Fat Girl Wearing Thin

Life beyond the loss.

   Jan 12

Group Therapy Thursday: Week Two



For someone who’s hosting a self-esteem challenge, I suppose it wouldn’t look very good if I began this week’s group therapy by mentioning that I’ve not been in a very good frame of mind this week, was extremely hard on myself on more than one occasion and feel as though I failed miserably with this week’s exercise.  The truth is, I did have some issues, but I’m glad things happened like they did.  I realized (and I hope you do, too) that realistically, we can’t claim victory over all our struggles in one week’s time, or even one month’s time.  Making progress is the key.  So, while I didn’t feel like I earned an A+, I suppose I should be given credit for completing the exercise, right?   



First things first:  my list of questions: 

I often receive the most compliments on my hair.

What I admire most about myself when I look at my reflection is my eyes.

I take pride in my ability to connect with people.

I love the fact that I can go to yoga class and not feel insecure anymore.

My greatest quality is that I’m dependable.


Just out of curiosity, how many of you found the first set of questions (the ones you were just supposed to think about) much easier and faster to answer?  I know they were for me.  That part of the exercise was to show ourselves how much time we spend thinking  negative things about ourselves as opposed to positive.  Some of those answers popped into my head without any forethought at all.  That’s just sad. 

So, my list of questions were not easy to answer.  In fact, I had to finish them in stages.  When I finally did, I studied my answers for a bit and then decided that I would begin my exercise while I was doing another task:  painting my living room.  Good idea, I thought.  That way I could really concentrate on the exercise itself. 

I did pretty well, going over those positive aspects of myself while rolling the paint onto the walls.  Actually, it was kind of soothing.  I didn’t let any other thoughts get in the way.  I just focused on my exercise and my painting.  Then, about half-way through my paint job I looked around at the color I’d chosen.  Suddenly, my exercise was the last thing on my mind.  I’d just rolled the ugliest color EVER onto my living room walls without even realizing it.  I thought I’d chosen a soft taupe.  This color, now on my walls soaking up all of my positive energy was steel gray

Normally I wouldn’t be so hard on myself for such a minor mistake, but on that day the negative thoughts were shooting out of my head like fireworks.  We’ve been having some medical issues with Emmie and I hadn’t slept in three nights so I was already tired and feeling like the world was against me.  I was literally at war with myself.  I tried to maintain the integrity of the exercise by allowing negative thoughts to pass by, but the thing was – they didn’t want to pass by.  They wanted to defeat me. 

My negative Self:  …and you call yourself an artist?  How could you not know what color your were going to end up with? 

My positive Self:  It’s hard to tell what a color is going to look like by using a small paint chip.  I thought it would look all right.

My negative Self:  …you can’t do anything right. 

My positive Self:  I just need to go back to the store and get another gallon of paint and try again.  It isn’t the end of the world. 


But it sure felt like it at the time.  I considered putting my exercise on hold until I was better rested, in a better mood.  Just better prepared!  But then I thought, If I do this when it’s easier, then what am I going to learn from it?  I’m always going to have days when things won’t go perfectly.  Now is the time I should be practicing this. I can’t let these thoughts get the best of me.  If I do, then I’ll feel bad about myself for the rest of the day. 

Were you able to do the exercise for the given amount of time?  If not, were you able to redirect your thoughts back to the present? I managed to focus on my exercise for about 10 minutes longer but it became increasingly difficult to bring my attention back to the positive.  I chose one thing about myself – my dependability – and focused on that one when I felt like giving up. 

Did it feel any different knowing that you weren’t relying on outside sources to challenge your beliefs – that you trusted yourself to be content with the things you knew to be true about yourself?  Luckily for me, I was the only one who tried to make myself feel bad.  My husband kept saying, ‘With all of the painting you do, you’re bound to make a mistake once in a while.  Paint is an easy fix.’    Boy, my negativity was on fire that day, though.  What I wanted to say was, ‘Yeah, well that’s easy for you to say; you’re not the one who made the mistake!’  Instead, I was grateful for his attitude about the whole thing. 

Finally, discuss how things are coming along with the Positive Reinforcement Sheet.  You will be almost half-way through the Challenge by Thursday.  Where are you still struggling?  Where are you succeeding? 

Since figuring out from last week’s exercise that I needed to be alone with myself while saying my positive reinforcing words instead of inviting my entire grade school classmates along, I have been doing much better.  I think it has a LOT to do with the control I’m taking back.  If I can’t bring myself to say positive things while looking at my reflection then it’s almost like I’m allowing them to win.  That might not be the best way to describe it, because this is supposed to be about me and not them – but in a way, it’s motivating me to figure out a way to be at peace with all of this.  I’m looking forward to seeing how I do these last couple of weeks. 

Before I close my part of the session, I just wanted to repost the quote from Monday.  It’s so lovely and beautiful, I think it’s worth repeating: 

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?  Actually, who are you not to be?

~Marianne Williamson

Marianne’s quote feels so at home here.  I hope it resonates with you half as much as it has with me.

Have a good session, everyone.



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  1. Totally unrelated… I tagged you on my blog today. Because I think you are awesome:)

  2. Here is my post. I look forward to reading everyone and catching up when I return this weekend.


  3. Myra says:

    I used to do color analysis when I sold Amway products and had a line of cosmetics. I am an autumn which means I have yellow based skin. The other warm season is spring and the two cool seasons (blue based skin) are summer and winter. It has nothing to do with the birth date by the way. Anyway – we always set up for natural light. The artificial light in the store can make things look different. Take whatever you are deciding upon to the window if you can find one or outside and you will get a truer idea of the color before you. Sometimes I think we want to criticize ourselves before someone else does. Be well. I like this challenge idea.

  4. I found this week’s post easier – and I think it’s because I am happy with myself now. It’s actually a scary thing to type that, because then I start thinking about things could go wrong, and I start to feel like I’m tempting fate by saying that I’m happy. I’m going to try to put those thoughts away and enjoy being happy with me for maybe the first time in my life.

    I don’t feel like I went as deep in my post this week – but I figured out why overeating was so hard for me. It’s not because I think I’m going to gain back all of my weight overnight, it’s because I feel like I have no self-control. For me, that’s worst feeling I can have, and probably why I’ve never drank alcohol much and almost unhealthily refuse to take an medicine, especially pain killer. I equate my self worth with how well I can control everything in my life, and I’m sure that’s not healthy. That mentality and learning the ‘let go’ is something I definitely need to work on!

    My post link is http://www.lauraliveslife.com/2012/01/12/hate-loss-challenge-week-two-accepting-the-now/

    I appreciated reading your story too – it is really hard to talk back to our negative voice, but learning how to do that (with a little help from our family and friends) is a valuable thing to learn in the path to self-contentment!

  5. Hanlie says:

    It was an interesting exercise. I had to think hard about some of the responses… I think it helps that I really like myself these days and am learning to stand up for myself in all kinds of situations.

    Here’s my post: http://www.hblewett.com/blog/2012/01/12/hlc-group-therapy-week-2/

  6. Haba na haba, hujaza kibaba.

    No, I didn’t just type gibberish. :) It’s an old Swahili proverb that I saw this morning right before reading your post. It means, “Little by little, fills the cup.” I know it’s hard work now, but I hope it leads to an overflowing cup of self-esteem one day!

    Take care of yourself and hope you have better week! (And that Emmie feels better too!)


  7. Cindy says:

    Hi, Ellen. I really liked this exercise because it made me realize how far I’ve come the last year since I started taking care of myself and losing weight. Yes, the negatives were/are very easy to identify, but I have to say that the negative thoughts, while still there and blaringly loud too often still, aren’t as destructive as they used to be. I think what has helped me is that one year ago I weighed 275 lbs (my top weight, ever) and, at the time, I yearned to be even 250 or 225 lbs. I remember telling a friend that I wish I had enjoyed those lower weights while I was at them because it wasn’t nearly as bad as 275. So, now that I’m 198, I’m not at goal, but I’m really enjoying it. I’m thankful for where I’m at because I lived the alternative and I was miserable. Having this mindset has made a difference in my level of contentment with myself. This mindset, thankfully, has spilled over to other aspects of my life as well. Here is my list:
    I often receive the most compliments on the work I do in my professional career.
    What I admire most about myself when I look at my reflection is my hair.
    I take pride in my work.
    I love the fact that I can walk without pain and fit in chairs in waiting rooms.
    My greatest quality is my resilience.
    I was able to do this exercise for the amount of time and I trusted myself with it. I am still struggling with the positive reinforcement sheet, but realized that I can use this exercise to build on that. I am going to have to work on it like everything else. Great week! Thank you for getting me focused in this direction!


  8. Ellen, I think you deserve an A+ precisely because you completed the exercise, despite the fact that it was a struggle. Acknowledging that it’s a process (and not necessarily a linear one) is where the victory lies.

    Here’s my response: http://www.kclanderson.com/practicing-hateloss-week-2

  9. Oh… now you have me thinking… I need to ponder my answers. GREAT post.
    Have a pretty day,

  10. Jill says:

    This exercise was harder than I thought and will need more time on my part. It does not help that I procrastinated doing the thinking until last night. (bad Jill) I will work on this and hopefully have a post this weekend. (I have to be careful what I sign up for)!! :)

  11. Yetti says:

    So I’ve chickened out on posting, but I have been following along within a notebook. Last weeks assignment took EVERYTHING out of me… reflecting back and such. But this weeks challenge wasn’t too bad. It forced me to look at myself in a positive light which is something I’ve been working on for forever. Looking forward to reading through all the comments.

    And FYI you should take pride in your ability to connect with people, I admire that about you via watching you and your readers!

  12. Goodnuff says:

    Once again, thank you for this challenge! I’m learning a lot about me. I give you kudos for completing this when you were all primed up for negative self talk.

    My post for this week is here: http://goodnuff.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/hate-loss-group-therapy-week-2/

  13. Paula says:

    This challenge topics have been really tough! Here it goes;

    My life would be so much better if I were only: Rich, extremely talented & striking

    I’d be so much happier if I had a better: job

    I wish I weighed: 100 pounds

    When I look in the mirror, the first thing I criticize about myself is my: weight

    The one negative word that I use about myself over and over again is: ugly

    I often receive the most compliments on my__cooking.

    What I admire most about myself when I look at my reflection is____smile.

    I take pride in my____self reliance.

    I love the fact that I can___think for myself.

    My greatest quality is______I am loyal.

    Now I’ve been practicing the positive reinforcement sheet and find that it has really helped my attitude. I’ve had 2 crappy days, but kept the beating of myself down to a minimum. I have been practicing alone and also when I am with my husband. I was kind of hoping he would come along with me on this one, but he is not. I am hoping to feel more positive by the end of this month. I am not giving up.

  14. didi says:

    These were fun to answer. I am looking forward to reading everybody’s posts.

  15. Julie says:

    Sorry I’m late. I’ve been sick all week. I don’t have much brain power this week, so I my post is not all that reflective!


  16. Munchberry says:

    I’m glad you were concentrating on your one true positive thing and contradicting negative self talk at the very moment. Recognizing it for what it is and vanquishing it.

    It is SO hard to be in the moment and positive when you are worn out.

  17. teresa says:

    This is really a challenge!! But I did it this week.

    Ellen, I tried it again after reading what you shared. You gave me this inspiration. That it wasn’t easy for you and you plowed through it anyway, got me to do it one more time. xoxo

  18. You’re right, Ellen. I do find it so much easier to think up crappy things about myself than good ones. By the same token I have a really hard time accepting complements and praise. I guess it comes from a lifetime of low self-esteem. Glad you have a supportive husband to help you through the rough patches. My wife is the same way for me.

    • Tim says:

      I’m exactly the same as you Greg. So if Ellen’s husband or your wife has a sister who is equally as supportive as those two then feel free to point her in my direction! haha!

  19. Great post and again, so brave of you to face these questions when feeling less than your best. It really does sound like you have a great understanding of how our brains tend to work against us, especially when we a re feeling down, which just helps to perpetuate these negative feelings. It’s so easy to say “see, here’s the proof” when something (anything) goes wrong in life.

    I know I am late again but I wanted to be sure to give this exercise the attention it deserved. (I was away for a few days.)

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