Oh gosh, where to begin.
How did liking who we are become an incredibly difficult daily struggle? When did self-criticism become the norm? How did we get here?
I know-how, MARKETING!
Companies have got really good at making us feel like something is missing. If we just buy their product, we will feel whole!
So the economy has boomed and our self-esteem has gone in the toilet.
Especially for women, we typically make the majority of buying decisions. We choose one brand of detergent over another. We choose one brand of toothpaste, peanut butter, and toilet paper and we stick to it!
If that sounds sexist, it’s not supposed to. It’s just true that women are doing more shopping than men when it comes to household items. Personally, I love buying new shampoo, toothpaste (why do I keep using toothpaste as an example?) and deodorant.
Billions of pounds/euros/dollars are spent on convincing us something needs to change. Something can be improved, we can be a little bit happier if we’re a little bit prettier and slimmer.
So it makes sense that it takes intentional effort to undo all the damage those messages cause on a daily basis.
Here’s how I would begin if I had to start my journey to body confidence all over again.
PLEASE REMEMBER NO ONE IS PERFECT.
It’s not like you’re the only one struggling. You aren’t the first woman to feel this way and sadly, you will not be the last. Stop feeling so special in your suffering. The people you think have it all together, don’t.
No one does. So it’s not fair to yourself to expect something that’s impossible. If you try harder, you won’t become better.
You will reach your goal only to set another because it’s still not quite good enough.
The people who you think are perfect, think they are far from perfect.
START WITH BABY STEPS.
I told myself doing the hard things meant getting faster results. I thought if I could tackle the biggest demons, like bully myself into thinking that I no longer cared about what I looked like then my body confidence struggles would fall to the side.
Yeah, that wasn’t a good strategy. The thing was I didn’t believe myself. It takes practice. When it comes to building self-worth and confidence you need to take baby steps.
Get some momentum going so that you can look back on your progress if you feel discouraged. Starting with the big things increases your chances you won’t handle it well. You don’t have the “confidence muscle” yet, but that’s okay. You can build it.
If it’s easier for you to believe what other people say is good about you, start there. Ask a close friend you trust for some help pointing out your positive qualities. When I say positive qualities, I don’t mean physical traits.
You are way more than your appearance, so liking yourself goes much deeper than just liking the way you look. Focus on character traits like honesty, loyalty, your sense of humour, or maybe generosity.
If it’s hard to believe what other people say they like about you, start with one thing you like about yourself or one thing you’re proud of. It can be the smallest thing.
Maybe you are really good at baking chocolate brownies – amazing, go make some to share with your friends and feel good about that. Then find something else you’re good at, and do that. Etc.
Write yourself a love letter – I’m being serious! Write to yourself stating all of the things that you love about yourself, don’t hold back. Let the tears come. This is so powerful.
TAKE THE ATTENTION OFF YOURSELF.
When I focused too much on myself, I got overly critical, noticing flaws everywhere, and finding ways I wasn’t measuring up to other women.
So the antidote for that is to literally stop thinking about YOU. Find ways to help someone else. Our true calling is to serve others and not live for ourselves, so if you have time to wallow in self-criticism…go find someone who needs help.
Maybe a friend of yours needs someone to listen to them. Go take your Grandma out for lunch and ask her about how life has changed since she was young.
When you’re looking for ways to be of service, you soon see all the opportunities to do good things in the world.
If you don’t like who you are, maybe you need to work on being a better person. Not for yourself, but for other people.
LOOK AT THE FACTS.
Everyone has done something impressive or cool. I like to keep a running list of everything I’ve accomplished.
I call it my ‘I am capable’ list.
All the things that make me feel like I am capable of anything because I have achieved all of these things in my life so far.
When I start feeling critical or that what I’m doing isn’t enough, I write the list again and remind myself of the tangible things I’ve done.
I also add some extra subjective things like, “I am funny”
This is a list of facts. Undeniable FACTS. Difficult things you’ve done.
Here’s a peek at my ‘I am capable’ list to give you ideas:
- Overcame anorexia
- Left an abusive relationship – rebuilt my whole life
- Paid off the debts he left me in
- Overcame binge eating disorder
- Called off an engagement – rebuilt my whole life again
- Moved home to live abroad to be with the love of my life
- Learnt to love myself unconditionally
- Graduated and became certified as a Transformational Nutrition Coach in April 2019
- Ran a marathon this summer (2019)
- Teach body pump and spinning classes at the gym, one of my ambitions
Those are the big ones, but I have little ones too like, “I have stuck to my new years’ resolution that I set 5 years ago which is to drink 3 litres of water a day”
Sometimes you forget the things you’ve done, this is a good reminder than you are capable and amazing.
REMEMBER THAT NOBODY IS BETTER THAN YOU.
The creator of our universe created YOU. That, my friend, is a big deal.
You are not the way you are by accident.
You haven’t come out wrong, you are exactly the way you were meant to be.
Not liking yourself is an insult to your creator, you really are amazing!
Instead of seeing your differences and “flaws” as negative things, what if you saw them as distinguishing characteristics?
Instead of trying to be like “everyone else” what if you started reflecting on God’s purpose for making you the way you are?
Reflect on the parts of you that seem unlovable and ask, “what are you trying to teach me with this?”
If you struggle with body image, God might be trying to show you that you’re making your body an idol.
Anything you’re afraid to lose or feel like you NEED in order to be happy can consume all of your thoughts and take up all of your attention and you put that thing before anything else.
The truth is, we don’t need to look a certain way or own any external thing to be happy. We just think we do. Because of how we were brought up. Because of the world we live in today. Because of the recognition, we get from others regarding the way we look.
You are enough exactly as you are and YOU are a beautiful soul living inside a human body. The purpose of your existence is so that you can experience and enjoy life and so that you can give and receive the love that you are. Without your human mind and inner beliefs misleading you, you are 100% pure love. You are extasy. You are abundant joy.
Your body is a vessel for you to experience life and when you understand that your body does not define your worth and that your imperfections make you, YOU, you will flow through life full of joy, love and peace every day.
THE BEST PLACE TO LEARN TO LOVE YOURSELF IS FROM WITHIN.
No amount of praise or validation from others with show you how to love yourself. Only you can do that.
External validation and approval with only take you so far and you won’t believe them most of the time anyway! When you lose your identity or label, then what? That happened to me. I was the ‘fitness fanatic with the shredded body’ I absorbed all of the compliments about my body and took it as proof that I was enough and that I was lovable. When I lost my shredded body because it wasn’t sustainable and stopped getting all of the compliments I didn’t know who I was anymore. I hated the way I looked, I thought my life may as well be over, I’m being serious. How could anyone possibly love me anymore?
It takes a lot of inner work and practice to come home to yourself and to realise that you don’t NEED anyone else to constantly tell you that you are good enough because you KNOW you are.
Remember, this is a daily practice. It’s not something material you have and once you’ve got it, you don’t have to worry about it anymore.
Confidence and self-love is a skill you can learn, but you can also lose it. Staying mindful and fighting against that billion-dollar industry telling you you’re not good enough is a lifelong practice.
But I can tell you when you reach the place of unconditional love towards yourself, the whole world is different and your body image and material things just do not matter anymore. It’s easier to reject all of the marketing telling you you’re not good enough.
If you would like help reaching this place of self-love and inner freedom – reach out to me, I am waiting with open arms and all of the tools and skills to get you there.