Holding on to past mistakes makes you fat. Huh? I’m always looking for a new reason why I’m ‘fluffy’, so if you’re like me the opening of this podcast just made your day. Hang on, and grab your big girl panties, because I’m probably not headed where you think. I believe that anything that makes you feel shame, or lowers your self esteem makes you fat. How? Because it weighs you down. When you think heavy thoughts, your body responds by holding onto extra calories and you get fat. Sometimes our fat isn’t the fat we can see, the physical fat. Sometimes our fat is the more insidious fat that hides inside our minds. The mind fat can be worse than physical fat because that is harder to detect and get rid of. Now before you jump on me, I know losing physical fat isn’t easy, let’s take a deep breath.
Now, if I eat an entire pizza every night right before bed, there are going to be some pretty obvious physical responses to that behavior. Heartburn! Ok, yes, heartburn, but I also meant that I’ll probably gain weight. I haven’t given my body a chance to burn off any of those calories so guess where they go? Nope, not to my eyelashes, wouldn’t it be lovely if that was the destination? However, it’s more likely that those pepperoni calories will find their way to my booty. A similar process goes on if we eat a virtual regret sandwich slathered with spicy condemnation mayonnaise or self-loathing mustard right before bed. Or all day long. Or ever.
When you hold on to past mistakes what you are really doing is refusing to forgive yourself for being human. Furthermore, you’re punishing the woman you are today for a lesson you learned in the past. How does that taste? It tastes worse than the previously-described mayo and mustard. I know that sometimes it’s more difficult to let go of our past mistakes because we live with a bunch of elephants. You know, those people around you who have such excellent memories, they don’t have any trouble at all reminding you of all the mistakes you’ve made, no matter how long ago you made them and how much you’ve grown and punched those fears in the throat since then. You know, THOSE people. If that’s your situation, love yourself enough to say farewell to toxic people and find some new loving supporters. Before we leave them, forgive these people, for they know not what they do. They are so wrapped up in their own pain of for forgiving themselves, how can they possibly be good to you? Enough of them.
The most difficult person for us to forgive is usually ourselves. Regret, shame, and guilt prevent us from letting go of our past mistakes. Rather than reflecting on the experience and learning from it so that we can move forward, we tend to dwell on these unfortunate incidents. By refusing to forgive ourselves, we remain trapped in the past. If I choose to forgive myself I can be freed of the weight of these past mistakes. Depending on how many historical artifacts I am carrying around, this could equal 5-15 pounds. At least. Yippee! That’s an instant weight-loss program, I can really get behind.
I previously wrote about the 4 most important steps to forgiving yourself so I realize sometimes it’s easier said than done. But based on this new scientific data that being mean to yourself makes you fat, I think I need to re-visit the subject. So if you’ve decided to give yourself a break, how do you do that? Quite simply by accepting yourself and anything that you have done in the past that makes you feel ashamed today. You have learned from these lessons so you are free to release the weight, approach your future with clean hands, and decide to living differently from this moment forward.
Here are 3 simple (although, not easy) strategies:
3 Strategies to Stop Letting Past Mistakes Make You Fat
Be honest with yourself and others about your error and hold yourself accountable.
Oooh, child. Sometimes it feels nearly impossible to be honest with ourselves and hold ourselves accountable. But, we cannot fix what we will not face. Reflect on the mistake that you’re unable to get over today. Clearly identify what you really did or didn’t do, and own up to it instead of trying to justify your actions. Justifying bad behavior delays your peace.
- Being honest with yourself and owning your mistake is the first step to releasing the pain, guilt, and shame (and calories) that you’re carrying.
- Consider the events and circumstances that led to your mistake and be honest about how you felt then and how you’re feeling now.
- Ask yourself how your mistake may have impacted others.
- If you continue to struggle with facing this event, you may want to seek some outside help from a close friend, relative, counselor, or a religious leader that you trust. Sometimes our memory plays tricks on us and we imagine the impact of our mistake to be much larger than it actually is. Someone you like and trust will probably be much more forgiving and paint your mistake in a more favorable light.
If you can, try to remedy the situation and make amends.
This is not an opportunity to beat yourself up further! And it’s not an invitation to let others beat you up either. Treat yourself as well as you would treat a close friend. If you wouldn’t repeat your current thought to your best friend, don’t say it to yourself. With that frame of reference, consider what you could have done differently to prevent your misstep, and create a plan to act differently if you face a similar situation in the future. Doesn’t that feel better? You’re already feeling lighter, I can tell.
- Even if it has been a long time since the situation occurred, if the result of your mistake harmed others, consider offering an apology and asking for forgiveness. This action alone can be very healing for both you and the person that suffered as a result of your mistake.
- If you can’t make amends with those who were directly impacted, consider doing some other good deed or act of kindness to show yourself and others that you truly regret your actions.
- If your poor decision resulted in a monetary loss, try to make restitution.
- Share your story with others so that they might be able to avoid making the same error.
Remember that you’ve grown and you’re no longer the same woman that made the original mistake.
You have changed and overcome lots of challenges in your life, many of us have. The problem is we usually don’t stop to acknowledge this growth because we’re busy moving onto the next challenge or crisis. And sometimes our growth is incremental and we only want to recognize big, sweeping changes. I’m all for continued growth, but I want us to stop and celebrate smaller milestones. At least take a moment to acknowledge them so that you don’t miss all the good work you’re doing to become more and more powerful.
All of us make mistakes, and sometimes they come with serious consequences. Regardless of how serious our errors might have been, all of us deserve forgiveness. Holding on to past mistakes is preventing you from being all that you are right now. And it’s making you fat! Remember that old story about not being able to pick up dollars because you’re too focused on holding onto pennies? I think that applies here. You will notice as you practice letting go of your past mistakes, that the memory of them hurts less, you lose their weight and feel more confident about yourself and what you are capable of doing. You have to decide to leave the past where it belongs if you want to take advantage of your present and future. Open your hands and let the pennies drop so you can pick up the dollars.
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