my self-generated ugliness began, it triggered me to reply with thoughts such as:
“My body is beautiful exactly as it is this very moment.”
“I cherish, love, and adore my body. ”
I am so grateful for my healthy, wonderful body.
“Look at all the amazing things my body does for me!”
This new way of dealing with harmful thoughts became my self-made path away from days charged with masochistic, ineffective thinking. I'd finally discovered how to free myself from some of the most poisonous unkindness in the world: the unkindness that comes from within.
Of course, it didn't happen overnight. "Fake it 'till you make it," became my motto. After years of ACTING as if I believed the positive affirmations I was taught during: 12-step programs, treatment, therapy, positive mentors, uplifting books, and body image/nutrition counseling, I'd made it.
"We are flawed creatures, all of us. Some of us think that means we should fix our flaws. But get rid of my flaws and there would be no one left." 
-Sarah Vowell, Take the Cannoli
Why is negativity so much easier to believe? At first, it's hard inviting positive words in... especially when affirmations can initially sound slightly hokey and silly. But, you know what? Everything changes when you let your guard down. I was amazed to find when I believed something beautiful about myself, I began to heal.
I remember feeling so FREE and RELIEVED when it finally clicked. I had the power to change my thinking! I realized: those made-up thoughts? They were just that. Made-up.
It was essential to start feeding myself regularly, giving my mind the healthy fuel necessary to reflect on the impact such negativity has on the body and soul. Without a healthy relationship with food, my mind would have remained locked in a vicious cycle of negating self-talk.
Once I started really being in my life knowing that to be human is to be imperfect - that flaws are part of the deal - I loosened up. I started to love and trust myself; which empowered me to LET GO of voices telling me otherwise. The hardest but most important lesson I learned is that within imperfection IS perfection. It is simply perfect to be imperfect.
My profound wish for you? Believe the tried yet true cliché: "beauty comes from within."
"I think happiness is what makes you pretty. Period.
Happy people are beautiful. They become like a mirror and they reflect that happiness."
- Drew Barrymore
Embracing your uniqueness applies to attaining true physical beauty as well. What makes us unique, may also be things many don't like about themselves: a crooked nose, a gap between two front teeth, curly or straight hair, or a loud laugh. These "things" make us individuals. However, self-regard for our distinct lovability is tarnished when ugly thoughts control our minds. We're all too uniquely beautiful to let negativity win.
Try it and see how you feel. Let your negative self-talk serve as a cue to tell yourself something you love about you. I’m willing to bet it will make something beautiful happen in your life.
“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”
- Confucius
We have the option to see the beauty in ourselves.  Empower yourself to see your own beauty and how precious and singular you are.
Feel Beautiful,