Last week I got a jump start on resolutions by talking about what change you might be hungry for, and what that would mean in your life.
Now I want to look at the opposite, of why you might not make that change. Specifically, what’s the status quo doing for you?
Because staying where you’re at isn’t always about lack of motivation. It might be that you’re getting some benefit from the current situation that you haven’t really focused on, and changing that can be scary.
Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash
And since a common resolution for people is to lose weight, I’m going to use that as my example.
With that in mind, the question would be, what is weight doing for you?
1. Buffers rejection
If you struggle with self-esteem and body image issues, you may have felt rejected because of your appearance. You might have even been specifically told that no one would want to be with you because of your size. Or maybe you’ve told yourself that.
I’ve had those thoughts and experiences myself. But I didn’t realize until I started losing weight that I was actually using my weight as a way to filter people.
Basically, if someone rejected me, I could put it on them. They were a bad person for judging me by my weight and weren’t worthy of my time anyway.
But what would it mean if I lost weight and someone still rejected me?
It would mean they rejected me, not my weight.
The thought scared me, but once I recognized it, I was able to move past it. Especially after reminding myself that I was a good person, no matter how much or how little I weighed.
2. Distracts from real issues
It’s very, very easy to get caught up in the focus on weight. You may hate being obsessed with food choices and numbers on a scale, but on the flip side, it feels like something you can control.
And if other areas of your life are out of control, and painful, you may not want to give up that focus. Because when you do, those others issues could come up more strongly, and you might feel even more out of control.
This is perfectly understandable. It’s hard, and it can be agonizing, to look at what’s really going on. To address it head-on.
But the pain doesn’t go away simply because you’re ignoring it in favor of focusing on something else. And truly acknowledging the issue and bringing it into the open makes it much less scary and more manageable.
3. Provides protection
I talked with someone recently who said that when she thought of being thin, she didn’t feel safe. And I don’t think she’s alone.
From a physical perspective, having an extra layer or two (or more) of fat can feel protective, especially if you used to be food-insecure. It’s reassuring to know that you have enough now and even have some reserves. You’re not living on the edge.
Having a little extra weight can also help if you get sick and can’t eat much. So if you saw a loved one waste away due to illness, you’d want that layer.
And then there’s the attraction aspect. If you’re thin, you might get more sexual attention than you’re familiar or comfortable with. It could feel safer keeping things as they are.
4. Gives you an excuse not to succeed
You might be familiar with this quote from Marianne Williamson: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. It is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
I think this has a lot of truth to it. And this is another fear you can avoid by focusing on weight.
To be clear, though, weight doesn’t keep you from becoming your most powerful. But using so much energy and time on trying to lose weight will hold you back from accomplishing other things that you might want to do.
I don’t say this to make anyone feel guilty. I’ve certainly had my own moments where I’m afraid of how much I might do, what powers I might have, and what that might make me responsible for. (I keep thinking of Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, and how great power brings great responsibility.)
But if you can recognize this, you may decide you want to change things and turn your energy to something else.
5. Lets you fit in
And then there’s the simple fact that trying to lose weight just seems expected of us, especially as women (but also increasingly for men). Or if we’re already thin, we should be making sure we stay that way.
Accepting yourself as you are, and not trying to lose or maintain your weight, may help you in many ways. But it probably won’t help you fit in with your family, friends, or colleagues.
So oddly enough, you may actually end up a bit on the outside if you stop obsessing about weight. And that, too, can be scary.
Acknowledge and decide
These may not describe your situation, but I hope it gives you a different way to think about what might be holding you back. Because as with mindful eating, the real key is to first acknowledge what might be keeping you in place, and then make the conscious decision about how to proceed.
And to recognize that it’s not about right and wrong choices, simply about being aware of them.