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Fat. Ugly. Boring. Stupid. Crazy. Lazy. Selfish. Liar.
Do these words feel shocking?? Would you ever call someone else a fat ugly boring stupid crazy lazy selfish liar? Probably not. (I hope not!!)
When I taught Affirmations for Assholes in January, everyone wrote down the adjectives they use to beat themselves up.
What do you say to yourself when you feel bad about yourself? What are the words you use to judge yourself?
Then we shared them together so we're able to get those words off the page and out of our brains and out into the open.
That list up there is the words that more than half of the participants wrote down.
UGH. I hate that list. I hate that we feel this way about ourselves.
But there is power in sharing how we feel.
Part of the power of coming together with other people in community (side note: I know that community can feel like such an overused buzzword that it’s almost devoid of meaning), when we are in intentional space with other people, we’re given a lens into the systemic and structural issues that are playing out inside our brains.
When you are alone, it often feels like the issues and problems that are coming up for you are because of your own personal failure, your individual defects, your deficiencies.
But when you’re in a room with other people, you start to see that everyone is experiencing some semblance of the same types of failures, the same types of struggles, the same types of roadblocks. Everyone calls themself the same names as you.
Everyone else thinks they’re ugly and boring and lazy too.
Once you notice the similarities, you’re left with two choices: either everybody in this room just happens to be a bunch of hideous, uninteresting, unaccomplished human beings OR there is something systemic going on that encourages us to feel that way about ourselves.
It’s not hard to see how these adjectives are very directly tied to systemic oppression.
Capitalist and puritanical ideals about work and productivity inform our sense of ourselves as lazy. Patriarchal and racist standards of beauty are thrown at us daily from all forms of media, confirming our suspicions that we’re aesthetically subpar.
(Side note: I don’t ascribe to the idea that fat is an insult! People certainly use it that way, but fat is simply a descriptor that could be neutral if we lived in a different culture that didn’t have such rigid rules about what bodies are acceptable and what bodies are to be shamed and disciplined. Read Dr. Roxane Gay for more on this! )
(Also also, crazy is a word that upholds ableist and neurotypical ideals about mental health. It's messed up that we use this pejoratively!)
So when we come together, we can start to untangle the ways that our own inner voices are hijacked by the narratives of the dominant culture. When we can see the outer influence, we can start to hear our own inner kindness a little more clearly.
“Remember: Oppression thrives off isolation. Connection is the only thing that can save us.” -Yolo Akili
P.S. Registration closes for Affirmations for Assholes tomorrow! This course is offered online, so it's available from everywhere. In one month, you'll excavate and rewrite the terrible narratives you tell yourself, in the container of a loving community, with support from me! All the details are over here: bearteachesyoga.org/a4a or just click the image below!