Are you stuck in Before-After syndrome?
Updated: Oct 27, 2022
This topic was on my mind for the longest time. The other day, I was looking at my old photograph. I think it was taken around 2015 or something. I thought I was looking fresh and quite in a better shape compared to what I am right now. It got the ball rolling and the turmoil of emotions started flooding my mind. When can I get back to my “Before self”? What can I do to go to that “before” time? Then I realized that I had just one kid at that time, my responsibilities in my day job were way less compared to what I have right now. I had much less work stress that time. I was much younger that time, of course it was a photo from 2015 so almost 7 years have passed in between but my mind was just not ready to accept that journey of 7 years. I was just stuck in that “before” photo. I was fixated on making it my “after” photo as well. That was the first time I realized how much we get stuck into the idea of before and after. It is not only about weight loss, although the term before-after is used almost in every single sentence when somebody talks about their weight loss struggle. But it is definitely not only about weight loss, but you must also have heard about it when somebody talks about how messy their house was before and how they transformed it after using a certain organization system to make it absolutely perfect. You must have heard it so many times how their skin was so pale before and how it turned so perfect after they started using a certain product. I don’t have a problem with working on your problem areas, but I have a problem with getting stuck in a state where you absolutely forget about the journey between “Before and After” and rather stay fixated only on the after results. So, let’s talk about this limbo state and find ways to unstuck ourselves from that dogma of “Before - After state”, shall we?
Hello my dear listener! Welcome back to Morning Cup of Sunshine Podcast, I am so happy that you are back to my little corner over the internet, that you chose to listen to me again this week. And OfCourse, if you are listening to me for the first time, then I welcome you to this beautiful journey that we are on. I sincerely hope that you not only stick around for many more episodes but also go back and listen to my old episodes. I genuinely hope that you will find value in every single episode that you listen to. Alright, today, we are talking about “Before-After” syndrome. If you go on any social media platform, I am sure you will find at least a few posts talking about their transformation, with a low light, sad before photo on one side and a bright cheerful after photo on the other side. Be it their weight loss transformation, home transformation, hair transformation. For the past couple of weeks, I have been seeing an advertisement on Facebook where in one picture they show a woman who is looking like a complete disaster. Her hair is messy, she is carrying kids lunch boxes in one hand, she seems to be scrambling for her car keys to get out of the door. She seemed to me a lot like the normal moms that we see around us, but the other photo was of a super woman, having her act together. She is well put together, she even has her makeup on for the school drop off, her kids are smiling, getting into the car extremely calmly, she is smiling, she has all her keys, lunch boxes and all that jazz already figured out. It was an advertisement for a coaching event for busy moms to change their messy “before” routine to a peaceful “after” routine. I like the idea of helping someone to get to a better place but the picture that we paint to show the stark difference between those two stages scares me. Is it that simple to go from a “Before” to a “After”? We see it as if there is some magic formula and when it does not happen in our real life, we get disheartened, we keep on looking at that “before” photo just waiting for some magic to happen and get us to that bright and cheerful “after” photo. But it never happens, does it?
Self-Love and Self-acceptance
There is a journey, there are efforts, there are challenges, and we often forget that when looking at those before-after photos. Today, I want you to think about it and finally break those barriers. If you want to challenge yourself to get to a place which is better than your current state, then I think the very first step that you need to take is towards self-love and self-acceptance. I know it sounds simple right? But trust me, this is the most difficult thing to do. It is extremely hard to love yourself when you want to change almost everything in you to become that person in the “after” photo. It is very difficult to love yourself when you are still hanging in that “before” state. But a journey that you embark from a place of acceptance and self-love is more likely to stick around, it is more beautiful, and it is much more fulfilling. If you accept yourself the way you are right now, then that does not mean you stop working towards a better future. It just means you are assuring yourself, no matter what you will be loving and supporting yourself in all stages, in all phases. I have created not one, but two entire episodes fully dedicated to the concept of self-love. I highly recommend that you listen to those episodes if you are struggling to accept and love yourself the way you are.
It's a journey
Alright, let’s get back to breaking the before-after syndrome. Once you accept and love yourself unconditionally even in the beginning of your transformation journey, the rest is easy. I have tried putting myself in a strict routine, highly motivating and disciplined schedule to follow through in order to transform myself. Did it work? Yes, for a time being but the rebel in me started showing up way too much and deviating me from the journey. I started getting frustrated because I was just too hard on myself. That’s when I realize if I have to take this journey, I have to think about the long-term effect it is causing on me. I have to think about the toll it is taking on me. If I am taking this journey, then I have to be much more compassionate about it. It’s not only applicable to me but to every single person who is trying to get out of their so called “before” image, you need to accept that it is not a magic formula, you cannot just get transformed into someone totally different, you have to work for it, you might have to struggle as well. But it is going to be a long-term project, again long term is quite subjective term, if your project a very small, let’s say you are transforming your messy pantry into a beautifully organized pantry then it could be a day or two-day job but still you need to spend some time, work with what you have. Not everyone gets a beautiful, walk-in pantry with a huge amount of shelfs. Most of us work with a couple of cabinets or a shelf. But does that mean we cannot have an organized panty? No. We first need to accept and love the space that you currently have. Then rather than sulking in silence about the small space you have and blaming yourself for not having that huge pantry, work with what you have, find the solutions that fit your space. Work from the place of compassion.
You know what, I deliberately did not take an easy example, this could have been explained more easily if I would have given you a weight loss journey example, how you need to accept yourself, how you need to be compassionate with yourself but I did not do that because I wanted to show you that this “before-after” syndrome applies to almost every single transformation that you want to work on. I hope you got my point.
So, self-love, self-acceptance, compassion are three major components of this beautiful journey. You must have noticed I am using the term journey, way too generously in this episode. Because I want to tell you that this is going to be a journey, step by step day by day, you need to walk on this path to get to where you want to go. The transformation is not overnight, you need to spend your time and your energy to go on this journey.
Mindset and Patience
What comes next? Mindset and Patience, lots and lots of patience. As I have been telling you, it is not going to be an overnight process, you have to be patient. You need to trust the process and keep on working towards that end goal. Give yourself ample grace. There are going to be days when you feel motivated and refreshed to work towards your goal, make most of those days. But there are going to be moments when you might doubt yourself. You might have tons of questions, why am I even doing this? You might even feel defeated some days; you might feel that nothing is working out the way you imagined. That is okay my friend. These all emotions are part of your journey. But trust yourself, believe in yourself, and have some patience. You are brave enough to at least start this journey. If you keep on taking one step every day in the correct direction, you are going to reach your destination. Mindset is very important in this process. Having a winner’s mindset, having a positive attitude is very crucial in this case. Remember this is not a sprint, this is going to be a marathon. Be prepared for this. If you start finding joy in your journey, you will no longer remain fixated only on destination. If you start loving what you do to get to your “After” self, you will no longer wait to reach your “after” state to become happy. You walk the path, you fall down, you get up, you try again, you find new ways, you struggle, you cry, you shed happy tears, you love, you laugh. Every single thing is enriching you with unparalleled life experience. Gather that experience, cherish those memories. What is the fun in just finishing the activity, try to find the joy in actually doing the activity. How many times have you heard this quote? I am sure multiple times, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new” Let’s try something new, let’s enjoy what we already have, let’s love ourselves unconditionally without any set parameters, without any hardened expectations, work on ourselves with compassion and let’s help each other to get to that beautiful place which we will proud of, shall we?