When you created your body timeline, were you reminded of your efforts to solve your problems with weight, shape, food, or body image?
Evaluating those efforts honestly is a useful strategy: It may point to solutions that worked well but have been abandoned prematurely, as well as steering you away from solutions that will not work no matter how hard you try to implement them.
So give it a try: In your journal, make a list of every single thing you have tried to solve your problem. Be exhaustive. If you’ve tried them, include medications, therapies, surgeries, exercise programs, fashion changes, diets, self-talk, being more positive or looking on the bright side, gym memberships, personal trainers, food delivery services, fasting, spa trips, eating or binging on “forbidden foods” in an effort to feel better, eating disordered behaviors, or anything at all else you can think of. List each strategy separately – each medication or diet pill by name, for example, each diet by name, and so on. The important thing is that you list every single thing you have tried to solve your problem, whether it was “healthy” or unhealthy, effective or not, helpful or not.
Once your list is complete, look at each strategy, one at a time. Ask yourself, for each strategy: How Far Has This Strategy Taken You Toward Solving Your Problem?
Be brutally honest. Did it help for a little while, but then stopped working? Did it make you feel better, without solving the problem? Did it make the problem worse? Did it work well, but you had to give it up? And if so, why? Was the strategy too costly in terms of money or time or effort? Was it dangerous or unhelpful in some other way? Don’t say, “I was just lazy,” or “It was my fault.” If it was really a good strategy, you would have stuck with it, so for any seemingly helpful strategy that you gave up, honestly admit to the costs that made it hard to implement, rather than blaming yourself.
How long is your list? Did you miss any? Go back, add in any you forgot, and evaluate each of them, too.
Now, look at that.
Did you realize that you had worked this hard to solve this problem? Do you deserve a gold medal for your efforts to solve this problem? I think you do. You have worked hard and tried hard and made an incredible, valiant effort to solve your body image issues. If you hate how you look, or you’ve received messages from other people that you should hate how you look, you may believe – or have been told – that your size and shape are your fault.
But look at your list! Whatever size or shape you are: It’s not your fault. You’ve worked hard, and tried hard, and given it your all – tried everything you can think of, and probably everything I can think of, too – and the problem remains.
How about your evaluations of these strategies? Here are some common categories; see if your strategies fit into these:
- The solution didn’t work at all.
- The solution made the problem worse.
- The solution made me feel better, temporarily, but didn’t actually do anything to solve the problem.
- The solution worked temporarily, but the problem returned. (And sometimes, the problem returned and was even worse when it came back!)
- The solution worked for some aspects of the problem, but didn’t help with others (or made others worse).
- The solution worked well, but I had to give it up because it was too costly or difficult to implement.
- I am not sure whether this solution would work because I haven’t given it a fair shot; I still think it may hold promise for solving the problem.
Do you have any number 7s on your list? If there are, the thing to do is to put down this your journal, get up from them computer, and take a deep breath, and pause. This blog offers a truly different approach, and I believe it is not worth your time to consider a new path if another well-worn strategy still holds promise for you. So if there are any strategies on your list that are 7s, go back to them and try them until either a) your problem is solved or b) they move into a different category on your list.
If you haven’t got any 7s, don’t despair. We’ll talk about that more tomorrow.