Goodness: Can it Cut the Connection Between Body Size and Self-Worth?
Do you believe in your own goodness?
Do you think that you are inherently good?
What does being a "good" person mean to you*?
These are some of the questions that came up for me after a transformative yoga class this week. . .
The teacher asked us to find one thing that we LOVE about ourselves.
Without giving it much thought, I told myself that, "I love your goodness."
My goodness has never before come up to be a thing I love about myself. But it came as a welcome change for me and sparked an amazing transformation that stayed with me all week.
What Does Being A "Good" Person Even Mean?
How would you define a good person?
The definition of a “good person” is very subjective; this definition varies depending on who you ask.
When I asked myself that question I came up with a long list (big surprise). Here is what I came up with....
A “good person” is someone who:
- Is politically correct all the time
- Does not judge others
- Donates blood
- Donates their money
- Plants a tree every Arbor Day
I would love to meet the person who can check all of those boxes.
Although there are probably only a few people who could meet MY definition, I do believe that there are more than a few "good" people in the world.
Goodness in Our Society
As a society, we don’t automatically use goodness as a descriptor for someone's character or think of goodness as an important characteristic. Simply put, it is not something that is in the forefront of our minds. Most of us don’t walk out our front door in the morning asking ourselves, “How can I be good today?”
As a society, as a culture, what we strive for is success.
What Success Means in Our Society
In our culture, success means different things depending on demographics and background. Generally, having a lot of money equates to success. Americans, especially men who have a lot of money, are seen as powerful and are admired by others.
For American women being thin often equates to success.
These ideals are taught to American children. Whether it be through their parents or elsewhere the cycle continues. With this ingrained belief of success, through money and thinness, we don’t even realize there could be a different way.
At the end of the day, after working your butt off in pursuit of success, where does that leave you anyway?
My Success = My Self-Worth
My success is directly associated with my self-worth.
This causal relationship has gotten me into trouble in the past, especially when my success has an inverse relationship to the size of my body.
Decrease Body Size=Increase Success
Ultimately for me this means that my self-worth equates to my body size, body image, thinness, or fatness.
If you didn’t follow that, here is the equation:
If success = self-worth, and if thinness=success, then self-worth=thinness
This idea has been coined as "The Body Myth" by Margo Maine and Joe Kelly. The official definition is: “our self-worth (and our worth to others) is (and ought to be) based on how we look, what we weigh, and what we eat.”
I believe that our culture’s expectation of women leads many others to believe that same equation. I have been in denial that this equation exists for me, but I now am acutely aware of it.
Awareness is the first step.
How Do We Change the Equation?
If we take success out of the equation and simply look at self-worth, we can more easily unpack the relationship between self-worth and thinness.
To help illustrate the relationship, I imagine “self-worth” in a cute little animated cloud and in an equally cute animated boulder is "thinness". There is a rope connecting the self-worth cloud to the thinness boulder.
My goal is to cut that damn rope.
I want to release my self-worth and yours from that thinness/body image/fatness boulder.
Cutting a rope can be hard. It has a lot of fibers that need to be cut individually. Depending on the work you have done in the past and your experience with negative body image, the rope anchoring your self-worth to thinness might be thicker than others, or it might be thinner (absolutely no pun intended!).
Once I started to understand the relationship between my self-worth and my body’s thinness, I wanted to know what tools I could use to start the process of cutting the rope.
How Do We Cut the Rope?
This is where goodness comes in.
When I focus on my goodness, in the form of self-admiration, I can mentally cut a few rope fibers. By focusing in on my goodness (how I can be good to myself and others), I am able to slowly shift my thoughts.
Previously, I would question my goodness. Remember all of those boxes you have to check in order to be a good person by my definition?
Yeah, I can't fill any of them.
I have since come to a deep realization through my yoga class that most everybody is inherently good, including me. That thought has inspired me this entire week.
If I can start the practice of asking myself how I can unleash my goodness, I can show myself how good I really am.*
Questions To Ask Yourself
When we can solve the equation for thinness not being equal to self-worth, then thinness not being equal to success is already taken care of because we have changed our thoughts around the root of the problem, the drive to be thin.
My hope is that this post will help you consider your own goodness. Bring your concept of "being good" out of the context of diet and weight loss. Let your goodness shine. If you take away the preconceived notations of "being good" and just let your intuition guide your goodness it is quite easy to see your goodness shine. You might just be inspired to allow more of your goodness out. . .
You might just be surprise at how good you truly are.
Much Love and Goodness,
*Friends, I realize that the terminology of “being good” can be associated with dieting. I cannot tell you how many times that I have wanted to “be good” today with my eating. This is ABSOLUTELY not my definition of “being good” here or anywhere on my website, nor will it ever be.