The I-Feel-Fat-Ugly-Old Guide to Spiritual Well-Being

Yes, I’ve been around the block a time or two, maybe three. I know what my self-talk patterns are really about.

Cycles of despair. Neural ruts. They sound like this.

  • I feel fat.
  • I hate myself.
  • If I eat, I’ll feel better.
  • No, really. If I eat too much then I can obsess over my eating habits and how fat I feel.
  • Maybe a diet will fix it.
  • But, before I go on a diet, I’ll binge and get it all out of my system.
  • I feel sick.
  • I feel fat.
  • I hate myself.
  • I don’t feel pretty.
  • She looks pretty.
  • How come I don’t look as pretty as she does.
  • I wish I was pretty.
  • I wish I was young.
  • When I was pretty and young, I didn’t think I was pretty.
  • Now I feel old.


You get the idea. Maybe this sounds vaguely familiar.

This kind of negative self-talk is a way of staying in denial. If you numb out with food, alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, shopping, etc., you are not acknowledging what’s really happening.

Identifying the truth can be pretty terrifying. It might mean that something has to change.

It might mean doing something different.

Taking new action means not knowing what to expect and feeling weird because things are different. It won’t feel comfortable.

But wait, it was already uncomfortable.

Spiritual well-being requires honesty. It takes guts to look below the surface at what’s really going on when the I-feel-fat-old-uglies act up.

It requires willingness to try something different and to stick with it even though it feels awkward.

Pay attention. Question your thoughts. Evaluate what you are saying. Would you talk to a friend or a loved one this way? If not, then the negative chatter needs to stop. Is what you’re telling yourself even rational?

Practice self-compassion. Be nice to yourself. Be encouraging. Soften the hard edges.

Use humor, if you can.

Ask for help. Talk to someone. Get therapy, if you need it. It’s ok to ask.

Accept what is. Surrender to what you have no control over.

Get out of your self and do something for someone else.

Stop comparing.

Feel the feelings, the real ones underneath the cycle. Write about them. Draw them. Dance them. Whatever it takes to feel, do it. The irony about feelings is that they begin to dissipate the minute you allow them to be. Avoiding them makes them bigger and more unmanageable.

Practice gratitude. Look for the “small mercies.”

Look within, not without. Find something to believe in.

What is timeless and eternal? Focus on that! Because we’re only here for a short, little while and we need to make the best of it.




  1. Laurie on January 21, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    What you said really resonated with me, and reinforced what I already knew I know but let myself forget too often. I need to figure how to get this to play in my head like one of those endlessly looping gifs.

    • Loran Hills on January 21, 2015 at 10:05 pm

      I forget I know these things, too! But years of repetition have helped a lot. Just take one suggestion, write it down on a card, carry the card with you and work on that one thing for awhile. Sometimes that helps.

  2. Sandra Pawula on January 23, 2015 at 11:48 am


    I like your perspective that spirituality requires honesty. I get into my own ruts too, but as I get older I see them more humorously. It’s easier to get out because I know it’s a waste of time. At the end of the day, why would we want to be meant to ourselves?
    Sandra Pawula recently posted..11 Awesome Steps to Become Fearless and PowerfulMy Profile

    • Loran Hills on January 23, 2015 at 9:55 pm

      It does help to gain in maturity, enough to see that being mean to ourselves is truly a waste of time.

  3. Vicky White on January 23, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    I’ve been becoming more aware of my Inner Critic lately. Loran, your voices sound suspiciously like my Inner Critic – who thinks she’s protecting me but is rather harsh in doing it. First step to become aware of those voices – great list!
    Vicky White recently posted..When your whole life changes….My Profile

    • Loran Hills on January 23, 2015 at 9:56 pm

      My inner critic isn’t too unique. Even if the words are different, the tune is still the same. Awareness is definitely the first step to changing it up.

  4. tammy vitale on January 23, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    You did a great job of capturing that inner voice cycle – what I call my hamster going around and around on its wheel – it’s nice to at least understand it now, and be able to name it. That allows me to stand back from the voice and disconnect from its drama. It’s almost like watching a video now! I am not the voice – I am watching/listening to it. Freeing!
    tammy vitale recently posted..The Boundaries of The Pond You Swim InMy Profile

    • Loran Hills on January 23, 2015 at 9:57 pm

      You’re right, Tammy. Becoming a neutral observer helps a lot.

  5. Angela on January 24, 2015 at 4:22 am

    Such a fantastic piece Loran! Timeless and eternal – contented sigh xx
    Angela recently posted..Leap! And The Net Will Appear {The Nomad Series}My Profile

    • Loran Hills on January 24, 2015 at 11:05 pm

      Thank you, Angela!

  6. april on January 24, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    wonderful message, loran. as an eating disorders aftercare coach, i work with women who have recovered physically from anorexia or bulimia but are still struggling with the emotional aspects of not measuring up. i especially love this passage: “Feel the feelings, the real ones underneath the cycle. Write about them. Draw them. Dance them. Whatever it takes to feel, do it.” i personally write about them and dance them – fabulous therapy!
    april recently posted..who are you?My Profile

    • Loran Hills on January 24, 2015 at 11:06 pm

      I like to write after I sit with the feelings for a bit. It takes a lot of practice to feel those feelings.

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