We all have those days. All of us.
You. Me. Your mother. Your sister. Your best friend. Your neighbour.
Days where when we look at ourselves in the mirror, no matter how far along we’ve come in our journey’s to self love and acceptance, we don’t see anything good.
We don’t see the beautiful person who’s worked so hard to overcome the obstacles in her way. We don’t see the caring friend, the loving partner, the compassionate daughter or the wonderful mother. We don’t see the beauty in the laugh lines, the power in the stretch marks and the strength in every inch of our flesh in all its curves, lines, bumps and edges.
Instead, we just see…. blah. Bad. Ugly. Too thin. Too fat. Frumpy. Trampy. Not pretty enough. Unsexy. Gross. Undesirable. Unloveable. In need of fixing.
And those moments right there are dangerous.
Because we have a choice.
We can choose, right then and there, to either pick those thoughts up, accept them and then challenge ourselves to prove ourselves wrong, or we can choose to open the door for those thoughts, make them a cup of tea and invite them to stay with us for days, weeks, months or even years.
So, the next time you’re having an “Oh my goodness I hate my body, I am the worst!” moment as you look in the mirror, I want you to do something for me.
I want you to pause, and ask yourself these 5 questions before you do anything else:
1. “What triggered me feeling this way?”
Think about this one. Were you feeling good (or at least okay) about yourself for the rest of the day leading up until this point? Were you stressed today? Did you spend time around people talking negatively about their bodies? See if you can pinpoint a moment where your self-esteem took a nose-dive that way.
2. “Have I unconsciously contributed to this feeling?”
Let’s say you were at work, and your colleagues were engaging in diet-talk… did you go along with their conversations? Did you mention your own “bad” foods or talk negatively about yourself to others? Ask yourself if there were moments during your day (or your week!) wherein you unknowingly reinforced your negative feelings about your body.
3. “Have I been unfairly judging the appearance of others more frequently?”
When we more frequently judge the appearance of others (like that girl on the street or the woman that you work with), it’s far easier for us to pass negative judgements about ourselves. If you notice that you have been judging others more frequently, ask yourself why – is it about their appearance at all? Does judging their appearance reflect underlying insecurities about your own appearance? Has someone said something negative to you that’s gotten under your skin and is causing you to pass this judgement on? The mental ramifications of judgement projected outwards very closely mirror the impacts of inwards focused judgement and quite often, we can get these wires crossed.
4. “Have I been treating myself well?”
Have you been moving your body in ways that make it happy (even if that’s only twirling around your living room)? Have you been getting fresh air? Have you been making sure to take plenty of breaks and get fresh air? Have you been eating a balanced diet, free from bingeing or restriction? Are you in any physical pain? Are you hydrated? Have you been over-exerting yourself? Not engaging in the self-care that your mind and body need (which changes all the time) can have flow on effect physiologically as well as psychologically.
5. “Have I tried anything to help me shake this feeling?”
Are you keeping up your usual self-care tactics, or trying new ones? Are you actively trying to move past the thoughts or stifling them and pretending they don’t exist? What were your immediate actions when you first noticed the negative thoughts about yourself?
Once you’ve done that, read this.
Ask yourself these questions in your moments of body loathing, before you do anything else.
That’s the important part.
Ask yourself these questions before you go ahead and weigh yourself, before you go ahead and binge/restrict or try and self-medicate your emotions with food, sex, exercise, alcohol, self-harm, judgement or pills.
Ask yourself these questions, and make a choice.
Understand where your feelings are coming from, when they first started, why they’re occurring, who they were largely triggered by and how they’re effecting you – mentally and physically.
Then, figure out how you’re going to proceed according to the information that you’ve identified.
The path forward from here isn’t about some fluffy, one-size-fits-all-advice. I’m not going to tell you to take a candlelit bath or to go for a run. And as much as I’d love to tell you to do a little dance around in your underwear and wait for yourself to magically feel better, that’s not realistic.
Because self-love is hard.
It’s ongoing. It’s a journey, and a non-linear one at that.
To move past these moments, you need to make peace with the ever-changing, undulating nature of self-love.
You need to know that a setback like this doesn’t define you, nor does it place you back to “square one” of your self love journey.
You also need to know that it’s possible not only to bounce back from these moments of low self-esteem, but to completely flip them on their head and turn them into something incredibly positive; a catalyst for change.
But that’s only possible if you’re willing to try.
Right now is the time to make a decision.
Will you make the decision to listen to yourself and give yourself what you need to move past these self-esteem setbacks?
Because that’s what this is about – listening to yourself. Not to your negative thoughts or outside influences or friends or colleagues or that one woman that you’re super jealous of… but your core self. Your sense of who you are, deep down, unclouded by all the mental baggage and experiences and cynicism that we all accumulate as we go through life.
Who is that person?
The path forward in your self-love journey can only come from the information that you identify by asking yourself the questions noted above.
Remember, your self-care needs change, often. They change when your life change, they change when you get bored of them and they change as you grow through life. Embrace this change, and listen to it.
Give your body and mind what they need to help you flourish.
It’s time to make a positive choice for yourself and use this is a growing experience to propel you forward, rather than to hold you back.
If you don’t try, how will you ever know?If you think you hate your body, ask yourself these 5 questions Click To Tweet
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