Are Not

I recently saw a meme posted by one of my Facebook (FB) friends that really struck a chord within me:

fingernails

Being a writer, I don’t know why I never picked up on the difference before, but the phrase TOTALLY changes based on the verb used.  It’s much harder to separate oneself from a label when they say that they “are” said label, as opposed to saying that you have something.

And calling yourself something like “fat,” or “stupid,” becomes a vicious cycle, because you eventually start to believe it.  Then, when you lump in all the negative comments around those kinds of labels, it just builds and builds, until you begin to feel that you’ll never be able to get away from said label.

It’s one of the reasons I learned not to say “I’m so stupid,” when I made a mistake on something.  It took me a while–and LOTS of practice–but I learned that making a mistake isn’t a bad thing, especially when it may have been caused by my not knowing something.

We already know those kinds of labels are damaging when one child says them to another, and thankfully, there are lots of anti-bullying campaigns going on right now.  However, I think we as a society also need to address the bullying that we each do to ourselves.

Bully

Saying “I’m fat” or “I’m stupid” are exactly the kind of bullying tactics that we use on ourselves when we fail to separate our person from the label.

Much like those books that we can’t properly judge by simply looking at the cover, labels don’t truly represent us.  To go by labels, I’m a White, Married, Female, who Doesn’t Have a College Degree, sees a Therapist weekly, and has Extra Weight on her body.  However, NONE of those labels can explain to any degree the beauty or depth of my soul, or my life.  Those labels can describe me, but they don’t define me.

But unfortunately, I had never made that distinction when it came to my excess weight.  I’d see myself in the mirror and think “I’m fat.”  And I can tell you, it’s not a good thing to think about yourself.  I truly did feel like it was something I was burdened with, simply because I “was” it.

So now that I’ve been introduced to the difference that switching out one verb for another can make, I expect I will see some changes in how I talk to myself about this extra weight I’m carrying on my body.  I’ve already begun extending the above phrase to say:

“I am not fat.  I have fat.  And I can get rid of fat.”

It really does feel like a freeing thing to say it in this fashion.  I can now look upon the fat/weight as something that I can discard.  And I know that I want to discard it.  I’m certain that it’s done me some good in the past–whether as a physical cushion between myself and those who may have hurt me, or who I imagined might hurt me–but I’m really feeling ready to let it go.  I think it’s worn out its usefulness.

So I encourage the rest of you to make similar changes in how you talk to yourself.  The next time you hear your inner bully call you bad things, I invite you to stand up to it and say “I AM NOT!”  Because you are NOT fat, stupid, ugly, lazy, or whatever other mean thing(s) you say to yourself.  Even if you HAVE one of those characteristics, you can always change it, when it no longer suits you.

Just remember, none of those characteristics define you. You are a wonderfully complex human being, with SO much more to you than the labels that have been used to describe you in the past.

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