if your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.
– jack kornfield
in the last few months that i was in therapy, i told my therapist that i needed her to force me to talk about body image. if given the chance, i would spend an entire hour micro-dissecting my behaviors or something that happened that triggered a particular thought process. but i would never, ever talk about the way i actually felt about my body, how i saw myself.
because i was utterly horrified at the cruelty that would spew out of my mouth and out of my mind. i could never fathom speaking in such a way to another human being. but saying those terrible things to myself was reflexive, second nature. and i was so absolutely ashamed of the fact that i could be that heartless.
that was, in fact, my biggest secret. not the behaviors, but the thoughts. the fact that i was a hypocrite. that i was an RA and a peer tutor who would sit with residents and students for hours talking to them about staying true to themselves, being kind to themselves, being okay with their own beautiful unique qualities…yet i couldn’t get through a meal or a workout or a hunger signal without three dozen nasty mental comments on auto-respond.
self-love wasn’t even on the radar; i didn’t even have self-like. i was a bully, and most of the time i was just a straight-up bitch. i treated my body as an unruly foreign entity that i had to constantly battle and berate in hopes that it would finally submit and become what i wanted it to be.
which was what, again? who the hell knows.
in those last few months of therapy, i didn’t learn to love myself. there were no daily affirmations, or lists of things i appreciated or maybe even liked about my body. i just…tried to not be such a bitch. and once that became easier, i began to entertain the idea of actually being kind to myself. and with kindness came (slowly) compassion.
it’s not easy to be compassionate toward yourself when your default setting is somewhere along the self-hatred spectrum. but compassion is one of the most endearing qualities in a person. might as well try and make it complete.