When I first moved to Singapore, something very exciting happened – I got engaged! I was so excited about getting married within the year and needed to find a wedding dress. I was enchanted by the Cheongsam, a sleek Chinese styled dress with a high collar and a silhouette hugging shape. I knew exactly where to find the bridal version of my dream dress as I had walked by the shop many times since arriving in Singapore. When I entered the shop, I was in awe of all the colors and designs of the Cheongsams that hung in neat rows on each side of me. I had my sights set though and was only interested in the white gowns at the back of the store.
The man’s voice cut sharply through the quiet store. I turned to see where it was coming from.
“We don’t have your size” he repeated.
I was confused. What does he mean he doesn’t have my size? I just walked in the store. How could he know what my size was?
“We don’t carry dresses that big” he said gesturing to my body and then to the door.
Shocked and saddened by the erupt dismissal from the shop, I left with my head hung low and my hopes of a perfect wedding dress dashed.
At that point, I weighed 58 kilos (128 pounds) on a 169 cm (5′ 6.5″) frame. I wasn’t fat. But I guess I wasn’t thin either.
I found another place to make a dress to fit my size but the experience in that shop haunted me unconsciously. Before I got married, I lost 7 kilos. In my final fitting for my wedding dress, the seamstress had to take it in an inch something she said has never happened to her before.
In my mind, I was losing weight to fit in. I was comparing myself to the slender Asian women around me and trying to look more and more like them so I would never have to hear those words again, “We don’t have your size.” I knew I had gone to far when I started working part time as a model in Singapore and one of my clients said to me, “You look like a normal person on TV but you are so thin in person.” My need to fit in and be accepted was taking its toll on my self image.
When I took my NLP Practitioner Certification Course, I learned about outcomes and ecology. I learned I needed to have my own goals for how I looked instead of comparing and judging myself against others. I also needed to make sure that my goals were ecological – meaning they didn’t harm anyone around me and that I considered my loved ones and others when I put my goals together.
I stopped comparing myself to the Asian women around me and chose my own goals for my body. This time I chose goals around flexibility, strength and endurance rather than weight or size. My new goals also fit with the ones my husband had and we were able to share getting-fit activities together.
NLP taught me the importance of having my own goals for me. I learned to have goals that fit me in my own environment rather than goals for someone else’s environment. And once you do that, you build on your self-confidence.
The shop I first went into to get my wedding dress is long gone. The memory of that day serves me now as a good story about how I used to be. The lessons of NLP and outcomes, ecology and environments live on.
Next week, my tip is on how I re-programmed my reaction to my husband’s small criticisms.