If you know me, you know I love Demi Lovato. Not only is she a badass superstar who can give Celine Dion a run for her money, but she's had her fair share of trials and tribulations that we can all stand to learn from. While her battle with addiction is more widely known and highlighted by the media, she's been very open with her body image struggles and disordered eating.
She dwells upon these hardships in her book, "Staying Strong," a 365-day devotional with inspiring quotes and personal testimonies on every page. This book has helped guide me through my recovery and continues to inspire me to this day.
I was scrolling through the pages when I landed on May 7. It had a quote from Buddha followed by an excerpt with the insight she gathered from the quote.
May 7: "Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned" — Buddha
"I've had to learn this lesson many times in life because it's hard to let go. Anger and resentment are so toxic that you end up hurting yourself. When you are wronged, it's better to confront it with tolerance, forgiveness, and acceptance. Ultimately it's best to let it go, otherwise it builds up."
I found these words to be deeply profound and applicable to numerous situations.
Often times body image struggles stem from anger.
You're angry that you don't look a certain way.
You're angry that your jeans don't fit how you want them to.
You're angry at yourself for not going to the gym.
You're angry at yourself for eating that cookie.
That anger then turns to self-hate, which inevitably turns to sadness.
While this is a normal feeling and part of life, it's important to recognize these moments of anger and find ways to combat them. We have to let go of this anger and change our perspective of the situation in order to reverse that hate and avoid sadness.
Anger, hate, and sadness accompany each other in a variety of scenarios, not just with body image struggles. It could be anger towards a friend who you feel has wronged you. It could be anger towards a parent who has let you down. It could be anger towards a partner for something they've done. Or it could be anger towards yourself for something you've done — no matter the situation, hate and sadness are almost always a result.
And that result is one too heavy to bear.
Sure, I may be angry that my body doesn't look a certain way after months of workout classes. In that moment of anger, I need to take a step back and appreciate the fact that my body allows me to do those workout classes in the first place. My strength cannot be confined to a six-pack, and neither can yours.
In one of my recent moments of anger, a different perspective was brought to my attention that allowed me to let go of that resentment. This particular moment was triggered by the fact that I didn't like the way I looked in a dress I was trying on. The dress looked amazing on the double-zero model featured on the website but didn't quite translate to the image I was hoping to see in the mirror. After voicing my frustrations to my friend, she replied with, "Have you ever considered the fact that it's not you, it's the dress?" And this really spoke to me.
At that moment, I was letting my anger towards a stupid dress have so much power over me.
Instead of realizing that my anger was literally caused by an inanimate object that has no significance in my life whatsoever — I took that anger out on myself and turned it into self-hate. I questioned myself, my body, and my worth before I questioned the dress.
Another part of the quote mentioned above reads, "it's better to confront it [anger] with tolerance, forgiveness, and acceptance."
A concept so simple, yet so hard to grasp.
When your heart is filled with anger and hate — filter those emotions with tolerance, forgiveness, and acceptance. Whether it be towards yourself or someone else.
When you're mad at yourself for eating that cookie, cut yourself some slack. Forgive yourself, accept that it happened, and move on.
When you're standing in front of the mirror and are angry at yourself for not looking a certain way, look at your reflection with tolerance and forgiveness. You don't have to love yourself at all times, but you won't find peace until there's acceptance. The same goes for other people.
Let go of that anger and resentment. That anger isn't going to make your jeans fit, give you abs, mend your relationship, or help you sleep at night. It's going to lead to hate and sadness. You are the only one who gets burned.
Let it go.