“I’m too fat.”
“My biceps aren’t big enough!”
“I need to drop a pants size.”
Chronic dieters and body-checkers, as well as fitness addicts whose drive to obtain the perfect body is often questionable—what’s the real motive?—can probably relate to some of those phrases. Sure, gay men may not be the only souls who think such thoughts, but let’s face it, the pressure to look a certain way; to create the body beautiful, is overtly prevalent in gay culture.
For self-checkers, no part of the body is left un-examined. So determined are we to be something other than we are—at the present moment—that we tend to engage in a sort of guerilla warfare, stopping at nothing until we reach our perceived ideal weight, size, fit. You name it.
We may be men, but sometimes we act like babies, violently shaking the rattle of our psyches in our futile quests to obtain the “perfect” bod. Ultimately, we morph into ruthless people, lost in a trance. We don’t realize our true worth. We forget who we really are. We can’t be happy unless we …
As in his. Somebody other than you.
But we don’t have to forget who we are. We don’t have to stop appreciating ourselves or our body—whatever size it is.
What would happen if we spent an entire day practicing the art of just listening to what we’re saying to ourselves? As in, consciously taking a mental step back and just noticing our thoughts?
Imagine that. Try it right now. Listen to yourself. What are you telling yourself … about you?
Henry David Thoreau once said: “Thought is the sculptor who can create the person you want to be.”
I like this one by Deepak Chopra: “In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.”
For professional mood swingers out there—I’ve been known to make a career out of that, too, you’re not alone—that last quote may provoke a chuckle. Keep stillness inside of you? How the heck …?
Just listen—to you.
That’s the first step. You don’t need to do anything more. You don’t even need to judge what you are thinking. (Although, most of us will be tempted.) But if you can just practice listening, serenity is not that far behind. Because the more you listen to yourself from a detached point of view, you eventually come to realize that the severe critical thinking you may be engaging in, cannot possibly be a reflection of the real you.
Ultimately, we must come to realize that any equation where the sum equals “I’m Not Good Enough” simply cannot be true. How can it? Still, it takes time to integrate this. It takes practice.
But we’re strong. Stronger than we realize. If we could survive our childhood, dates gone wrong, horrible breakups, bad hair days … surely, we can survive our unmanaged thoughts. But first we have to pay attention to them. (If we’re willing to work our bodies like banshees for that ideal “look,” then surely, we have the willpower to notice our thoughts.)
I’m willing to shut up and give it a try. How about you?