Even as very small children we are taught to treat others the way we would want to be treated. This was the golden rule in my first child’s kindergarten class and something we strive to teach our children at home. We all encourage our children to make friends and accept each persons differences. No name calling, fighting or making others feel less of a person simply because they are different. Yet, how often do we apply the rule to ourselves?
No, I am not saying we as adults go into the office and start taunting office mates or poking fun of Judy and her high-water pants. I am saying, how often are we treating ourselves the way we want people to treat us? Most women do not. Just consider how often you look in the mirror and make a face or have a negative thought about yourself, thoughts about your hips, your thighs, that extra bit of fat under your chin or wherever it is that you stare at and think about.
Imagine walking into the office and having your boss walk up to you and compliment the outfit and then follow the compliment with “If only you did not have that fat on your inner thigh! Boy, then you would look great in those pants!” Aside from the fact it would be obvious sexual harassment in your cubicle the idea of someone being that rude is laughable. Yet, you don’t think twice when you say things like that every morning when you try on your clothing.
I once read that the most conversation we have in any given day is with our own selves. We repeat, without mercy, our own perceptions of self as we go about the day. Would you say those thoughts to your child? I have three young girls in my charge. That means I have three people recording my actions on a constant basis so they can learn how to think and feel and act as a woman. I am their role model and coach for the future. I cannot turn in the mirror and act disgusted with that fold of fat that won’t seem to stay hidden behind my bra strap no matter how many times I adjust that strap. I am their voice of reason when the media bombards then to look a certain way when they are older. Yet, I still think those thoughts from time to time and forget just how cruel it is to do to oneself.
“Treat others the way you want to be treated.” It's not that I want to go back and rewrite this age-old rule; it IS a good one. I would, however, like to add a footnote to this rule. “Treat yourself as if you were someone else.” Women are so hard on themselves. Our society jokes about asking our partners if we look fat in our jeans — the men run for the hills while pleading the Fifth Amendment. Only other female friends can understand or offer sympathy to our negative queries. They understand it because they do it as well.
We see our flaws as beacons of self-betrayal and hatred and forget the world sees us as a package. No one expects you to walk out of the house on a Monday morning looking like you are ready for a photo shoot. Yet somehow we stare at the girls on the magazine covers at the grocery store with the headlines screaming we can drop this fat FAST if we use this new diet tool, tip, secret, or equipment. Those models took time for that photo shoot and prepped for it with a trainer and a dietician. They did not wake up and get a call “Hey want to come in to the office today in your bikini so we can take some photos?” I am guessing even the fittest of models would panic and hang up the phone.
Sometimes these self-views stem from childhood, either from relatives or peers. Pointing out flaws we never even knew we had. We end up seeing ourselves with those views and erase the positive view we had previously. Some of these thoughts can go so deep you may not even be aware of the exact moment it was planted in your subconscious. No matter how it was planted it should not be there and it needs to be plucked out like a weed from the garden!
Each time you want to treat yourself poorly and repeat those negative thoughts, stop and apply this golden rule. You would not say to someone else that they would be far prettier if their nose were smaller. You would never tell someone that their butt is too big and they should never leave the house until they diet that butt down. I am sure the idea of patting someone on the belly and saying “easy fatty” is something you would never do!
So, stop doing it to yourself! When you begin to use those old familiar self-defeating words, stop immediately and tell yourself you no longer think like that. Look for something positive to say about yourself instead. Your hair, face, eyes, slender calves, anything to replace the negative thought. Those of you who rolled your eyes and said “UGH” when I said slender calves, please repeat the exercise with a positive remark about your body. It takes some time to learn new habits and this one certainly is a challenge to adopt. Keep at it, though, and then you can move on to complimenting others!