In this episode of Eat the Rules, I’m talking about self care, why our culture has normalized putting our needs last and why this increases body shame, as part of the Body Image Series.
I also explore what gets in the way of us putting our needs first and how to change to build self-worth.
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This episode of eat the rules is brought to you by you on fire you on fire is the online group coaching program that I run that gives you a step by step way of building up your self worth beyond your appearance. With personalized coaching from me incredible community support and lifetime access to the program so that you can get free from body shame and live life on your own terms. Get details on what’s included and sign up for the next cycle at summer innanen.com forward slash you on fire, I’d love to have you in that group. This is eat the rules, a podcast about body image self worth, anti dieting, and intersectional feminism. I am your host summer Innanen. a professionally trained coach specializing in body image self worth and confidence and the best selling author of body image remix. If you’re ready to break free of societal standards and stop living behind the number on your scale, then you have come to the right place. Welcome to the show.
This is episode 204. And I’m talking about why our culture has normalized putting our needs last, why this increases body shame, what gets in the way of putting our needs first, and how to start to put your needs first in order to build self worth. You can find all the links and resources mentioned in this episode at summer innanen.com forward slash 204. Before we begin, I want to give a shout out to Jacqueline the lion who left this amazing review. Thank you just thank you for all of your episodes, but especially the one on setting boundaries with people you love. Girl, it’s like you’ve been watching my life for the past few months. I’ve just recently sent an email to family and set boundaries with them about talking about their weight loss and weight watchers stories and diet culture language in general. And this episode really validated my feelings and made me realize that this was okay and good and for my best interest. And I should not feel guilty about doing it. So thank you, thank you, Jacqueline, the lion and I just love that example and how you were able to use something from an episode to just you know, validate what you’ve already done and for having the courage to do that, because that is pretty badass. And you know, it actually ties in really well to this episode, which I didn’t realize I pulled this quote without even thinking about it. But it actually ties in really well because it’s about putting our needs first. And sometimes that means doing difficult things like setting boundaries. The episode that Jacqueline is referring to is Episode 124, how to set boundaries and exist in diet culture. I will link to that in the show notes. But you can just look for number 124. If you are curious about that particular episode, I would love it if you left a review for the show. You can do that by going to iTunes search for eat the rules, click ratings and reviews and click to leave a review that would mean so much to me. As well as if you took a second to just hit that little subscribe button on whatever platform you use to listen to the show. And don’t forget to grab the free 10 Day body confidence makeover at summer innanen.com. Forward slash freebies with 10 steps to take right now to feel better in your body. A few weeks ago, I posted a meme on Instagram that said disliking your body and being self deprecating is so normalized in our culture that we end up tolerating it within ourselves. And I asked you in my stories about whether you tend to tolerate discomfort and disliking your body and over 90% of you said yes. And I really wanted to make a podcast episode about this. And I had sort of like scripted one a bit about how we tolerate this liking our body. But when I was reading it, I was like, What is the point here? Like, what what point am I trying to make? And I honestly just kind of like tore it apart a bit and really went back to the core of it, which is how we don’t put our needs first. And when we don’t put our needs first that increases body shame because it keeps reinforcing that we are not good enough. And so I wanted to sort of get a little bit more into the root of it in terms of you know why we tolerate this liking our body because it it it felt on the surface. It sounds kind of like an individual problem. And it’s not it’s a it’s a cultural problem. And there’s a way to start to change that individually. But really, if we go to the core of it, it’s really about, you know, not feeling good enough and not feeling like our needs are important. And so this episode as part of the body image series, and I mention that at the beginning. Well, I’m mentioning it now is about exploring that. And so I’m going to talk about just my story as something two things I’ve really experienced. Just recently that just give examples of where I’ve put my needs last. And then we’re going to talk about why putting our needs last is is so normal and not our fault. And four reasons why we really tolerate putting ourselves last, why that isn’t working for us and for reframes to help, as well as a couple of questions to ask yourself to start to put your needs first. And so I just want to give a couple examples from my own personal life. So for those of you that do know or don’t know, I had a pregnancy loss in May of 2021. And, you know, I’ve been through pretty bad grief before, like when my dad died. And so I definitely, you know, made space for feeling feelings, and around that, around that. But something that came out of that experience was just a heightened anxiety. And I’ve never really been an anxious person before, but I’ve had this this kind of just like this level of anxiety going on. After that, and I think part of it’s definitely hormonal, and part of it was just emotional, and kind of having a bit of a really busy life, which a lot of us have, but not really giving myself enough time and space to to really process the meaning of, of the pregnancy loss. And, and just, you know, to like peel back an extra layer, it’s really just me trying to decide whether I even want to try that again, or decide that we’re just one and done. And this is our life, which is incredibly difficult decision. And since I’m coming up on 42, it’s like, no, I’m 42, I’m coming up a 43 Oh, my God, I just lost a year of my life, I have to decide, like yesterday. And so it’s a lot of pressure, it’s a lot going on in my brain. And I really kind of let it just be that way for a few months, until it kind of hit a bit of a breaking point where I was like, I need to talk to somebody about this. So I started seeing my therapist again. But I was putting that off because life was just in the way even though like if I had really tuned in to my needs my needs were, I really need to work through this, like I need some support. And I need some help. Because I’m surviving. And life is mostly pleasant, but I’m really just kind of tolerating this. And it’s showing up in just increased kind of general anxiety, as well as just being like a lot more emotional, which is also heavily connected to just the hormonal impacts of having that pregnancy loss and my period never been the same since that happened. And I’m also getting help on that. But
the mental piece of it, the physical piece was easier, it was easier for me to be like I need to see a doctor about these like hormonal issues, or I need to see my naturopath as well. But the mental stuff was the one where I was like, I don’t know, I can talk through this, it’ll just go away, it’s fine. And it didn’t. And so I wanted to put that out there. Because I think a lot of people can relate, whether that’s issues with our relationship with our career or struggling with the way we feel about our bodies, we kind of just tolerate it. Like we’re just like, Oh, it’ll be fine. Like, I’ll just keep working my way through it, you know, and we’re functioning, and we’re surviving, and it’s fine. But we’re not thriving, we’re not feeling fulfilled. And when I really looked at it, I was putting my needs last. So I made that change. After my first session with my therapist, I started to feel a lot better. And we’re still working together on it. But it’s just like, had to make that choice. And I’ll talk about why what kind of stands in the way of making these decisions as well. And then like on a really small scale. This is the whole other end of the spectrum in terms of putting our needs last. I literally had socks with holes in them. I think I had two pairs of socks without holes. And I was living like that for a few months. And I was like what am I doing like doing and it was just a pain in the ass. I didn’t want to go buy socks, because I didn’t know where to go that would have the socks that I liked. And I really needed to touch them. So I couldn’t buy them online because I’m very particular about my socks. And, and then at the same time, I was like living with two pairs of socks because all the other ones had holes, which was even more unpleasant. And then finally I went to a store and I bought some socks that was like that was incredibly easy, and I feel so much better. But we again, it’s just like we tolerate these levels of discomfort we tolerate things not being right. And when we actually do put our needs first and do something about it, we feel so much better. But I wanted to kick it off with those stories because hopefully you can relate to one end of the spectrum, probably both. And we’re gonna discuss why putting our needs last is really so normalized. I noticed this a lot on social media, especially in the last one and a half years by seeing memes that poke fun at how exhausted and burned out mothers are. If you are a parent and even if you’re not you probably saw this floating around there was like this meme that was like Barbies face all messed up and like her eyebrows were out of whack and her hair was all messed up and she just looked like a disaster and it was an I think the caption was something like me trying to manage homeschooling my kid going to work, you know, making food or whatever else, like all the kind of burden that we were taking on, by having kids at home or having, you know, just reduced childcare or living through a pandemic and everything else. And it was, it was kind of funny, but it is also really true. And our, you know, we almost like glorify this state of exhaustion, and we can sort of laugh at it. But it’s also like, that’s really sad. And we don’t see memes like that about men we don’t see. And I know, I’m looking at this from a very binary perspective in terms of men, man and women here. But it you know, when you look at like memes about motherhood, they’re very much like connected to like that gender binary. So that’s just what I’m referring to here. But obviously, this impacts any gender, but we don’t see memes like this about men, you know, women take on so much more of the mental and physical load of parenthood, and you don’t see like all of these memes going around talking about how men are exhausted. Whereas on my feet, I see a lot of posts about kind of just poking fun at how exhausted women are. And it goes way beyond parenthood. So if you don’t have kids, like you can probably still relate to this, you probably just see memes about like trying to keep your life together, or how you cry after work, because you have no life. And you have to just go to sleep and go back to work like, and it all just ties back to the pressure that we have, and the hustle to achieve the quote unquote, female ideal, which is really to, you know, look a certain way and be fashionable, and look young, and have a house that came off of HGTV, and be career oriented, and be a health enthusiast. And I talk about this a lot. I feel like I’ve probably mentioned this at least six times in past episodes, because I always come back to like the female ideal. And that pressure to kind of have that state of perfection, where we look perfect, and our life is perfect. And our career is perfect. And we’re thriving. And that what happens is, is if we’re setting that as the expectation for ourselves, what sometimes we don’t even realize we’re doing, we end up sacrificing our needs. And you know, we may think that our needs are to have less wrinkles, or make a green smoothie every day. But if it’s creating emotional exhaustion, if it’s creating mental exhaustion and physical exhaustion, is that really what we want for ourselves, you know, if we’re constantly hustling and exhausting ourselves to live up to these standards, then we’re not actually tuning into or honoring our needs. In a lot of cases, we’re just putting everyone else’s needs first, or we’re prioritizing how other people perceive us over what we really want for ourselves. And it makes it easier to tolerate when we think it’s normal to feel this way. Like you know, when we see kind of just like I said, on social media, like everybody’s exhausted and burnt out. But while yes, it’s like normal to have those days and a lot of people are feeling that way. Doesn’t mean that’s okay. And I don’t want us to tolerate that as our everyday existence. I meet with so many clients who are putting everyone else first and they’re never feeling good enough. And it’s no surprise, you know, it’s no surprise that those two things are correlated together. If we’re putting everyone else first, we’re just constantly sort of reinforcing that you know what my needs aren’t important, I’m not important. And that means I’m not good enough. You know, and, and so the reason we do this is not our fault. It’s really our patriarchal and capitalist and sexist culture that makes us feel like we constantly have to be doing and producing and achieving and being the best, but none of that really leads to fulfillment. And if we spend time and energy driving ourselves into the ground and investing resources, trying to fix ourselves, then we’re really not able to operate at our fullest potential. You know, there’s, there’s also a lot of people who profit off of us trying to hustle to achieve this state of perfection. If we woke up one day and really felt good enough, then the diet and beauty industries would likely crumble. There’s a lot of people who can who who are achieving great profitability off of the fact that we feel like we need to be thinner and look younger, and have our house look a certain way and everything else. One of the first things that I do with people in my group program you on fire is look at our shoulds. So shoulds being like all the things we think we should be and do. For example, I should be thinner, I should work out more. I should meditate. I should have called my mom today. I should be more organized. I should have I should be making more money right now. I shouldn’t have snapped at my kid. So on and so forth. You know, all of these shoulds and most of us don’t realize that they’re always kind of going on in the back of our minds unless we bring them to the For a fun front and start to reject them. And the only way to do that is by starting to actually put our needs first, you know, we think to ourselves, Well, if I just did all these things on my shed list, like all these things that I think I should do, then I wouldn’t feel bad, you know, I’d feel really good. But that’s really just hinging our self worth on these external measures. And that’s never going to make us feel good enough, you know, achieving your to do list is not going to make you feel good enough, that has to come from inside and you have to be okay, if your to do list doesn’t get done, you have to know you’re good enough, regardless of whether your to do list gets done or not. And these shoulds are just born out of these high expectations we’re putting on ourselves that come from the feet female ideal, and again, so it’s not your fault. But we’re never going to achieve everything on our should list. We will never achieve that. And it’s never going to make us feel good enough, even if we did but we won’t. Because I’ve never seen someone with a shortlist that looks doable, like not even close. And what happens is when we’re kind of thinking these things all the time, when we’re putting everyone else first, we end up having increased negative thoughts, we end up having increased feelings of inadequacy. And that almost always gets projected on to our body. And so we end up in this state where we’re kind of tolerating negative thoughts about our body, but feeling too exhausted to really do anything about it, or just thinking like, well, everybody feels this way. And when we can actually like, take a moment pause, bring some awareness to it, we can start to really tune into what our true needs are, to move us to a better place where we feel more nourished, more taking care of more supported, more and community and like, we aren’t good enough, because we are. And, you know, the bad news is like, there’s always going to kind of be probably always, I hope, not always, but probably in this lifetime, you know, these systems in place that maintain the structures of power and the messaging that you know that we’re not good enough. But the good news is that we really have some personal choices to opt out when we can and and that helps us invest our resources in really changing the system and changing our culture and influencing others. And being a role model to them. I want to talk about the four reasons we tolerate putting ourselves last. So one is we put off doing anything about it because it requires time and energy. And most of us are really drained. I mean, that was the issue with my socks, it was simply something I just felt too tired and burned out to do. You know, we’re tired, we’re burned out, we have too much on our minds, our shoulds are burdening us down, we put all these other things ahead of our mental well being, and it becomes this vicious cycle, because we don’t feel good enough to make a change or put our needs first. But then we end up staying feeling stuck, like we don’t have the time and energy for it. And it kind of becomes this like snake eating its tail. And it’s the cycle that we stay in. And in order to kind of get out of that we have to really, again, bring awareness to it, bring awareness to those shoulds and start to reject those in favor of what our real needs are, and the things that are and focus our attention on what’s truly going to give us a sense of fulfillment. The second reason is we I think we have a really low bar on what we deserve. You know, as I said, in my story, I was surviving, and I was doing fine. But I was not feeling at peace, I was not feeling fulfilled. And you know, why are we setting the bar so low for our existence? Like how can we set it higher so that we stop settling for just you know, okay, because we can function okay with something, but that doesn’t mean that’s how you want to be living your life. And I see this with body hate all the time, you know, we can sort of accept it as this undercurrent in our existence. But we don’t need to, you know, we can start to change that. And we deserve to feel good enough, because we are good enough, you are good enough, just as you are. And the third reason is, I think we also prefer to ignore our feelings. And that should be no surprise, right? I did another poll in my Instagram stories. And the vast majority of you said that you do prefer to ignore feelings. And my post was really related to my The reason I did that poll on my stories is because I had a post that said, I don’t know who needs to hear this, but ignoring your feelings doesn’t make them go away. You know, if we know that there is some kind of discomfort involved in change, which there sometimes is by putting our needs first, we would rather tolerate the discomfort we know than the one we don’t. So for example, if putting your needs first involves, you know, asking your partner to do something for you, or telling your kids that they need to do something on their own or reaching out to a therapist or a coach to do some emotional work, you might hesitate because you don’t want to dig into those feelings. You know, there’s sometimes fear associated with putting our needs first, maybe it means like setting a boundary or telling a family member something but that feels so scary, and it’s easier to stick with what we know it’s easier to kind of be like well, I just comfortable with this discomfort because it’s the one I know and I can exist. Okay in it, but the other one feels so damn scary, you know, it was easier for me to have the feelings I had than to have to kind of open up the deeper ones underneath, about what the what the pregnancy loss really meant to me. And so as it relates to body image, it’s kind of like, if I don’t hate my body, then I might have to face the shame underneath or judgment from others or be more vulnerable. There’s sometimes this big scary unknown on the other side, I can’t really think of that with my socks, I think that was really just related to the first point of not having the time and energy and perhaps having a bit of a low bar on what I deserved in that situation. But with a lot of these changes, where we have to, you know, when we want to put our needs first, it does involve a little bit of fear, and maybe feelings and feelings. And something I always like to remind people, it’s just that there’s discomfort in either situation, you know, there’s just comfort kind of staying with the discomfort, you know, and there’s discomfort, maybe making the change. But ultimately, when you make that change, it will alleviate that discomfort in the long term. That is the whole point of it. And then the last point, the fourth reason why we tend to put our needs last is because of something called Superwoman syndrome. And this is really interesting, I learned this from a therapist that I know a few years ago, and I, you can Google it, there’s a few articles on it. I don’t know who coined this term. But Superwoman syndrome is just when a woman neglects herself, because she’s seeking to do it all, you know, to achieve perfection. And, you know, she’s trying to do it all and be at all and exhausting herself. And on the on the surface. You know, she looks like she has it all together, it’s kind of you probably all know someone like this, that you’re like, wow, how does she do that? Like, how does she have three kids and still, you know, look so put together and have her career, but really under the surface, and I’m not, I’m not referring to anyone specifically about hair. But I’m sure that this is probably the case for a lot of people. Under the surface, they’re like, completely burned out and exhausted, either that or they have a team supporting them, but no one’s able to kind of like do that do that on their own. And it really takes this toll on us. But we have this expectation ourselves that we should be superwoman. And all it does is actually drain our time and our energy and our resources and make us resentful, and feel burned out. And you can’t keep that forever. But I think that we have this belief that we should be able to muscle through it on our own, and put everyone else’s needs first, and we’re just going to be fine. And because we’re receiving love from other people for doing that, it feels good. But it’s not actually making us feel better about ourselves. And we can still support the people in our lives while also putting our needs first, I think that that’s a huge point as well. And so, you know, why doesn’t this work? Like what, what’s the problem with putting our needs last? While every time we put our needs last, we reinforce that we’re not worthy, we’re reinforcing that our needs aren’t worthy, and that we’re not worthy. And unless we make a change that doesn’t go away on its own one day, you’re not just going to like, have your needs met, like you have to actually make a change to have them be prioritized. And conversely, you know, not conversely, that’s a weird segue. But if we do, make a change and do something about it, or making a huge deposit into our self worth, you know, I wish that things could just magically change in our lives. I wish that like difficult feelings could just go away. And we wouldn’t have to have tough conversations with people or really look at our lives and look at what aspects of it might not be fulfilling us. But that it just doesn’t change doesn’t happen by chance, it really takes intention, and practice to change the way we operate. In order to start that we have to start to put ourselves a little bit further up in line. And that will help us to reinforce that we’re not getting that that we are good enough that we’re not good enough. Oh my gosh. That’s not what I meant to say. But sometimes when I’m talking to clients about self care, like I always sort of positioned it as you know, it’s really a deposit into your software. Like every time you do something for yourselves, you’re reinforcing that you are worthy of it that you’re deserving of it and that you are good enough. And it’s one of those behaviors that I’m a huge advocate before because it makes a massive difference in how we feel about our body. We’re really good at tolerating crap, you know, but we don’t need to. We’re really good at like saying yes, when we want to say no, or just trying to, you know, keep all these balls in the air. But we don’t we don’t need to be doing that. Because it’s ultimately not going to be good for us. And I don’t want our baseline to be tolerating crap. Collectively. if more of us stop tolerating this way of being we’d have a lot more energy to really change the culture. And life is just too short. Like you don’t want to wake up one day, and it’s been a year and you’re still tolerating the same crap that you’ve been tolerating for a year or 20 years or 30 years. You know, we don’t we don’t need to be that way. We can we can make some changes and So I want to give you four reframes to really help overcome some of these mental blocks, or these things that get in the way. So one, if you feel like you don’t have time to put your needs first, this is really common. I hear this from people all the time. Like, I don’t have time to do this. I don’t have time to do that. But how much time and energy is it taking for you to tolerate the discomfort of not doing it? You know, how much is that taking away from you being present in your life being you being at peace in your life, you opening your sock drawer and being content like, you know, so you got to think about you do have the time because you’re spending it already feeling bad, or tolerating the discomfort. So we do have the time. And if it feels overwhelming, then start really small, ask for help once set up one session with a therapist or a coach, set aside 15 minutes to lay in your bed and rest. Go outside for five minutes, buy yourself some new underwear, just one pair, you know, we can start really small doesn’t have to be a giant overhaul. The second reframe I wanted to mention, and this really applies if you feel like you, you just tolerate it, and you just muscle through I’m going to put on my best Dr. Phil voice. How’s that been working for you? But seriously, I think we have to look and and look at how is it working for you? You know? And what difference would it make? If you had some support? Like yes, you are 100% capable of doing it on your own? Yes, you can absolutely tolerate it. But is that really what is going to be the best for you? You know, you can totally put together Ikea furniture on your own. But wouldn’t it be so much easier if you had some help? And you deserve lots of support and comfort? You know, and that’s really what I chose for myself in this process. I suppose I chose to get some additional support and comfort. And that was honestly one of the things my sarap therapist said to me, she’s like summer, you would you’re totally capable of having another child. It’s just if you like, want to do that, like would that actually end up ultimately breaking you mentally and physically because it’s such a challenge. And I think that those are kind of the questions that we need to ask ourselves to like, even though we can muscle through something doesn’t mean we should. And again, coming back to this point that making a change is a huge deposit into our self worth. And I always say that when people decide to work with me, because it feels really scary to do that. But it’s a huge deposit into their self worth because they’re starting to change that trajectory, and making a commitment to saying I’ve had enough and I’m worthy of acceptance and feeling good. And God dammit, I deserve this. If you’re afraid of feeling feelings, if like you may be something’s going on in your relationship or your career, but you just kind of tolerate it because you’re afraid of really opening up those feelings underneath. Let me reframe it for you. Those feelings are there, whether we make space for them or not. And if we’re not making space for them, they’re going to show up in other places like anger, fatigue, resentment, being irritable, snapping at your kids isolating anxiety, burnout, and other mental health issues or physical health issues. Or we may be turning to coping mechanisms like dieting, to try to soothe ourselves. You know, like I said, body shame runs rampant when we’re putting our needs last. And so just keep in mind that ignoring feelings doesn’t mean they’re not there. It just there it means they’re showing up in other little Shapeshifter ways that are making life more difficult, like in my case, anxiety and being irritable. And then the last reframe I want to share is just there’s really no pride in being Superwoman. You know, I have this old meme that I wrote, I think I wrote it in like 2017. But I reshare it every year because it’s one of the more popular ones. And it goes like this, I’m hyper aware of how our culture praises the Superwoman, the woman who can manage being a mom or career person, a health enthusiast while maintaining a Pinterest worthy home. And how this obsession with doing it all starts to impact the pressure we put back on ourselves. I’ve decided I’m here to praise the people who rest the ones who set firm boundaries, the ones who say no, the ones who asked for help the ones who admit they don’t have it all together, the ones that choose the messiness of life, instead of trying to keep everything polished and pristine. That is the kind of Superwoman I’m here for. And so if that is you, or I want that to be you, or you want to be that you want that to be you, I am here for you. That is the kind of example I want to see more of, I am tired of this ridiculous notion of perfection, because it is bullshit. And it is fake. And it is only hurting other people by putting that out in the world. And so let’s leave this on a note of like, what can you do about this? If this is resonating with you? I think it’s just like, let’s start really small. I’m going to just ask a couple of questions. These are things that you can ask every day, and it’s just about starting to make a small change. But the first step is really bringing awareness to what our needs are. And we could just ask ourselves a simple Question, What does my body need? Like even right now, just take a moment, take a deep breath, do a little body scan, what does your body need right now? Need some water, you just stretch need to lay down, need to relax your shoulders need to take another deep breath. These little ways, just tuning that tuning in, and then looking for bigger ways, like what does my body need today? You know, what’s going to help me feel better? And then the bigger question, what do I need emotionally? What do I need emotionally? You know, do I need to talk to somebody about something to I need to make a little change in my life? Do I need to explore something in my life? It’s a bigger question. But you can start on a small scale without too maybe what you need emotionally in this moment is to take another deep breath. That’s not my solution to everything I promise. Maybe it is to call someone and talk to them. Maybe it’s to write something out. Maybe it’s to listen to some music, whatever it could be. It could be anything. But as a culture, I don’t want us to tolerate feeling bad in our lives or in our body because we have huge gifts to put out into this world. And when we reclaim that time and energy, it makes a huge difference. And you deserve that. Thank you so much for being here today and listening. You can find all the links and resources mentioned at summer innanen.com forward slash 204. If this episode resonated with you, I’d love to know send me a DM on Instagram, or through my Facebook page. I would love to know and I will be back next week with another episode. Thank you so much for being here. Rock on.
I’m Summer Innanen. And I want to thank you for listening today. You can follow me on Instagram and Facebook at summer Innanen. And if you haven’t yet, go to Apple podcasts search eat the rules and subscribe rate and review this show. I would be so grateful. Until next time, rock on
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