I used to be a material girl.
I was obsessed with everything outside of myself. I allowed the external world to influence how I felt internally.
Every morning, I had a date with my scale. Every afternoon, I’d rendezvous with the latest issue of US Weekly and InStyle and in the evenings, I had an ongoing affair with my TiVo.
My morning weigh ins always set the tone for my day. The number on the scale determined my mood and validated my worth. The lower the number, the higher my self-esteem.
I poured over the weekly and monthly issues of fashion and gossip publications to ensure I stayed current and in fashion. Heaven forbid I wasn’t aware white was the new black or that Jessica Biel was now shopping at Trader Joe’s instead of Whole Foods.
At night, I made dinner and nested in my couch, the shallow plots of the comedies and dramas distracted me from my feelings of loneliness and insecurity. The drone of ditzy dialogue and corny jokes numbed me. Living in the make believe was easier than living in my own life.
I existed in a cesspool of comparison. I based my self worth on what everyone else deemed worthy. The pastimes I craved were pulling me so far away from my heart; I no longer knew who I was.
Then, my life shifted drastically as I saturated my days with my passions, writing and teaching yoga. They grabbed me by the hand, yanked me out of the pool and threw me inside, returning me home, to myself.
The number on the scale no longer had a hold over me. The magazines didn’t influence what I wore or didn’t wear. I no longer cared where Matthew McConaughey was doing his pull-ups. The TV programs bored and frustrated me. I had relied on the scale, the magazines and the television to fill me up and now they no longer controlled me.
Why? I wasn’t numb anymore and I no longer needed to compare myself with everything and everyone, because I was the keeper and protector of my worth.
So, I stopped completely. I stopped stepping on the scale and weighing myself. I stopped reading gossip and fashion magazines and I stopped watching television.
As soon as I started doing what I loved as my life’s work, I stopped living out there. The spell was broken when I fell in love with my life; when I fell in love with myself.
My body is healthier than it’s ever been, because I feel healthy in spirit. I focus more on whipping my flabby thoughts into shape than my thighs.
I decided the hard body I worked tediously to maintain was hardening my mind. I was inflexible in thought to the point of atrophy. I was as rigid in belief as I was in muscle. I was not soft and without softness, there was nowhere safe for my dreams to land.
When I let go of the number on the scale, my mind started to relax and my body began to open in ways I had never experienced. The way I feel determines the weight of my worth. The number of my weight has no significance any longer.
As I focused my energy on my work, I no longer had time to be in the know, because I was too busy getting to know myself.
As I changed, so did my style. I base my clothing choice for the day on my mood, not on the trend. My fashion choices became a form of self-expression and others took notice because I wore the clothes, the clothes didn’t wear me anymore. I became my own trendsetter.
The heart only knows how to whisper. Any external noise becomes a hindrance when I’m trying to listen to her. One day, the television became an unwelcome visitor, loud and obnoxious. I couldn’t hear myself, so I turned it off.
I craved the silence. I wasn’t afraid of it anymore, because I was strong enough to face my insecurities and release them. In order to heal them, I have to be able to hear them. I couldn’t do that when the Bachelor was making out with two contestants at the same time.
I was ignoring my own imagination. An imagination that has the ability to create plot lines, dialogues and characters, so I started writing my own stories.
This is my experience.
I am not insinuating that everyone should throw out their scale, cancel their subscriptions and sell their televisions on craigslist. Not at all. I wrote this to encourage others to reflect on their own habits.
Why do you do the things you do? Do you have control of your actions or do your actions control you?
If you have a favorite television show that puts a smile on your face, watch it. But, if you turn on the television because you can’t bear the sound of silence, or you read Vogue to make sure your hip bones protrude just like the model on the page, your actions control you. It might be time to reevaluate the magazine and television’s presence in your life.
Lately, I’ve been giving my iPhone too much attention, so for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been distancing myself from my pint-sized computer. As I have, I’ve noticed subtle changes in my awareness. I’m connecting in ways I haven’t in a while.
There’s a theory in life that’s been proven to be true — If you do less of something, you will instantly make room for something else.
Maybe you will try to make room also, by separating yourself from something that is consuming your life.
You may be pleasantly surprised to find that the space you create by letting go of it might open the door for something you’ve been waiting for, like discovering your passion or better yet, yourself.
By Rebecca Lammersen
First published on elephant journal