Highlights for Listen to What You’re Saying
- How we talk to and about ourselves (0:30)
- 2 reasons women put themselves down (1:25)
- Your permission to be remarkable (and take a compliment!) (3:50)
- How we talk about other women (and 3 reasons why we do it) (5:40)
- Who else is listening to what we’re saying (9:15)
- What you can do now … and from now on (11:45)
Listen to What You’re Saying
This week, I continue to build on letting go of the expectations from all around us and getting to understand what we really want and what could be holding us back. Now, let’s talk about how we talk to ourselves, about ourselves, and about others … and who else is listening to us and what they’re learning from us.
How We Talk To and About Ourselves
As women, we have all experienced the following…
You show up at an event and start walking towards your friend. You tell her she looks amazing, and she says one of the following responses—
- “Oh no! I look terrible! I need to lose 20 pounds.”
- “Are you kidding me??? I look awful!”
- “No way. I’m so fat … I really need to do something.”
- “I had to wear this old thing because none of my clothes fit.”
This is how we talk about ourselves. I’ve done it. I’m not proud of it, but it’s happened.
Why is it so hard for us to take a compliment? To accept praise? Why do we insist on putting ourselves down or deflecting?
Men don’t do this, so why do we?
2 Reasons Women Put Themselves Down
I think part of it is that women are taught to be humble, to be modest, and to not ever brag.
I don’t think of owning one’s happiness as bragging. It’s embracing who you are! It’s allowing yourself to be seen for your amazingness and not just your body.
We learn how to handle compliments from watching those before us … our mothers, our aunts, our grandmothers, our friends, etc. I can guarantee that the majority of them didn’t take compliments well, either. They probably blushed and said, “Oh, stop it. This old thing?”
Another way we crush our souls is to use self-deprecating humor to put others at ease.
This has got to stop right now!
I have never felt more gorgeous than the day I got married. And I was GORGEOUS! The entire evening, people were walking up to me telling me how happy they were for me, how beautiful the ceremony was, how amazing I looked, and that my dress was stunning.
My response, every single time, was – get ready to cringe –
“This dress was only $250! Can you believe it???”
Yeah, that was my response … so embarrassing!
Looking back, I wish I could have simply said, “Thank you. I’m so happy that you were able to celebrate with us. I appreciate your being here.”
But, alas, I did not.
Now, I have to live with those cringe-worthy encounters woven through the happiest day of my life.
Don’t get me wrong – my wedding was amazing, I looked incredible, and my dress was amazeballs! I only wish I could have taken the compliments and not deflected the attention that made me so uncomfortable.
Our bodies are listening to the criticism, the other women around us are listening to the criticism, and the next generation is listening to it, too.
Your Permission to Be Remarkable (and Take a Compliment!)
Do you want your daughters and nieces to grow up hating their bodies and chasing unrealistic body image goals?
Then let’s start to own our amazingness! People don’t say that you look good if you don’t. They’re not trying to fulfill a daily word quota; they’re not talking to hear themselves talk … they are giving you a compliment – TAKE IT!!!
So, we need to practice taking the compliment.
I’ll admit it was awkward when I became aware of my usual tear-down responses. To simply sit with my response of “Thank you” felt so uncomfortable, at first … but it gets easier.
Now, it’s hard for me to listen to women talk so negatively about themselves. It makes me bristle every time I hear them say something bad.
I actually told someone (who I love dearly) that if I heard her say one more negative thing about herself, I was going to put a dog collar on her and zap her every time she said something negative. I then proceeded to make a zapping noise every time she opened her mouth – Zzzt! Zzzt! Zzzzzzzt!
We had a good laugh about it, but I wanted to make her aware of the fact that she NEVER says anything nice about herself. It has to be exhausting! She’s incredible, and she doesn’t deserve the constant barrage of self-inflicted nasty comments.
We have to give ourselves permission to be remarkable!
This is your permission slip! Signed, sealed and delivered directly to you.
How We Talk About Other Women (and 3 Reasons Why We Do It)
We talk about other women’s bodies just as badly as we talk about our own. My personal opinion is that we do it to feel superior in that moment. We’ve found someone doing worse than we are, and we want to feel better about ourselves, so we judge them.
Here are actual comments I’ve heard women make about other women. Their words made me want to go into hiding—
- “We nicknamed her ‘Fat Back’ because – hee-hee – she has a fat back.”
- “Hey, fat ass.”
- “Wow, you’ve really put on some weight, huh?”
- “You’re getting fat as a pig.”
- “You have such a pretty face; too bad you can’t just lose some weight.”
These remarks are not only disgusting, but they are all meant to destroy a woman’s confidence.
I wish I had been stronger when I heard these comments so many years ago. I wished I had spoken up and said, “Hey! That was not okay, and you are incredibly rude!”
Those remarks stayed with me … deep in the background. And without knowing it, I was running from those comments as if they were directed at me.
Women live in fear of being talked about like this. We live in fear of someone saying these things about us – and certainly TO us.
Even women who are thin live in fear of becoming “fat” or being called “fat,” whatever their definition of fat is … sometimes it’s only a few pounds. Wielding the threat of “fat” is a very powerful weapon.
Remarks like those send a message that the women being talked about are not acceptable. It’s mean, and it’s unkind, but this is what women do to each other. Not all of us, but some of us, and some of this is coming from the culture we’ve grown up in.
We can’t support other women by talking about their bodies so negatively or being so hateful.
What does it get us?
Another reason people talk like this about women is to control them or to silence them. It’s happened to me recently…
I commented on a friend’s Facebook post, and one of her friends disagreed with me, and he made a derogatory comment about my body.
Years ago, I would have died from embarrassment and wanted to go into the Witness Protection Program. Not today! I was furious, and I fired back that he had no right to talk about me or my body.
Talking negatively about women’s bodies is a form of control. If we’re hyper-focused on what we look like, then we probably won’t be paying attention to a lot of other things.
The good news is that these types of comments only hurt if we believe them.
If someone said they hated your blue hair, but you didn’t have blue hair, you would think they were crazy. You’d roll your eyes and walk away. But when you believe what they’re saying is true – that you have gained weight for example – then that’s a punch to the gut.
If you don’t buy into someone else’s criticism, then it doesn’t hurt. It’s not easy to do, but it’s freedom.
Who Else Is Listening to What We’re Saying
Body hatred, feeling not good enough, and can’t take a compliment – they’re all handed down from generation to generation. They’re the worst inheritance ever! And yet we continue the cycle of insanity while the media magnifies our culture’s beliefs about beauty and thinness.
The next generation is listening: our daughters and our sons, our sisters and our brothers, our nieces and our nephews, and our cousins. Our friends, and even our own bodies, are listening. And these nasty, negative comments become their inner voice of Not Enough.
The next generation is listening to your criticism of yourself, your body, other people’s bodies, and your crazy diets, and all of it becomes their inner voice and their standard.
If you’re never happy with yourself, how can they be happy with themselves?? Their little eyes and ears are paying attention … always.
Are we teaching the next generation how to be healthy, happy, and proud of themselves? To own their accomplishments regardless of what they look like?
They are always listening and following our lead.
I hated my name when I was young. “Shawna” was too unique for me. I wanted to be a Tina or a Julie; I wanted to fit in. Uniqueness wasn’t something I embraced.
My middle name is Jane, and I liked it because it’s my name, and I didn’t have a reason to think otherwise.
But when I was a kid, my mother was always telling me how horrible my middle name was and that my dad forced her to give me that god-awful name.
If you hear enough times how much you should hate something, you begin to hate it. I started saying how much I hated “Jane” because I was told it sucked, and I thought my mom was right. After all, she’s my mom … she must know what she’s talking about.
The truth is that my dad wanted me to be named after a strong, feisty woman he fiercely loved. I couldn’t ask to be named after a better person – my aunt Janie.
I now LOVE being Shawna Jane! I love my uniqueness, and I love being named after someone so special.
Kids are always listening to what you say. They take it as the truth, and they don’t question it.
What You Can Do Now … and From Now On
With all of this, it’s not a shocker that 91% of women hate their bodies.
We are conditioned that if we aren’t thin, we are not good enough. We are told to “keep working … keep trying … maybe you’ll get there.”
But where is “there”? An eating disorder? An unhealthy obsession with food and exercise? All-time low self-esteem? Where is the finish line, and who puts the damned line in place?
Why can’t we just be happy with ourselves during the journey of life? This journey to figure out who we are, what we want, and what matters most to us? Why are we measured against ONE standard?
It’s partly because of the message we get around this time … at the start of a new year.
We are told that we’re not good enough unless we’re losing weight and trying to conform to a very specific definition of beauty – usually extremely thin, white, and blonde with perfectly tanned skin.
We’re told we should want to bleach away our freckles, zap away our curves, and hate ourselves until we meet the unrealistic airbrushed standard that’s set in boardrooms and by the marketing teams and graphic designers who create ads.
The assault on our bodies, confidence, and happiness is upon us. How will you survive without caving to the societal pressures to buy their shakes, their supplements, and their meal plans and gym memberships?
When we criticize ourselves, we are giving away our power. We are undermining our value and destroying our confidence.
Why do we have to change our bodies in order to be lovable or acceptable?
News flash: WE DON’T!
Each and every one of us is good enough just the way we are. Nothing needs to change … except the way we think about ourselves.
We are whole, and we are worthy – RIGHT NOW!
So, let’s stop hiding from our bodies, our mistakes, our failures, our imperfections.
Let’s embrace what makes us uniquely us and fly that flag proudly!
We were not born hating our bodies, we were taught to hate ourselves, and that means that we can learn to love ourselves … and our bodies.
Let’s stop the insanity right now!