I’ve bragged a million times about how much I adore the Nerdist Podcast. Because they’re all long-format interviews, which most notable people aren’t used to, you can really stumble into some wisdom from unexpected sources. The most recent gem was regarding self esteem and I learned it from Rob Lowe.
He was discussing at first how frustrating it is to hear someone reference someone else’s low self esteem as though it were a problem that could easily be fixed. He said someone told him that his problem because of his low self esteem and he joked that he was like, “Great. And how do I fix that?” because it’s always declared like there is an obvious fix. “Oh! That’s just low self esteem!” It was funny, but isn’t it so true? We tend to throw that out a lot as the “reasons” people make certain decisions, but it’s not that easy of a thing to fix.
He then mentioned how he was 50’ish before he learned the trick to having high self-esteem. He talked about how a friend told him you have to make decisions for yourself that you would make if you had high self-esteem and eventually your outlook on yourself will improve because you’re basically treating yourself better. He joked how it seemed so obvious but he hadn’t really thought of it like that before.
AND Y’ALL! NEITHER HAVE I!
I often think about how my general confidence has improved greatly the last few years and I know it has a lot to do with my new social life and my new active life that I’ve pursued since Dad died in 2009. But I never really understood the cause/effect relationship of those things until Rob Lowe pointed it out. I was forcing myself to do things that someone who loves themselves would do. I found healthy hobbies to pursue that keep me active. I found peer groups that surround me with love and support. I dedicate time to things that filled me with joy and energy instead of stripping it all away.
I’ve even notice I did it with my entertainment choices. I watch way more scripted television that I do reality TV now – and I think that’s because reality TV always kinda made me feel bad about myself. Partly because I was finding entertainment in what had to be negative impact on someone else’s life (I’m not sure many who go on a reality TV show ACTUALLY ends up better in the long run because of it.) and partly because I was boosting my own ego by comparing myself to the idiots on my TV…and that’s never a good way to build esteem.
I think about how I spend my energy every day, and how right now I do so much more FOR myself than I ever did before. I don’t think I ever made the decision, “I’m going to live my life as if I love myself…” but that’s exactly what I accidentally started doing and so I have been reaping the benefit for years now. The benefit of actually starting to love myself.
At least much more than I have in the past. I’ve suffered from self-hatred in the past, and it’s really been a long time since I’ve had any of those moments of true self-loathing. I can’t even remember the last time, to be honest.
I’m still hard on myself, and I still get frustrated with some of my choices in life, but 99% of those relate to my own body image and my relationship with food. SO! I decided yesterday to start thinking more like Rob Lowe when it comes to how I treat my body. Treat it as though I love it, even if the love isn’t quite there yet. I was actually listening to the interview while on the treadmill so I stuck it out the full 6 miles even though I had already been contemplating stopping at 6. I stood stronger yesterday in the attempt to give up Diet Coke than I have recently. When I wanted a treat I made a relatively healthy choice since I’m emerged in 100K training now and my body needs GOOD energy, not sugar which is quickly burned.
I’m also going to try to apply Rob Lowe’s method to improving my feelings about my body and my relationship with food. Am I super-stressed and wanting to hide in the Publix parking lot and eat 6 donuts (a situation that arises at least once a week)? Well, is that a decision I would make if I loved my body? Maybe during the off season, but not when I’m also trying to get my body ready for a 100K. And also – what would better help my anxiety? Because if I truly love my body and myself then I want to ease my anxiety and the donuts always make it worse later. In the moment? BLISS AND COMFORT. But then an hour later? I hate myself.
Instead I would like to color. Or play in my bullet journal. Or read. Something else to distract me from the downwards spiral and allow me to level out and calm down. If I loved myself, then those are the decisions I should make. And since I want to love myself, I should make those decision and know that the love grows from those type of decisions. I’ve grown to love myself over the years of facing my social anxieties and finding groups to help motivate me to stay active, I just need to apply those same efforts to my body and my spirit so that I can heal those parts of my bruised and battered esteem.
So…on days where I just lose all love for myself and am riddled with anxiety and want to drink 4 beers and 10 donuts just to soothe the frayed nerves (because it all does soothe it momentarily) I’m going to try to look at it like Rob Lowe does.
Is this what I would do if I loved myself in this moment? No. Because if my friend was suffering I would try to counsel her to try things like therapy or meditation or medication or art or…I would not tell her, “Hey! Go have 4 beers and 6 donuts! It will totally make you feel better!” And I should try to give myself that same counseling I would give a friend that I love.
Thank you, Rob Lowe. For being a little bit like Chris Traeger, even in your real life.