Today I went for a run outside (the weather in Denver is glorious!) and talked to my daughter Maya the entire hour and a half while I was running! She is in Israel this year and I just love talking to her on the phone while I run. Two of my favorite things! Running and talking toMaya!
I was sharing with Maya some new insights I have gotten lately about body image and how I realized that I had carried certain biases with me my entire life and have judged myself harshly, and how I NEVER want my girls to do that to themselves. A couple of weeks ago I went into a four day thought-storm, no, it was more like a four day hurracaine of fear, doubt and insecurity about my body (it looks different now that I am post menopause), my weight (oh my G-d, what if I am up 3 pound…what if it keeps going), and the lovely “what are people going to think?”
The good news is that I knew at some level that my experience was thought created. That I was being visited by lots of thought about my body, my weight, my looks. I knew it was thought, but due to the 3 principles of our psychological experience, my thoughts looked and felt totally real. And as you can imagine it didn’t feel very good at all. It kept me feeling very separate from my husband, my friends, my kids, myself, and from G-d. Yucky. It felt yucky.
The yucky feeling should have been a clue that the QUALITY of my thinking was pretty low and to NOT TAKE IT SERIOUSLY. However, because I am HUMAN, there will always be things I can’t see while I am in it. Kind of like a fish in water looking for water. You can’t always see it when you’re in it. And it looked so real that I really thought I had to DO something about my body and weight.
Of course, as all thought does…it passed. My thinking settled, and as a result, my feelings settled and everything looked different. Although I would have preferred to NOT have this experience, I am grateful for the insights I gained from it. ALL thought comes with a FEELING. The quality of my feeling in the moment lets me know the quality of my thinking in the moment. The CONTENT is not what is important, because that is always going to change as long as I am alive. However, G-d gave me (and you) an internal guidance system, our feelings, which let me know if I should perhaps act on my thinking or wait for it to pass (which it always does). My friend and colleague Aviva Barnett talks about these ideas in her book Ride the Wave. I highly recommend it!
Later in our conversation Maya was telling me about some of the incredible things she has learned while studying at Sharfman’s (B’not Torah). She was saying how much she had learned about what it means to be a Jewish woman and how lucky she is to be one. We started talking about the morning blessing that women say “Thank You for making me according to Your will,” and it occurred to me that Hashem knew that women would have insecurities about their bodies, looks, you name it, and so we have a blessing that tells us that G-d made us EXACTLY the way He wanted us to be!! If I am tall or short, large or small, if I have straight hair or curly hair, light skin or dark skin, quiet or loud….He made me according to the way He wanted me to be!! So even if I am visited by some insecure thinking, I a) don’t have to believe it since my feelings are a sure sign that the info I am getting is not true, and b) the blessing affirms that no matter what, I am made exactly the way G-d wants me…and how can you get better than that?