Ladies, pull out your leggings and start your engines. It is one of the BEST weeks of the year, in my humble opinion. Stacks upon stacks of our favorite foods are about to start piling up around your mom’s kitchen table, and from the second you leave work on Wednesday until Sunday afternoon when you roll off your couch to return to the real world— we are going hard on some cinnamony sweet potatoes and apple pie.
I recognize that while the thought of stuffing my face with family and friends is very exciting to me— it can also come with a lot of unforeseen baggage and stress for many of us! And believe me, I get it.
We may not have seen our family since last holiday season, and we are not only returning home to where we grew up, we sometimes are also returning to insecurities that we thought we outgrew long ago.
A lot of our baseline relationship with food comes from how we formed our beliefs throughout adolescence of what we could or couldn’t have. Those awkward, emotional, and heavily hormonal years have rooted deep within us certain beliefs that we might not even be aware of. Those unknown beliefs, paired with returning stressors we haven’t experienced since last year’s holidays, can sometimes lead to a bit of a mental health mess…
You know what I’m referring to. While we gather around reminiscing on the good old days, those good old disordered eating habits and beliefs can pop up as well.
Thanksgiving is all about food. Yes, its about thankfulness too, but girl you know its about yams just as much as it is about catching up with family! Having those toxic beliefs about your body and food creeping up around this time not only affects your meal— but your overall celebration and comfort.
How do we stop this form happening?
Well… Sometimes… You can’t.
Don’t get me wrong! There is a lot you can still do. But the most powerful thing is to not give this self-confidence-black-hole the attention it craves. Take time to yourself in the mornings going in to the holidays to check in and acknowledge any hard emotions or insecurities that could come up, process through them mentally or in a journal, then lay them to rest for the day. Sometimes you might need to repeat this throughout the day as well, if more emotion is triggered! Acknowledging and preparing for some of the thoughts that might come up strips them of their power in the moment.
Cut to 8pm, when you’re mid way through your second helping of mashed potatoes… and suddenly some sort of ‘guilt’ or shame sets in out of no where.
Don’t panic and try to immediately squash the feeling! Sequestering the insecurity only fans the flame. Instead, look at the comment or emotion that came up as objectively as possible and realize this is not actually a message for you. It is simply a message of insecurity that you used to cling to and a pattern triggered by memories of prior holidays in which these thoughts somehow served you. Acknowledging that this was a challenge from your past that, to some extent, taught you to overcome destructive thoughts and self confidence plunders, allows you to let the thought go rather than follow it back into the same patterns as years before.
Like instinctively driving to your childhood home, rather than the sleek new condo your parents downsized to, these thought patterns ingrained in you no longer serve you. It's time to reroute and rejoin the celebration.
It’s ok to look bad thoughts in the eye and tell them its time to leave. It’s also ok to see negative emotions start to creep up and take 30 seconds to feel them, then let them go. These thoughts have hurt you in the past, but they hold no power over this new person you have become. You do not need to be afraid of these thoughts or take them as messages for your current self— This is simply a challenge that you have already resolved.
Take a moment this Thanksgiving to look to your prior self with compassion, as she was once hurt so deeply by these thoughts. Acknowledge the strength it took for you to get past such damaging beliefs, and appreciate how far you have come from who you once were. Take negative triggers and change them to trigger gratefulness that you are no longer bound by these limiting beliefs!
When others inevitably make well intentioned comments that spark some sort of insecurity within you, take a moment to appreciate their journey, and know that it looks different from yours. Instead of taking their comments inwards to fuel patterns of self doubt, meet them with compassion. After all, you are not the only one in the room being met with old insecurities.
Be THANKFUL for who you are and where you have come from! Your story is an epic one, and this is not even close to its climax. You have the power and the opportunity this holiday season to forgive old insecurities, change thought patterns and cultivate acceptance for who you are in this moment!
You know I’m cheering for you!