There are 2 lies that you probably tell yourself – at least from time to time. Perhaps when you’re complying with the rules of diet culture you don’t actively accuse yourself of these. But my guess is that they’re lurking just under the surface, ready to pounce as soon as you ‘slip up.’
These 2 lies are particularly pernicious because they are seen as character ‘flaws’ on a par with lying and stealing. I put flaws in inverted commas because I don’t see these to be flaws. Flaws are things that make something less than perfect – and there is no such thing as a perfect human being. The notion of perfection for anything, I would say, is erroneous. Things and people simply are as they are. Who is the arbiter of perfection? Who gets to decide?
So what are these lies?
That you’re lazy and self-indulgent
When clients tell me they’re lazy and self-indulgent, I always ask them – what does that even mean?
What is laziness?
Stopping to do things?
Not being productive? (And by the way – what does productive mean? And why do we always have to be productive???)
Why are these seen as bad?
I think the world’s population would be a whole lot healthier and happier if people STOPPED so much DOING and simply allowed themselves to BE.
Why do we believe that resting should be limited? Why do we then label more than what is deemed an acceptable amount of not doing as laziness?
What if there is something else that is underneath the behaviour that we’re labelling laziness?
When our daughter who has special needs was in primary school, we had a parent-teacher evening. She already had a SEN (statement of special educational needs). Her teacher (actually, the deputy head) told me (in front of our daughter), that when she had someone with her (a teaching assistant), she was fine and could get on with the work, but when she was left alone, she was ‘lazy.’
I nearly blew my top.
Here was a child with recognised special educational needs, who needed someone there with her, who was then being judged as lazy when she didn’t have what she needed!
What the teacher was labelling as laziness was all sorts of other things! Difficulty knowing how to start a task/ lack of confidence/ not understanding the question/ gaps in knowledge or skill etc. (Don’t worry, I did tell her and I did make a complaint!).
When we judge ourselves, we can miss what is underneath the behaviour. We can miss what we are needing.
And maybe what we need is simply a break. Maybe even a long break. Isn’t that ok? If not, why not?
What we judge as laziness could really be any manner of things, like:
- ADD/ ADHD
- another learning difficulty
- or something else!
What about self-indulgence?
Again, what does this mean?
I consulted 2 dictionaries:
The Cambridge English online dictionary defines self-indulgence as: the act of allowing yourself to have or do anything that you enjoy.
Good heavens, really??? That sounds incredibly draconian! I felt a little less worried about the state of humanity when I read the definition in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, which defines it as: excessive or unrestrained gratification of one’s own appetites, desires, or whims.
Oh dear oh dear oh dear.
Why do we need to beat ourselves up for enjoying things? Whether that’s food or anything else?
Who is the arbiter of excess?
What does ‘unrestrained gratification’ mean?
Sometimes what might look to one person as excess, is actually another person’s recovery from an eating disorder or disordered eating! Yes! Eating all the things you’ve either physically or mentally deprived yourself of might look to someone else like self-indulgence – but it could actually be a sign of healing!
It serves those who profit from diet culture, if you believe these lies about yourself!
The more your hate yourself, the more you’ll try to fix yourself and the more vulnerable you’ll be to the snake oil of diet culture.
You are enough.
You’re allowed to eat food in whatever quantity and enjoy it. It’s your birth right.
You’re allowed to not do anything. In fact, if more of us did less, we’d all be happier for it. You do not exist to be productive. You do not need to justify not doing.
You’re also allowed to not exercise as much as you’ve been told you should. Maybe you need something else instead.
Basically, what I’m saying is that judging yourself isn’t going to lead anywhere good. It won’t lead to peace with yourself, food, or your body. Instead, try being kind to yourself. Be gentle. Lean in. See if you can listen to what you’re needing right now. Listen to those gentle whispers, leading you into yourself. What are they telling you?
Need help making peace with food?
If you’ve had enough of being on and off a diet, feeling ashamed of your body and how you eat, binge eating or emotional overeating — you’ve come to the right place.