“Real Communication Happens in Silence”
I am reactionary by nature, and that does not serve my physical or mental or spiritual health. I react because I base too much of my sense of self on others’ perceptions of me. So I internalize the reaction.
I’m a meditator at heart and when I listen to the silence the reaction disappears. That doesn’t change the reality—but it alters my perception. Circumstances are neutral—our reaction gives them a label.
Years ago, I don’t remember how long, I decided to joint a gym. I wanted some type of change. I wanted a miracle pill to help me lose weight—to make me SKINNY overnight. Isn’t that every girl’s dream? My weight tipped the scales at its highest point, at that time, so it took a great deal of courage for me to even think about walking into a fitness place.
When I close my eyes, and think about that day, I can still feel the fear inside me. How will people treat me? Will they want/insist on putting me on a scale? I never liked scales (I still don’t), for they instantly told me I had no worth. They told that to others too. Scales can talk you know? And when they speak I feel only shame, and others feel the right to judge me. I can see it in their eyes, and in their intense curiosity to see exactly how much I weigh. It’s no coincidence then that I didn’t have the courage to go into a gym alone. With the help of a friend I mustered up the strength to walk through the doors of 24 hour fitness in Simi Valley.
The first person at the desk greeted everyone with a big smile and then directed us to a salesperson, Chad. I remember his name and appearance clearly. 6ft. tall with dark hair and eyes. A thin muscular build. He wore a light blue sweat suit.
Chad explained the membership fees; once I agreed to that, he began another soft sell—personal training. While I don’t remember the exact cost I do remember not having the available disposable income, so no was the only viable answer.
Chad didn’t like that. He didn’t like hearing no. Suddenly he switched from friendly mode to intense hard sales mode. His body language went from laid back and relaxed to stiff and upright. He leaned forward on his desk with a slightly menacing stance.
“You have to do something you know.” He bellowed forcefully in an attempt to shame me.
“Why do you think I’m here asshole.” I replied in my head. I didn’t have the courage or sense of self to respond as I wished I could have. Hearing his words though, caused me to shut down. I could literally feel my whole body going numb. I wanted to wither and way and hide in a corner so no one would ever find me. I could feel a sense of shock over take me. In those moments I craved a whole bag of double stuff oreos—they would take away the pain and shame. I couldn’t believe this guy, this salesperson, resorted to bullying tactics.
I suspect he’d never been told no by a fat person before. Most fat people have a hard time saying no. We are conditioned people pleasers, and people like Chad can sense that and know how to pounce on weakness. To this day I am not sure how I walked out of that gym standing.
After leaving the gym that day, I told the story to others, to anyone in my intimate sphere, which wasn’t a problem in and of itself, but I told it with a gale force of extreme emotion. I allowed it to affect my behavior, my internalized nervous system. Describing the shame, I could feel my blood pressure rise, my cheeks turning red. The anger flooded through me with nowhere to go but inside. Breaking a thousand dishes probably wouldn’t have diminished my angst. I can still feel the twinges of anger when I think about Chad because he deserved to suffer the consequences for his poor treatment of me.
I took Chad’s attitude personally, breaking the #1 rule of The Four Agreements—“don’t take anything personally”. I took his jerkish behavior as a reflection of my own self-worth or lack thereof. It’s bad enough that society treats fat people as marginalized citizens, but I make it worse when I treat myself like a marginalized citizen. And when I react that’s what I’m doing. I’m basing my sense of self on others’ perceptions.
I am quite sure, by the way, that I ate over the words of the 24 hour fitness salesperson. I may not have eaten a bag of oreos, but I’m sure I ate some high-fat, high-sugar, highly processed food. Eating brings me comfort, makes me feel better, providing me with a false sense of love. It still does, but I’m learning to seek that love within, and that’s where meditation comes in. Meditation and silence.
I meditate to find answers, and while I don’t always find the answers I do find peace. From that place of peace I find a non-reactive place of response, the ideal to which I seek.
When I come from that calm space I am more likely to seek comfort in healthy behaviors or foods. Just because I want to eat may not mean I am actually hungry.
How often am I hungry? And what am I hungry for? These are questions I need to ask myself before I eat or before I prepare food. My body sends me signals when it’s hungry, and I need to work at tuning into those internal communications.
At the time of the 24 Hour Fitness story I meditated off and on but not on a regular basis. In the ensuing years I’ve learned the value of taking a moment or even a day to process an event before reacting. I’m training myself to see life as a movie with me as an actor who can choose how I will perform. I am becoming the creator of my life and not allowing others to determine my future or my now.
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