Beliefnet
The Celebrity Therapist

It’s no secret that our society has a little, shall we say, hang-up on body image. While women are the primary targets, let’s not forget our testosterone-laden brethren, who are not exempt from “good-natured” ribbing from pals, or offhand comments from wives or girlfriends.

While many may see this constant criticism as normal, the fact is, the dark side of eating disorders is very real and even life-threatening. For those suffering with anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorders, professional help is available and necessary, says Meredith Watkins from Recovery View.com.

And for the rest of us, here’s a little reality check, some perspective from Carl Jung: “We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.” Consider this the next time you cast a critical glare at that part of your body that apparently did not get the memo that it was supposed to remain unchanged from its 18-year-old counterpart.

End the dictatorship that has oppressed your unsuspecting thighs, stomach or backside. Paradoxically, doing so does not relinquish you to the slovenly mound of mush you so fear — My book, The Law of Sobriey says this  frees up the energy you have spent in frustration and self-loathing to be used productively, in such ground-breaking endeavors as taking a deep breath and smiling. Filling your lungs with ocean air or rejoicing that your legs are capable of taking you down a sun-dappled path.

Like any shift of perspective, this takes time. But the only way to begin the shift is to try a little bit every day — some kindness turned inward, like soothing an injured child. Perhaps this is exactly what our abused bodies have always needed: praise for what it does right, rather than punishment for not living up to our unrealistic expectations.

Anne Lamott, in her book, Grace (Eventually) sums it up perfectly: “To step into beauty, does one have to give up on losing a little weight? No, of course not. Only if you’re sick of suffering. Because if you cannot see that you’re okay now, you won’t be able to see it if you lose twenty pounds. It’s an inside job.”

Negative thinking is addictive. Once you start to believe the negative things you tell yourself, it’s as if you’re caught up in a powerful whirlpool and you can’t break free. “I won’t get a better job.” “I can’t make new friends.” “I can’t learn a new skill.” “Good things never happen to me.” When you believe this, you’re defeated before you ever start anything. And of course, then you never start anything anyway–why bother, because you’ll just be defeated?

            Negative thinking can be comforting in a strange way, too. That’s because it enables you to avoid taking any responsibility for your life. If you’re the person bad things always happen to, you don’t have to even try to make good things happen. You’re off the hook.

            The Law of Sobriety says whatever you resonate, the universe sends back to you. In other words, your thoughts become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Radiate negativity and nothing good will come to you. Your own negativity brings you exactly what you don’t want.

            Fortunately, the opposite is also true. When you believe good things will come to you, that’s what will happen. It will happen because positive energy attracts positive results. But it will also happen because you’ll stop asking the world, “When am I going to get mine?” and start looking around at what you’ve already got. Appreciating what you have changes everything–not just your outlook, but your reality. Your world is richer and more satisfying. That happens right away, as soon as you break out of the negativity addiction.

            Take a moment to stop and do a little inventory. What did you see and hear and smell today that makes you happy? Was it a kid walking her dog? Was it a snippet of a song you like? Was it the smell of fresh-roasted coffee? Appreciate the little things and the big things will come.

        Since my book came out, I have had all sorts of revelations.  I have learned that there are those who truly support my endeavors and unfortunately, those who appear to make it a point  to tarnish my characcter perhaps due to their own shortcomings.  I had some people on Facebook call me a “fraud.”  Others have gotten nasty if I don’t answer their friendship on facebook, and some who I thought were my friends, erase themselves from my facebook and email contact list all together which has been hurtful. 

         However, on the other end of the scale, I have made so many new friends as I have evolved into an author.  I have been blown away  by all the wonderful support I have received and especially at my book signings.  I am in such gratitude for the many new and old  friends alike who  have been  sending their positive energy my way and for my book. 

        All os this reminds me of how when we get clean and sober sometimes we have to walk away from good friends or toxic relationships. But it’s even harder to keep hanging around with them when you’re trying to change your life. This is just as true for you in sobriety. Old friends who still drink or use are triggers for your old behaviors. Their social activities revolve around drinking and drugs. You’re not being fair to yourself exposing yourself to temptation when you’re with them. When you spend time with your old friends, you’re setting yourself up for relapse.

            You need to make new, sober friends who reflect your new values. You’ll be able to relax and be yourself around friends who share your values–rather than having to constantly say no and explain your sobriety to people who always knew you as an addict.

              The same goes with my new career; it is much easier for me to surround myself by the people who believe in me and my message and to ignore those who may be envious of my success or who feel the need to put down my message.  Although I don’t expect everyone to be happy for me or support my book, I refuse to allow myself to be brought down by those who set me up for pain, just like I have had to stay away from those people in my life who are still entrenched in their disease who are filled with negative energy.  As my book, The Law of Sobriety suggests, when we put out into the universe positive energy, that is what we will attract back into our lives; and that is exactly where I wish to live.

A friend of mine recently moved to a new apartment. I don’t know if you’re like me, but the very thought of moving makes me start shaking. It’s the idea of packing up all my stuff that gives me so much anxiety. Over the years, we accumulate so much, and moving means we need to sort through it all, get rid of a lot, and pack up the rest. Whenever I think about it, the task seems monumental.

            My friend didn’t particularly enjoy the packing up either. But she told me she loved the unpacking. In her new place, all the closets and cabinets and drawers were empty, and as she unpacked each box, she decided how things would be arranged in her apartment and exactly the best spot for each item. It’s the only time our closets and cabinets are so well-organized.

            This got me to thinking about clutter. Clutter– physical, mental, and emotional–is one of the things than can block us from achieving our goals. We let things accumulate without sorting through them, and without either getting rid of them or putting them in their place. Clutter of all types is negative energy, and when it fills our lives, it crowds out the positive energy.

            I’ve talked a lot in this blog about mental and emotional clutter, but clearing out the physical clutter is every bit as important. Objects can have powerful associations for us, and holding on to an object can be a symbol of holding on to a counterproductive belief or a behavior. Do you still have that cocktail shaker, that ashtray, that sweater your mother gave you that you always hated, that photo of you with the boyfriend who never treated you well?

            Throw that stuff away–and throw away all the negative energy that goes with it. Imagine your life as cleaned out as my friend’s closets in her new apartment, stripped of what you don’t need all ready for you to decide exactly the right spot for everything.