I owe tonight’s blog post to a lovely reader who sent me a link to a TED talk.
TED talks are amazing…leaders in their field giving an insight into their learnings…I am a geek for this kind of thing!
The talk I watched was by Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW – a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.
These areas of Brené’s study resonate with me…and perhaps you too?
I will say right upfront that to get the best understanding, Brené is your lady…so if you can spare the time – the talks are about twenty minutes each – then go for it. What she says, and how she says it, is fairly powerful…she is a true expert in her field. You might want to watch them in the right order too…the vulnerability one first, followed by the shame!
So I am not claiming to be an expert of any sort in this field. I am an expert in my own shame, vulnerability, courage, and worthiness…and this is why I wanted to share her words with you – as they were shared with me. They rang true – I noticed some of my old patterns, and I realised that my weight loss is happening because I have been able to deal with my shame, show some vulnerability, courage, and truly believe that I am now worthy.
Of all of the messages that I took from Brené’s talks the most powerful one for me was ‘Believe that you are worthy’…something which I found difficult.
After leaving school, I found it difficult to fit in – I never felt as if I deserved to succeed. At school I was fairly lucky – I fell in with the ‘in crowd’, my best friend was a guy who all of the girls fancied, I wasn’t short of friends, rarely bullied, rubbish at sports…but the boys used to help me out with that – in fact I remember them scraping me up off the all-weather pitch after tripping over the last hurdle in a 100 metre sprint (which wasn’t really a sprint for me!).
When it came to the work environment, my first few roles went really well. I was lucky to be taken under the wing of a good boss, and whenever I went for interviews I always got the job – so my confidence was pretty high. Then I started noticing the office game playing. Who had the nicest ‘stuff’ – I could compete when it came to handbags and watches…Mulberry bags and TAG watches generally fitted regardless of my size! I could compete when it came to cars – Golf GTIs in my late teens and a Mercedes sports in my early 20s ticked that box. But when it came to the flirtation and the sharp suits…I could never compete. And it started to bother me.
I like to think of confidence as a bank account. You’re in credit and life is rosy. But as soon as you get into debt, and your confidence stores are chipped away at, it is so fecking hard to get back into the credit zone!
So my confidence debt very slowly started to pile up. From my mid-20s onwards I felt a little out of my depth at times. The workplace politics I struggled with – greatly. I have a tendency to say it as it is…and I could never understand those people who slated someone behind their back, but yet were as nice as pie to their face. If I didn’t like someone, I struggled to keep a poker face. I felt like an outsider – someone who didn’t know how the play to game. The only game I wanted to play was one of success…via integrity, intelligence, honesty, hard-work…I had no idea how to play the game of politics, manipulation, gossip, and the like.
And I struggled.
I started to doubt my ability. I started to become bothered by things that didn’t really matter – the clothes, the flirting, the handbags, the watches, the cars. All I wanted was peace…does that sound wanky? All I wanted was a role in which I felt valued. I wanted to make a good contribution, and be recognised for that contribution. I wanted to work for people who wanted to same thing.
I started to think that all of the crap stuff that happened was my fault…because I didn’t deserve good things.
This spiralling confidence led to a spiral in my weight…an upwards spiral that I could see no end to.
I felt embarrassed…I felt shame…I felt terrible. I couldn’t stick to a simple healthy eating plan despite wanting it so much. I felt shame when I was asked if I wanted to see my niece and nephew grow up…of course I did, but I wanted the food more.
So many people that I coach talk about things that link to shame – although we rarely use that word. They want children…either a first child, or an addition to the family…and they feel shame that they cannot chose healthy eating…they feel as if they are choosing food over a family. They want health – or have health issues that could be solved with weight loss…yet they choose to eat and feel shame about their choices.
Anyway – I wrote down a few random words as I was watching Brené…I will share them with you, and try and make some sense of them…
Wholehearted – Brené noticed that her research showed that people who lived ‘wholehearted’ lives shared three things in common. Courage, compassion, and connection – the courage to be imperfect; the ability to show compassion to themselves first…as you can’t show it to others if you can’t do it for yourself; and a connection which stemmed from the courage to be imperfect – to love in an authentic manner. Finally, they shared vulnerability – they embraced vulnerability and a willingness to do something when there are no guarantees…such as saying ‘I love you’ first, or investing in relationships that might not work…putting themselves out there without a guarantee of feelings being returned.
Vulnerability – it is the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of love, of belonging. Yet we are often ashamed or fearful of showing our vulnerability. We numb this emotion…over eating, alcohol, drugs….when we numb one emotion, we numb them all – joy, gratitude, happiness. We need to feel these emotions, to use them as intended!
We need to let ourselves be seen; to love with wholeheartedness…even if there is no return guarantee; we need to practice gratitude and joy. We need to feel that, ‘I AM ENOUGH!’
These were my random musings about the first TED talk.
The second talk was Brené’s closing statement I guess. She had never imagined that her first talk would become so popular…over 12 million views I believe. And an outpouring of ‘hear, hear’ from people…people sharing their stories.
She spoke about shame. We never feel good enough…we might muster up the courage and power to change…and when we get what it is we wanted – be that a degree, or a new job, or hitting our target weight – we then have that sense of ‘who do you think you are?!’ How many times have you felt that…I know I bloody have, on a number of occasions!
Brené discussed how guilt links to our behaviour – so we feel guilty about something we have done – whereas shame is about ourselves…it’s deep, it’s powerful, it almost freezes us at times and prevents action. Interestingly, Brené found that shame is highly correlated with eating disorders.
Shame is linked to a web of unattainable, conflicting and competing emotions about who we are supposed to be. What we are told that we should be as a child…the ‘checklist’ of life goals that we should attain – happy and settled by 25, starting a family at 30, peak of your career by 40. Images in magazines, trying to fit in. We are conditioned from an early age!
The three things which increase shame are secrecy, silence, and judgement…empathy helps.
So that’s it from me really. I haven’t had much time to process what I watched really. It just struck a chord with me. Those old behaviours and feelings and how they contrast with my life now. I genuinely believe that I am enough…that I am good enough to get that happy and healthy life that I want.
But let me tell you…it’s a shitty process to go through. Realising that your behaviour needs to change. That you have to open up and embrace emotions that seem far easier to suppress. It is hard. But it is well worth it.
If you want to read more about Brené and her work, then check out her website. I am sure that it will be far more bloody enlightening and thought-provoking than my randomness has been!
Today has been okay. I didn’t sleep that well, but got up and faced the gym! Leg day – I love it! Then I headed to see the horses…I had to swap batteries around for the electric fencing, and then worm two of them, and then top up the two troughs. Then we went to Asda to grab food for a picnic. It wasn’t a nice weather picnic…it was a hospital car park picnic! It is so hard to find parking spaces, or to even get into the grounds due to traffic – although if people like me didn’t get there so early, I guess there wouldn’t be so many issues! We had a car picnic, people-watched, and then I headed in the see my psychologist. You know that you are doing a good job when he says ‘YESSSSS’ when he sees your weight on the scales. He then did say, “I don’t know why I keep seeing you, you don’t need me!” – but he was only joking…he wants to be there, as does the dietitian, for when things aren’t going so well…when Plan A needs to become Plan B. We chatted for a while about excuses, about how we delude ourselves, about how frustrating it can be to know that someone can make progress but that they are choosing not to. This was the crucial element for me…I chose not to change. I had all of the tools – the knowledge, the education regarding healthy eating, the access to healthy food, the ability to attend Slimming World – I just chose not to. I will catch up with him in another few months and see how things are going then. Mr WLB and I then headed home. He is rather pleased with himself…his body fat percentage has dropped by 4%…so he rewarded himself with a giant bag of Kettle crisps, a veggie family-pizza, and a bag of giant cookies…I have no words!
Breakfast: Banana porridge (5 syns).
An okay food day. My usual brekkie – I am yet to feel boredom with porridge…it just feels like a good fuel to me now! Lunch was my car picnic – a box of salad, some sliced chicken, cottage cheese, and a couple of wholemeal rolls perched on top. Dinner was an omelette – spinach, red onion, mushroom – topped with cheese and eaten out of the pan as it looked too nice to ruin! My pudding snack of the moment…0% Total Greek yogurt, Asda frozen cherries, and a cocoa Nakd bar for 6.5 syns…it seriously is like a gateau in a bowl – I love it.
Exercise: 5 minutes treadmill, 50 minutes weights, and 25 minutes elliptical machine.
Thank you for reading,
Weight Loss Bitch xxx