The leg thing really brought up some feelings for me. I hated my legs and was deeply ashamed of them for most of my life. I told myself that I would finally be happy, confident, and at peace with them when: I found the perfect leg workout, lost weight, made them smaller, eliminated the jiggle, increased muscle definition, banished cellulite, removed the red spider veins and blue varicose veins, got rid of my extensive stretch marks, camouflaged some big scars, and got the perfect tan. That’s all. If I could just change those twelve simple things, my legs would be acceptable and I would finally be happy. Ha!!!! I obsessed for years and accomplished basically none of it. Still, a kind of miracle occurred. I found leg peace when I quit thinking about them. The appearance of my legs is not a thing. It’s not that I cultivated some kind of love for them, or gratitude, or acceptance, or profound wisdom. I turned my attention other things, which then caused me to forget about trying to fix my legs, or cover them up, or justify their appearance. I just go about my day with legs being a non thing. I think that’s probably true for everything about my physical appearance that used to cause me so much anxiety. It’s not that I’ve given up or don’t care. I actively pursue health, fitness, and self-care. I just don’t engage in comparison games or entertain that “not ok / must fix” thought process.
It was my thoughts. Again. When you’re engaged in a shame loop, there’s no solving it physically. No matter how lean / strong / fit / disciplined I became, I couldn’t see it. I only saw what was still wrong, or what else I needed to change in order to be ok. Nothing was ever good enough. That pattern of insecurity and judgment gets locked in thanks to years of automatic, unquestioned repetition. Everything changed once I began to hit my painful stories with: “Is that true? Can I absolutely know that it’s true? How do I feel or what happens when I believe that thought? Who would I be without that thought? Could the opposite also be true?” And it’s not like you need to go through the questioning process with every thought about every perceived flaw. You unravel a couple and your whole storyline about this “problem” and its consequences comes apart. You realize that being paralyzed with fear and self-loathing over what you think other people think of your appearance is a boneheaded way to go through the day. Without those thoughts, you’re free.