Here at The Main Meal Weight Management Support we talk a lot about acceptance and non-judgment. So, it may seem counter-intuitive to have a discussion about who to cut out of our lives. However, just as we untangle our self-esteem from our body image, we find the need to untangle ourselves from people who don’t value us or enhance our joy. We can accept another person for who they are, just as they are, without maintaining close contact with them. We don’t judge them as ‘wrong.’ It’s more a matter of honoring ourselves, our boundaries, and our mental and emotional wellbeing.
So, we find ourselves making choices about who to cut out of our lives. Some of those choices might be easy and others more difficult. Some of us might have to cut off contact, or greatly reduced contact, with members of our birth families. Some of us discontinue friendships with people who are toxic for us. We may care a great deal about these people, even love them deeply, but it doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice ourselves to keep in close contact with them. Have you dropped anyone from your guest list? Are you at peace with your decision?
On the flip side of that, as we mature and as we learn to honor ourselves, we surround ourselves with people who love us and affirm us in every positive way. We build up a ‘guest list’ consisting of people who see us for who we are and not for how we look. We consciously choose to make deeper connections with people whose lives and whose energy align with ours. We find joy in the mutual exchange of joy and optimism. Can you see that you’ve done that for yourself? Did you realize that was what you were doing? Do you recognize how good it feels to have these people in your life as the majority instead of the few and far between?
The people we invite to our table only make up half the guest list. What about the guest list inside our heads? Or as I like to call it, the ghost list? Whose voice has a seat at our internal table? Whose voice do we allow to talk trash to us? For years, the ghost of my third grade teacher had a seat at my table telling me, in front of the whole class, that I talk too much. The voices of my classmates who teased me when I started gaining weight had a seat front and center. My parents’ voices still sit at the table, although less frequently now, speaking in softer tones. It takes practice to stand in our own truth, to silence the voices from the past, to deny them a seat at the Main Meal of our lives. But it’s so worth the effort.
And how about our own voice? Have we cleaned up our own language? Do we still tell ourselves we’d be beautiful if only…? We could lose weight if we weren’t so…? We would be happy if only….? Have we taken on the sayings of parents, teachers, friends, our younger selves and made them our own? The work we do here, the hardest work, the most rewarding work, the only work that can truly change our lives is the work of making up the guest list inside our heads. One of my clients says she needs to hear those negative voices now and then to keep her on track. Hearing the old negative thought once in a while reminds her of the path she wants to be on and where she needs to be. What a great moment of awareness that is! To hear the thought but not believe it any more. We let it motivate us to stay on the path of reinforcing the thoughts that affirm us, that accept us just the way we are, that encourage us, that cheer us on, and that love us without condition and without judgment.
Because these guests aren’t visible, because they don’t speak out loud, they are the hardest guests to separate ourselves from. They are the ghosts we have the hardest time releasing and moving on from. The best way to let go of these unwanted guests is to build up a new set of friends. The more we invite self-affirming thoughts, the more we surround ourselves with words of self-acceptance, the more we will have the internal guest list that mirrors the external guest list we’ve chosen.
So, how do we do that? It sounds like a good idea, but how do we replace the thoughts we’ve had all our lives? Think about a friend or family member who you are completely comfortable with. You don’t feel they judge you on any level. This person accepts you just as you are and loves you no matter how you look or what you believe. Relax into that feeling. Notice everything about who you are in the presence of this person. Notice how your body reacts, and how your mind reacts to this place of total acceptance. Now, imagine giving yourself this gift of acceptance. Imagine relaxing into this peace and safety anytime you want. Imagine the joy of becoming this friend to yourself who loves you without condition. Spend some time every day, if only a few minutes, becoming your own best friend, loving yourself unconditionally. It might feel uncomfortable at first, but with time, it becomes natural. It becomes who you are.
It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve started doing this and then reverted back to old thinking. It doesn’t matter how hard it is to let go of thoughts we’ve had for most or all of our lives. Little by little, one repetition by one repetition, we can change. We can learn to love ourselves. We can learn to love our appearance. We can learn to relax into self-acceptance.
This Main Meal, this life we are living, is our banquet. We get to make up the guest list. We have no obligation to invite anyone we don’t want to invite. We can invite anyone we want.