Corinne said to me, "I'm disgusted with my life."
"Really?" I said. "Name a specific thing you're disgusted about."
"I'm so fat!"
"So rather than argue about whether you really are fat—which is debatable—let's just accept what you believe. Let's suppose that you ARE fat. Why would that be disgusting?"
"It just is."
"Almost nothing is uniformly disgusting just because it exists. Someone has to judge that it's disgusting and feel disgusted about it. In this case, I suggest that you've accepted the judgments and feelings of other people that being fat is disgusting."
"You tell me. Almost without exception, we accept the judgments taught to us earliest and most often. For example, what did your father say about people who were fat?"
"He said they lacked self-control. You could tell that he especially thought that fat women were ugly."
"And your mother?"
"She would tell me that I didn't need to eat this thing or that thing because it might make me fat. Her facial expression told the real story about what she thought about fat people. And there were many times she told me that I was prettier than my sister, who was heavier than I was. It was pretty clear that being thin was good while being fat was bad."
"So your parents did communicate—rather powerfully, actually—that being fat was disgusting. And you've heard that message from other people all your life. Nearly every magazine and movie openly or indirectly states that being thin is a desirable condition, which could only lead us to conclude that being fat is disgusting. Little wonder, then, that you believe it."
"I'd never seen it quite like that."
"By contrast, have you ever known someone who was unconditionally loving who expressed disgust at someone else being fat?"
"I only know a tiny handful of loving people, but no, I have not heard them express that message in any way."
"So, people use being thin as a false way of feeling worthwhile, and those same people make fun of heavier people as a way of confirming their own worth. Yes?"
"Certainly seems so."
"When people are not unconditionally loving—which is true of almost everyone—can they clearly see other people?"
"I'm not sure."
"No, they can't. When people are not truly loving, they can't see anything clearly. They see only what they want and what they're afraid of, so they can't see who they really are. They can't see other people either. They can't think or feel clearly. Their emptiness and fear make them blind and stupid. Not a criticism, just a description of how it is."
"And yet you walk around all day concerned about what these blind and stupid people think of you—in every way, your 'fatness' is just one example. I'm not telling you whether you should be thinner or heavier. In fact, I'm not telling you that you should be anything. But I am saying that believing the judgments of blind people isn't making you happy."
Most of us spend our entire lives trying to earn the conditional approval of people who can't see us and who will never truly love us. Seems like a waste. Seems like it might be worth reconsidering the way we see ourselves.
Recover from your negative habits and beliefs!
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