I came across a post the other day where a woman’s photo that was used to illustrate the effects of anorexia was misused in a “listicle” for photos of successful weight loss. There was a lot of commentary about how people who suffer from emotional dysregulation (e.g. depression, anxiety, anorexia, bulimia, etc) are often “celebrated” for their good looks. They would often get comments such as, “Did you lose weight? You look great!” In reality, their weight loss was very unhealthy, yet still rewarded and showered with compliments on their “good looks.”
That got me to thinking about how one could approach another who has had a change in weight. Can you come from a place of concern? “I noticed you’ve lost/gained some weight recently, is everything okay?” Or can there be a neutral ground? “I’ve noticed you’ve lost/gained some weight recently, has something changed for you?” Or is there another way?
It’s definitely got me to reevaluate how I view others’ weight loss/gain. I can’t assume that others’ weight changes are done in a healthy manner. In order for me to stop rewarding or complimenting bad behaviors, I must reframe my commentary and/or not comment at all.
But for now, here are some examples of things I will not say:
“You’ve lost a lot of weight. You look great!”
“Please tell me how to fit into your pants!”
“You look so skinny!”
“Your face looks skinnier!”
Sometimes, I think this is what most people need. It’s not about whether or not someone understands the problem you’re dealing with, but that someone can take the time to understand. But sometimes, best of all, it’s nice to know that you’re not the only one.
My first year in grad school I was afraid and anxious. I kept wondering if I was qualified to be there and if I was capable enough to survive grad school. Yes, I know that there are other people who do well and are able to do it, but I didn’t feel like I was excellent enough a student to be there. So when I found out that some of my other classmates felt like I did, felt overwhelmed, scared, and afraid, I felt so much better knowing that I wasn’t the only one who had this feeling of self-doubt.
Even if you can’t personally relate, validating someone’s feelings can just mean so much more to them. I know it does for me.
Back to the work!
Four more weeks!
I suffer from anxiety. I thought it was only limited to schoolwork and things like research papers, but as I think more about it now, I really do have a lot of anxiety. I was thinking about what I would do after graduation. I’d have to go on a job hunt. How adventurous do I want to be? Do I only want to build skills in family and children services? Do I want to work with other populations like adults? A part of me said no, I don’t want to branch out. The other part says I should because it’s helpful and it will make me well-rounded. I then went back to think about why I was afraid to branch out.
And it comes down to anxiety. I am afraid. I am afraid of not doing the right things all the time, especially when it comes to working with the clients. I am afraid that I won’t be good enough and won’t have the skills to apply for positions with other populations, that no one will want to train me and will expect me to know it all.
My first few weeks of internship were so nerve-wracking for me. I was very anxious, very scared, very doubtful of my abilities. While I am a firm believer that everyone needs feedback on their performance on ways to improve, at the same time, I feel as if I need feedback as validation of the things I can do well.
I am an anxious person. I take twenty steps and can’t remember if I locked the car. Sometimes, I’ll run back. I hate driving next to cars on the road, or driving up behind someone while in their blind spot because I’m afraid they won’t see me and try to merge. I have difficulty initiating hangouts with people for fear that they won’t find me interesting enough to keep around or spend time with. I have difficulty going to large parties without someone I know for fear of being too afraid to meet new people and not look awkward being alone. I am afraid all the time and I judge myself all the time.
I used to think I was just a person of habit and that I liked to stay in my comfort zone because it was comforting. I’m now starting to think that I stay in the box because I’m so afraid of how I’ll measure up once I leave it and I don’t think I can do it alone, at least not now anyway. Maybe someday.