Looking in the rear-view mirror

The other day, as my girlfriends and I were celebrating a birthday, we ambled into the dangerous territory of our past photographs. I could hear everyone sigh. One spoke about dark circles and scanty hair, the other on her weight gain since her marriage, still another on her inability to shed her baby fat. And then there was me, going into my dark corner of “what will happen to the Snehal that was?”

So, folks, that’s the inspiration for today’s blogpost. Something that has me scared and thoughtful at the same time. What do we do when we start playing the comparison game… with our past (awesome) selves?

In 2015 I had started CrossFit and I was kicking ass, but that lasted all of 2 years and then nothing, zilch. And since then, I have always mulled over that Snehal. Yet, atleast the belief was there that someday I could get back. But it’s different now! With cancer there is no going back! I am going to be a version of myself, which I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be seeing.

And to think I was already struggling with postpartum changes, and now this gets added on! Dammit, I can feel a hot flash coming!

Honestly, I don’t think comparing is all bad. Aren’t we all guilty of “#throwback” pics on IG? Don’t we always compare our lives to that of other people around us – “the grass is greener” sort of thing? So it’s natural to do so with our past too right?

But it’s when the little voice in your head creates self-doubt and anxiety; when we start shaming ourselves and believing we are worthless in comparison to what we were; that’s when trouble starts. Remember the butterfly story from my previous article? Well, the caterpillar has metamorphized and how much ever he tries, he can’t go back to being a caterpillar. He can’t even fathom that he has become something far more beautiful!

Yeah! Look at me giving that damn caterpillar a pep talk.. while I am the one who is going crazy about Snehal 2.0.

What will she look like? Will she be scared of her own shadow? Will she be healthy? Will she be strong? Sighh.. so many questions; which am sure all of us have, every time we think of our current or future state.

So what can we do to make things better and control the script of this inner voice – where it goes from making us feel like damaged goods to wonder-(wo)men.

So here are some tips that have started helping me stay sane and positive:

Accept the fact that this is not the last time you will compare:

Always remember, the devil in our mind is like Facebook; throwing up images of our past; especially during our weakest moments. With chemotherapy on, I have had so many instances of just replaying the best hair styles I have had.  

My counsellor, during one of our sessions, told me that simply being cognizant of negative self-talk and its impact on you, is the first step towards change.

Look at how you can make peace with your current self:

I think this is the most difficult thing to do. We always protect that idealised form of our past self. The times when we were most successful or had the perfect body.

Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have. — Robert Holden

Doesn’t this quote make complete sense, like all relationships, our relationship with our past can either be positive or negative. And if its toxic, we need to let go of that part of our past – basically we must know that for all the amazing moments we remember, there were a lot of negative moments too.

It’s about a “healthy comparison” – all my experiences of the past have influenced who I am today. I am able to face this phase head on only because of my past, and I have gratitude for it.

I know it’s difficult, but be future focused:

It’s sometimes best to look at the past as if it were spilt milk – no point crying over.. but what we have control over, is our ever evolving future. I have realised that in this stage of my life, I have to think about the future. i.e. once I am done with my treatment, what is ‘Snehal 2.0’ going to be?

At the same time, I need to be careful of my inner voice and ensure it doesn’t sabotage my 2.0 version.

Use an affirmation:

I would strongly recommend using affirmations, to help in this journey. Celebrities such as Jim Carrey, Denzel Washington, Oprah Winfrey use affirmations for a positive mindset and belief. It’s about sending the message to the universe about what you want to manifest.

Examples of affirmations are:

  • I am beautiful
  • I love my body and all it does for me
  • I love the person I am today
  • I am beautiful, inside and out

You ask, why I am rambling on about this? Well, because it took cancer to make me want to love myself more, hug myself more, comfort myself more. So, I would just say “go embrace yourself” and thank your current self for supporting your dreams and ambitions.

Remember, you are always WIP; your best version is yet to come!