What if it Doesn't Matter?

A new way to look at body positivity, self-compassion, and self-love.
Photo by Taylor Smith.

One of my favourite discoveries in my adult life is how you can gently challenge and transform your thinking through "what if"-type statements. The hypothetical question unlocks my imagination and lets me see outside of my situation just enough - it's like a breath of fresh air.

If I am in a rut, I can ask myself to imagine I was in a groove - what would that look like? If I am feeling generally dissatisfied, I can ask myself what if I lived in my own, personal rat park? What would be there? If I am feeling insecure, I can ask myself what would be different if I were feeling confident.

Now I just came across a new one: when something is bothering me that I know is not really all that important, but I can't shake it, I can compassionately ask myself, "What if it doesn't matter?"

This comes from an article in Loose Lips Magazine about body positivity, and so the author (Erin Davidson) is referring to a specific genre of things that don't matter: having a six-pack, wearing a specific size of clothing, how loose or tight your body looks, and so on.

Like most humans, the world taught me early on that bodies can be "good" and "bad", so I will definitely make use of the "what if it doesn't matter?" question the next time I find myself evaluating my thighs in the mirror.

Where else can I apply this question? Some possibilities:

What if it doesn't matter that I am not invited to every single cool-looking event?

What if it doesn't matter that I seem to have a whisker growing out of my chin that I only manage to detect and pluck when it's grown a full centimetre?

What if it doesn't matter that my skin is not always silky smooth? (Or not even most of the time?)

What if it doesn't matter that I don't always know the perfect thing to say?

What if it doesn't matter that I arrive exactly on time?

What if it doesn't matter how many people read my blog?

What if it doesn't matter whether my home is perfectly tidy when I have friends over?

What if it doesn't matter?

The important thing here is that this question is not a bludgeon. I can tell you from experience that using these kinds of reframing questions or affirmations as weapons might seem to work at first, when it feels like there is a monster in your brain who is actively attacking you, but they quickly turn into judgements that just make you feel worse.

It works much better to deliver them gently. They are offerings. A trail of treats to guide that little monster away from the controls in your brain and off to a better place. (Because, of course, it's not really a monster - it's a misguided superhero who was trying way too hard to protect you from pain and accidentally caused a bunch of pain along the way. It, too, wants you to love yourself.)

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