In order to move forward, we need to make peace with our past. It happened. However, we view our past through the lens of our present self. As a result, our past changes.
Maybe the actual events of the past don’t change, but how we view and think about our past experiences can change as we look at the events through our current circumstances.
In this super vulnerable podcast episode, I’m writing letters to the past versions of myself, explaining to her what’s happening and why, and then what to look forward to. I’m telling her how I really feel about what she’s been doing, forgiving her for the mistakes that she’s made, and showing her how incredible her life is going to be.
There’s an interesting thing that happens as we age. When we’re young, we look forward to the future. When we’re in kindergarten, we can’t wait to get to first grade. And when we’re in grade school, we think about how great it’s going to be when we’re a big kid in middle school and then high school and college.
When we’re in college, we look forward to being able to make it on our own. Getting the next job and then getting married and having children. But then something happens where we stop looking at the future so much and start looking back at our past. And then we use our past experiences as evidence of what we’re capable of in the future.
And so, what happens is we recycle the same experiences and the same relationships, and we do the same things because we’re boxing ourselves in not thinking about what’s available to us moving forward. In today’s episode, you’re going to learn how to look at your past through the lens of your current self, and how to change your experience of the past so that you can move forward and live into the future that you want to create.
Let’s get started.
You are listening to the done with dieting podcast. The podcast for women in midlife, who are done with dieting, but still want to lose weight and feel good in your clothes.
You know that diets don’t work long term. But you feel like there’s this secret that everyone else knows that you just haven’t figured it out yet.
I am your host, Elizabeth Sherman. And I’ve helped hundreds of women get off the diet roller coaster, change their relationship with food, exercise, and their bodies.
Through this podcast, my goal is to help you too.
Welcome. Let’s get started.
Hey everyone, welcome to the Done with Dieting Podcast, podcast number 99. Now, if you’ve been listening to the podcast recently, I’ve been talking a lot about my 100th episode. And today we are recording podcast number 99. And so, episode number 99 and episode 100 kind of go together.
In episode number 99, what I wanted to do was I wanted to take some time and actually look at my past and really talk to the previous versions of myself. If you’ve been a listener of the podcast or if we’ve worked together as clients. You know that I talk a lot about the future version of myself, the present version of myself, and the past version of myself.
And so, in order to move forward, it can be really helpful to make peace with the past versions of ourselves. And something that I’ve actually been working a lot on recently myself is whenever we remember something, whenever we look at our past, we look at our past through the eyes of the person we are presently.
So, every time we learn something new when we revisit a memory, we can look at that memory through different eyes based on the experiences that we’ve had from the last time we had the memory to the current time we had the memory. And so, by being able to look at our past through our present self and heal those past wounds, the things that we felt were wrong from our past. What we can do is we can actually move forward.
What I’ve done in this episode is I’ve written five different letters to myself. And those five different letters are actually organized through decade. I am 53 years old. I’m just about to turn 54. And so, what I’ve done is I’ve divided up all those 54 years into five actually six letters to myself. What you’re going to hear next is those short letters to myself in the different ages. So, let’s get started.
I don’t remember a lot about you, but I have a photo of you posted in my office. You are silly and I love that about you. You are so incredibly precocious, precious, and inquisitive. You are full of joy. You love skating and playing in the dirt, and you get frustrated when you’re not allowed to do the things that your sisters are doing.
You want to be able to skate with two skates, but you’re only allowed to skate with one. You hate wearing dresses and that’s okay, you’re only five. It’s going to take a long time before you want to wear anything other than jeans and gym shoes. You just feel more comfortable in that. Go with it.
If there was one thing that I want you to know, it’s that there’s nothing wrong with you and that you have a fire inside you that I am so incredibly grateful for. Even at the age of seven, I can see the strong will inside of you. That determination that you have is going to serve you well in life. Don’t lose that.
There are people who are going to try to get you to conform to what’s expected of you as a little girl. They’re going to tell you that you really don’t want to be a veterinarian because you don’t want to have to go to school for too long. Don’t worry, things turn out okay. But try not to listen to them. Try not to let them extinguish your flame. Try not to let them extinguish your dreams and desires. You are going to change the world.
For now, I’m going to tell you a secret. You have incredible wisdom. And when you see things that are f*cked up, you’re not wrong. Even if others tell you, that’s the way the world works. You have an inner knowing and I want you to stay true to that. I love you. You are absolutely perfect.
These are hard years. People will tell you that they’re the best years of your life, but they’re wrong. And if they really believe that it means that it all goes downhill after high school and college. And the real truth is that it gets better and better the older you get.
During the ages of 11 to 21, you’re testing your boundaries. You’re growing. You’re seeing what you’re capable of. You’re testing out your independence and what you enjoy.
So, here’s what’s really going on. You’re trying hard to fit in. You desperately want to find your posse and you will. But it’s going to take some time. You want belonging and to be understood so much that you’re willing to sacrifice your integrity for a few scraps of attention from the male gaze.
As a result, you’re giving up parts of yourself in order to be pleased, to be accepted, to fit in. And yet, at the same time, you’re trying to stand out.
The societal messages that you’re receiving from your peers, from the media, and your community is that it’s not cool to be smart. Being your true, authentic self is threatening to boys. And so, you’d better hide that part that’s threatening because being married, finding a mate is how others will determine whether you’re worthy or not.
What no one has told you is that no one or nothing outside of you is going to create that sense of belonging, worthiness, enoughness, acceptance, or completeness. All of that has to come from inside of you. But no one is teaching you that. No one is going to teach you that for a while.
I know that you’re doing your best. You’re trying so hard to make sense of the world around you. What the world is all about and how you fit in it. As a result, you’re shapeshifting and people pleasing. And abandoning the authentic you in favor of who other people want you to be.
I’m sorry that the teen years and young adult years have been so difficult. But they just are. Some other people had it easier and others have had it worse. They’re difficult because they’re the years where we’re trying to figure out who we are. Like when you are a child, you wanted to do things that you just weren’t capable of doing yet.
I’m sorry that you feel like you had to hide aspects of yourself and become hard, negative, and judgmental. And turn parts of you and emotions off in order to not get hurt. But even though you became resentful of this part of your life, you’ll learn that it was all happening for you. And you’ll learn that you are so super strong.
I forgive you for turning parts of you off. You didn’t know any better, and I’d argue that you were just trying to do what you thought was the best decision possible given the circumstances. You were just trying to survive. But overall, I am so incredibly proud of you. I’m proud of you for adapting and not giving up, for trying to make sense of it all, and not allowing that fire inside you to get extinguished.
Oh, sweetheart. So, a few things. First, you do not need to find a husband in order to be considered worthy. I have so much empathy and compassion for you because you took the first man that would have you and you deserve so much more than that. Eventually, you figured it out. You were able to connect the dots and understand that the future you were headed towards was not the future you desired.
During these years, you learned to eat emotionally as you were living and doing what you thought other people wanted from you. You learned how to eat your emotions instead of feel them. As a result, you gained a fair amount of weight.
I forgive you for abandoning yourself. You didn’t know any better. You didn’t feel safe, and this was the only way you knew how to protect yourself, and you did it by creating the layer of fat outside of yourself that protected you from being hurt.
I am so proud of you for realizing that you weren’t happy in that marriage and that being true to yourself was way more important than saving face and being called a failure by leaving the marriage. I know that it was scary. It took so much courage for you to do it. You had so much self-doubt.
Many judged that you chose yourself instead of choosing the path that was expected of you. And that takes so much strength to start over again from nothing. But you know, what? This was the best choice for you, and not only for your future, but for you.
Even back then, you knew that you would reap the benefits from and suffer the consequences of your decisions. Even though, you walked down the aisle because that’s what was expected of you. You didn’t want to disappoint everyone who was counting on you to follow through. You ultimately realized that this wasn’t what you wanted and that if you continued along, you’d be the one to pay the price.
So, thank you for your strength. I am so incredibly proud of you. This decade was pivotal for you because you went against the grain a few times. You realized that other people were always going to have opinions about your life, but you are the only one whose opinion really counts because you’re the only one who has skin in the game.
Still, you have a ton of self-doubt and those around you know that. By following your own internal compass, your challenging expectations that others might have of their own lives. For those that follow the path of least resistance and do what’s expected of them. Seeing you exit the box is challenging to their own self-concept.
As such, they’ll do what they can do to keep you in the box. It’s comfortable in the box, but it’s also suffocating there.
So, thank you for following your own path. It took a ton of courage, and you are in a better place for it. I love you.
I didn’t realize until years later. In fact, only recently from when I’m writing this. That the death of a parent, specifically your mother, changes you and how you think about the world.
At the age of 33, you’ve now been confronted with your own mortality. You can connect the dots and see that if you continue doing what you are doing, you are going to follow in the footsteps of your mom.
This is where you’ve pivoted within your career of doing the safe thing to again, going inward and following your dream. Deciding that you wanted to leave the world in a better place. And what that meant for you was helping folks avoid lifestyle disease. So that they wouldn’t be in pain like you saw your mom.
In helping others, you’ve ultimately helped yourself. You could have given up so many times, but that will and determination that you’ve had as a child has served you well here. Eventually, you’ll get it. But it’s going to take a while. You’re going to have failures; you’re going to have to pivot.
You’ll even temporarily give up. But ultimately, you figure it out. Maybe it was looking to me, your future self, that allowed you to see the path out. Regardless, if you hadn’t been able to look into the future to predict what might happen. We wouldn’t be helping so many women with the exact thing that you’re struggling with right now.
During this time, you’re also trying to figure out exactly who you are. Now that you’ve moved away from where you grew up and are no longer under your family’s wing, you’re really discovering your own voice, your own path, and deciding what you want life to look like for you.
This decade has been a time of growth and discovery. And it’s laying critical work for your future. You feel like you’re struggling and failing, but you’re learning. And that’s what learning looks like. So, thank you for spending this time. You’re going to figure it out.
I just cannot believe how much you’ve changed in the past 10 years. As a 43 year old, you are in for the ride of your life. I don’t want to spoil the surprise. But you’re moving to Mexico in about five years. I know. I can’t believe you did it either. You are doing what most people only dream about
Talk about challenging people’s expectations of coloring outside the lines. The decision to sell the house in Austin and sell pretty much everything really flies in the face of the American dream. The thing that we’re supposed to want. What has truly been inspiring to watch is all the intentional personal development work that you’ve done in this phase of your life. Specifically, since you’ve moved to Mexico.
This has been the absolute hardest thing that you’ve ever done. But by far, it has created the most growth. If I had to do it all again, I wouldn’t do it any other way. The friendships that you’ve cultivated here have been so strong and unique. And your relationship with Gary is closer than ever, as you’ve become more authentically, you.
You’ve become softer, much less judgmental of yourself, others, and situations. You’ve become more positive in nature and happier as a result in the recent past. And it’s all done through managing your mind, in talking to yourself, and being able to call out unhelpful thoughts that our crazy brain just offers us.
You’ve been able to grow into a version of yourself that the younger version of us would be so super psyched to have met.
Congratulations! It’s only going to get better from here.
So, this last letter is a letter to the past version of me from the past year.
This past year, you have blown me away. As I’ve been reflecting on the different stages of our life together, it’s clear that you’ve always had an internal compass that’s guided us in the direction that we’ve wanted to take.
What’s been shocking to me is just the sheer amount of societal pressure that you’ve had to endure. Even though it’s obvious in retrospect that you’ve been shedding the layers of expectations throughout all of those decades, there’s still just so much.
This year, I am proud of you for taking on the project of stopping people pleasing. It’s been our goal this whole year and it’s been really super difficult. There’s been a ton of self-doubt and worry about the judgements of others. But I am so proud of you because of what it’s helping us to achieve, which is a more authentic life.
Maybe it’s normal to evaluate relationships at this stage of our life and decide how we’re showing up. Maybe it’s the curse of moving into midlife where we’re sick of all the BS, but I love how we are unwilling to show up in our relationships as anyone other than who we truly are.
The past year has been terrifying. What if someone rejected us for being who we really were? But the underlying belief that we would rather have people dislike us for who we really are than love us for who we aren’t, has been so incredibly grounding.
With this simple concept and not so simple action, others now know where they stand with us, and we’ve become more authentic in who we are. We’ve become more accepting of who we are, and we’ve become more accepting of others. And as a result, we no longer hide the parts of us that we judged. And what we’ve learned in the process is that there are no parts to judge.
Through completing the advanced certification in feminist coaching, the veil has been lifted on how we’ve been raised in a patriarchal society that uses judgment and fear as its core power. It’s now completely fascinating to see patriarchy in practice. Acknowledge the subtle and not so subtle messages that you’ve absorbed, and then actively decide whether we want to believe them or whether they serve us.
What I truly love is the realization that all the judgements that we have. That all the SHOULDs and SHOULDN’T that go on in our brain that say, I should do this, I should do that. I shouldn’t do this thing that I want. I can’t have that. Those ideas that we follow, they’re all made up. They were rules made up by a bunch of white men who had no idea what the F they were doing, except that they wanted to control women, and minorities.
And so, they decided on a bunch of rules that don’t even make sense. And quite honestly, they’re harmful. They’re harmful not only to women, and minorities, but they’re harmful to themselves.
This work is so incredibly important for you rewriting your own history and then rewriting your future. When you can do it with intent, you will inspire millions, and I cannot wait for that.
This past year, you’ve become unapologetic in promoting your business. This is amazing because there are so many women in this world who are looking for the help that you offer. You cannot allow the opinions of folks who do not have skin in the game to keep you small.
You are incredibly capable of just amazing things. And you are paving your way for future US, as well as a whole host of other women who are waiting to see what you can achieve so that you can inspire them as well.
They don’t even know what’s possible for them, and you are showing them. We are here to inspire you, the listener, to do what’s uncomfortable because your life is the only one that truly matters.
I love all the past, present, and future versions of me.
All of us are conspiring together to create a life that is ours. A life with intention, meaning love kindness, and tremendous impact. If this is what we’ve been able to accomplish in the past, I cannot wait to see what we are capable of in the future.
Thank you, past versions of me. I have so much gratitude towards you.
Okay. So, now you might be wondering, why did I do this? And the answer is we cannot fully move into the future until we heal the past. If you want to do this exercise for yourself, I would highly, highly, highly recommend it. What you want to do is take your age, divide it up by five.
And on a piece of paper, write each sheet of paper, put the heading of whatever that age range is. So, if you’re 50, it would be zero to 10, 11 to 20, 21 to 30, 31 to 40, and 41 to 50. And then, start out by listing out all of the major things that happened in those years. All of the memories that you had. All of the things that you struggled with. All of the problems that you had, the relationships that you had.
And then, really try to look at each of those segments of your life and make sense of them. Write a love letter to that past version of yourself. Explain to her what exactly was going on. Why things happened the way they did.
The more that you can look at your past and explain to the former version of you what was happening. So that you can heal that part of you, the less time and energy you will spend on it and having it impact your future.
I hope you do this for yourself. So that you can create goals that you are proud of and live a life that is authentically yours. That’s all I have for you today. Have an amazing day, everyone. I’ll see you next week for episode 100. Bye-bye.
Hey, Thanks for listening.
If you’re done with dieting and would like to work with me as your coach, I’d like to invite you to reach out to myself and my team to ask about programs and pricing. Go to elizabethsherman.com/contact to get started today. I can’t wait to hear from you. See you next week.