Learn to love your body.
Sounds so simple, but we all know, it’s not.
It should be something we do automatically. Deep down we know how much our body does for us. We know it helps us to breathe and stay alive, carry children in our arms, give and receive hugs that can mean the world.
Yet the confidence we feel in how amazing our bodies are is at an all time low. One survey found over half of women are not confident in how their bodies look.
The final few words are the key there. “how their bodies look”, how OUR bodies look. THAT right there, is what we judge ourselves by, it is what controls our self confidence in who we are and the actions we take.
As shocking as that stat should be, it isn’t because I bet as you are reading this, you are thinking about the parts of your body you are not happy with, and maybe there are more of those than parts you do like. The thing is though, being body confident is not about loving every single part of you. We are never going to get to that part, and it is okay to have parts of you that you like less, that is life.
The problem is that we hone in on those areas and allow them to control how we view ourselves as a whole. We think that everyone is staring at those parts of our bodies, that everyone knows just how “ugly” we are.
It isn’t helped by the fact we see celebrities on the red carpet loving their bodies (or at least appearing to), flaunting them at every opportunity. The reality is, they are just as succeptible, maybe even more so, than we are, because they KNOW they are being watched by thousands if not millions.
Taylor Swift talked about this in her Netflix documentary Miss Americana, how the pressure caused her to sometimes not eat as she felt she was being judged constantly.
To you and I she looks perfect. To her though, all she sees are flaws.
Just like the rest of us, right?
Then there are the physically perfected specimens.
Athletes. We are in awe at athletes bodies and just what they are able to accomplish.
We also admire bodies that are able to overcome incredible obstacles and show their inner strength.
Basically, we admire everyone elses bodies except our own. And why do we do this to ourselves?
Because our body seems so very ordinary, very flawed and not like those other bodies we admire.
We don’t see the internal struggles that they too may have. It is not in our culture to talk about the insecurities you have about your own body. You are meant to stuff that down and keep it to yourself. It makes others uncomfortable, and it is your private business.
We know that a big part of confidence is believing in ourselves, and that includes our physical body. As much as wise gurus can tell us that beauty is in the eye of the beholder or that true beauty exists within, our physical body is always going to be there to look back at us in the mirror or in photos.
We know we need to be able to find peace with the way we look, and after working hard to figure this out, I think I have some advice that will be able to help you view your body differently, and let go of that belief that the way you look is who you are.
So lets get started:
Email to loved ones
I have a sneaking suspicion you are very good at showing love and affection to those in your life who matter to you. You are kind and warm hearted towards your family and friends, and see all their strengths, all the things they are good at, because, well, they are obvious. Sure, we know no one is perfect, and they definitely have things about them that can frustrate you from time to time, we all do, but you appreciate what they bring to this world, so you tell them.
But did you know, your loved ones actually feel the same way about you.
Maybe they tell you, maybe not, but they are thinking it. This task I am about to ask you to do is going to seem really daunting and scary. You may even curse at me or pretend you didn’t see this one on the list. If you do work up the courage, it may take you a few days, weeks, or even months to actually send it.
So what could be so damn scary?
Emailing your loved ones asking them what they think your biggest strengths are.
Yep, I know. You are thinking, hellllllll no am I doing that.
But there is a magic to this, the way I set this up for you makes it very easy. I will explain why and how that is, but first, before you skip on to the next point, hear me out. This one is incredibly powerful in helping you to see what everyone else sees. It will help you get one step closer to seeing your own strengths.
Of course our loved ones could say all the nicest things in the world to us all day every day, but if we don’t believe them ourselves, it is essentially wasted energy for them. BUT the method here has a secret way of making loved ones share things they may not otherwise say, and for those of you who have people in your life who do not often feel comfortable sharing the mushy gushy stuff, this is a way for them to do that without it feeling so…well, emotional.
For me, that person has always been my dad. I always craved his approval, his acceptance. Not because he was cold or callous, far from it, but he isn’t someone who shares his love through words on a daily basis like my mother would.
My dads response to this exercise was short, simple, but had a profound effect on the way I saw myself from that moment on.
For this exercise, you will need to download the email template I want you to send to three loved ones. The email will be written from me, and it will look as though I am emailing them on your behalf, and they are responding back to me…but it will come from your email. You will see what I mean when you get the download.
My students in my mental training course have to complete this exercise on the course, and it has had a massive impact on them, I believe it can for you too.
So pop your email in below, and I will send that to you, and as a bonus, I will include another exercise called thanking your body open your mind up to the possibility that you COULD in fact be a wonderful, beautiful, perfectly imperfect, person.
One thing to remember though, people are busy. Sometimes it can take a few days to a few weeks to respond. Don’t see it as they don’t love you or can’t find a single good thing to say, I recommend giving them a gentle nudge, it has probably just slipped their mind. The response will be worth the wait 🙂
Unfollow/mute/block people who make you feel bad
“But I can’t, they will know!” you say.
Yes, if you unfollow or unfriend someone, likely they will at some point notice. And I have been unfriended/unfollowed by a few people in my life, which hurts, so I am not going to be the one to recommend that to you….unless it is a celebrity who will never notice. Go ahead.
But still, there are other ways around this.
Let me first explain:
If you had a friend who constantly made you feel bad about yourself, who put you down or talked about how wonderful they are, but told you either literally or figuratively that you weren’t good enough, would you remain their friend?
Maybe on a loose level, we all want to be liked, and I am very guilty of trying to “win people over” who I feel don’t appreciate me.
BUT, you would not hold them close to you, ask their advice and see them all the time.
Because it would make you feel bad. And we don’t want to feel bad!!
Yet we do it on social media. Stay connected because we don’t want the awkwardness of them knowing we aren’t interested.
But all the social media channels have a way of hiding things that aren’t good for your mental health.
Yes, you can unfollow, unlike, or unfriend, but you can also mute or hide people who do not serve you. If you want to feel good about yourself and who you are, the people you surround yourself with, matter. And that includes online.
If you are honest with yourself, and you don’t feel comfortable liking someone else’s post when they are excited about something because you don’t want them to have the “like” or the post makes you feel less than, those are good signs that this person is not someone you want to be surrounded by.
It is not necessarily anything against them (we all do this sometimes), but if you want to be better at self love, at appreciating yourself, that involves detoxing yourself from people who don’t help you on that path.
If you mute or hide someone, they will never know. You can always search for them if you need to or unmute/unhide at any point in the future.
Maybe it will be that this is a very temporary thing. You are going through a bit of a tough patch, and during this time, their message is just not what you want to hear, or maybe it just hurts too bad, it is too painful.
That is okay! You have to do what is best for YOU! Project your own heart.
Next time you are online, play around with your settings (it is usually some kind of arrow or drop down on the right side of the screen).
It may not seem like much, but it can make a big difference.
Remove yourself from conversations about body
This one can be a little tricky, and can make some interactions a little awkward at first, but not only will you feel a difference quickly, you may also inspire others around you to rethink the way they are looking at their bodies (and others). If they shame you or react extremely negatively, it may be worth reassessing how much you want that person in your life.
How are you meant to stop judging yourself if you continue to judge others?
It has been said that one finger pointed at another is three fingers back at ourselves, and we tend to judge things in others that we are paranoid about becoming true for us. The things we laugh at in others are our own biggest insecurities.
If you find yourself in a conversation where the participants are judging another for their looks or for something they have done (without knowing the other person’s experience and/or feelings), you are only reinforcing that attitude in your mind to do that towards yourself.
Make an excuse to leave the room and get yourself out of the conversation or try to change the subject. If you are feeling especially brave, maybe consider trying to start a conversation with the group about this change you want to make in your own life and see if they would be willing to join you in this gossip detox. If they laugh, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have “failed” or should just abandon, you will have still planted a seed in their mind, give it time to grow.
The more you can practice this, the more you will notice that your own inner self talk is easier to control.
And when it comes to the thoughts we have about others than can be judgmental. We are ALL judgmental. We will all have those thoughts, and you don’t need to judge yourself for being judgmental (talk about a confusing no win battle there).
Instead acknowledge that you had that thought, then find a reason why that person is doing what they are doing or what their side of the story might be. Reason with your mind, and you will start to do it out of habit.
It is okay to have those thoughts, that’s human nature, but you can change how you react to those thoughts, and this is a very powerful thing to change.
If you can’t be nice to others, how do you have any chance of being nice to yourself?
Block brands that talk about weight loss or flat belly
The people close to us have impact on how we view ourselves, we know that. If all your friends started to talk about the end of the world and how we are doomed, it wouldn’t be long before you started to believe it too.
But the media also affects us more than we realize. Digital marketing experts estimate that most Americans are exposed to around 4,000 to 10,000 ads each day!
Of course that is going to have an impact on the way we view the world, and more importantly, the way we view ourselves.
What our brains can’t quite understand though, is that many of these images are graphically created or modified to make the person in that ad look the best they can (or the worst they can, depending on what message they are trying to get across).
It makes us self conscious, and look internally to compare what we see with what we think we look like. As we are always going to be more critical towards ourselves than others (a survival skill), we will always judge ourselves negatively.
The thing is, we are never going to avoid ads altogether. Well, unless you plan on moving to the mountains to live in a cave and foraging for food, but how can we limit the impact?
As with the unfollow/mute situation on social media for friends, there is also a block or “I don’t like this” button on the ads that you see on social media. On Facebook, you can click the down arrow to the right of the ad, and say you do not want to see it. Twitter and Instagram also have similar options. It doesn’t mean you will get rid of ads for good (a girl can dream!), but you can let them know that style of ad is offensive or unappealing to you.
Do this for any ads that mention weight loss, flat belly, or any triggering words that make you feel less than.
Same with your magazine subscriptions. If you are subscribed to a magazine that is constantly talking about weight loss and getting a flat belly (or how others did it), cancel it, and be sure to mention in the comments section about why you are doing so.
We might like to think we are stronger than listening, but those voices start to sink in if you are around them enough. If the culture of a brand is still promoting weight loss and an ideal image, they are probably not the kind of brand you want to align with…or give your money to. It may feel like your decisions don’t matter, but they do.
Thanking your body exercise
If you put your email in above, you will already have this exercise on it’s way to your inbox along with the template for the emailing your loved ones. If you skipped away from that section because it made you uncomfortable, go back and read it. It really is powerful.
So let’s talk about another aspect of believing in yourself, appreciating what your body has done for you.
On an intellectual level we know that the human body is incredibly intricate, complex, and smart. But on a day to day basis, we forget that, and instead feel frustrated at it for what it can’t do, why it isn’t better at handling what we are asking it to do.
Sometimes we just need reminding of all it has already accomplished, all it does for us every minute of the day, from keeping us alive through breathing, to giving people superhuman strength if someone they love is in danger.
Try writing a letter to your body to thank it for all it has done. All the times it has carried groceries for you, lifted up a child, powered you up a hill. And of course those things it has accomplished for you beyond just living. How far you have come as a runner or within your fitness journey. Once you wouldn’t have been able to believe what your body was capable of.
We take those things for granted when we see someone else has done something just a little (or a lot) more intense or with time, we forget how hard we worked to reach that goal.
If you feel comfortable going right ahead with it, power to you my friend, start the letter with, “dear body” and then just let the feelings flow.
If you feel a little more awkward about it, especially if you are not used to talking or writing to yourself, I have created a worksheet to make it easier and help you get started, yes with examples. I will email you that worksheet if you enter your email below
Before I begin this one, I have a confession.
I have never been particularly good at meditating. Yes, the whole point of meditating is not to judge, not to say you are good or bad, there is no such thing.
But for me, getting into a routine of doing it, has not really been something I have been able to accomplish. And I don’t like that, nor did I feel good telling you to do it when I am not the best at following through with this one myself.
However, there is a point to me telling you this. Part of learning to love who you are and appreciate what you do is that you are able to forgive yourself for not being perfect. No one is, and not every tip here is going to speak to your heart in a way that makes you take action. You will only help yourself if you do follow every one, but it is okay if a few of them don’t.
If you CAN find a way to bring meditation into your routine, there is so much evidence that it can have a massive impact. You know how earlier we talked about not judging yourself for being judgement, instead just being aware of the thoughts you are having, then letting them pass through like a cloud.
THAT is what meditation helps you to get better at, and the less you are judging yoruelf and others, the easier it will be to see your strengths. Meditation also helps you to feel less overwhelmed, and to just have a moment to breathe, be still.
I have not hidden the fact that I am a huge fan of gratitude journals, and one of the things I want to do in the next few years is create a journal of my own to include all the things that I believe help us to be better.
Gratitude is a buzz word right now, and that is because IT WORKS. By taking a few minutes each day to write down a few things you are grateful for, you are changing the way your mind looks at the world. You will notice that soon you start to look for things to write on your list throughout the day. It makes you more aware of the fortunate things you do have and that happen to you….as opposed to always looking at the negative (and there is a LOT of negativity around right now).
Ten is the amount I recommend, but if ten seems too daunting or too much effort, just start with three or even one. You can always write one thing down, no matter how tired or fed up you are.
I wrote a blog post a few years that included a section on exactly how to do a gratitude journal, but I can also email you all that information. Put your email in the box and I will get it to you within the hour.
Thanking your body parts don’t like
Ugh, what could be worse than that?
I don’t LIKE those parts of me, so why the heck would I want to THANK them?
Well, because it will make you look at that part differently.
Not a fan of your stomach because of your stretch marks from when you were pregnant?
MAMA you are a warrior who physically created a child from nothing, and those scars should be a point of pride, like a tattoo that shows the beautiful life you created. People get tattoos with their kids names on them, you have your own, natural tattoo that reminds you every day of the wonder your body accomplished. Your stomach also contains your actual stomach, and many of your other organs that help you to digest food, clean out waste, and you know, LIVE!
Feel like your nose is too big?
That nose helps you to smell smoke that could save your life if a fire were to happen. Your nose allows you to smell those delicious baked cookies fresh out of the oven, or be reminded of your grandma when you find something that smells of her in your possessions.
And besides, you would like your look a whole lot less if you didn’t have one 😉
We all have things about ourselves that we like less, and that is normal. This is not about loving every single part of you, always. As humans, we are always going to find flaws and finding self acceptance and love is not about forcing yourself to like parts of you that you feel stick out. Instead, if you are able to see the functionality of that part, what it has done for you, it changes your perspective from judgmental, to thankful, and that can be a big shift.
Change your language and the way you talk to others
I mentioned this a little in the section about removing yourself from conversations, but you also need to put a little more effort in with yourself. If you are constantly snapping at others, blaming others for things that deep down, you know are your mistakes, and being critical of others, you are never going to be kind to yourself. And those people you treat badly, they will eventually start to clam up around you and treat you as you are treating them.
And no one wants that.
Try to bring out your inner Ellen Degeneres. No not giving away a 50 inch tv to 267 people. Be kind.
Be kind to everyone you come across, and try to remind yourself that you don’t know their situation. Everything that annoys you or comes across as incredibly rude, inconsiderate, or you know, just being an ass, think about one reason why that person could be acting that way.
Your waiter who is rude to you at the restaurant, maybe her husband just left her and her three kids to be with a younger woman an hour before her shift started. I think any of us would be struggling to be kind after that.
The man who cut you off in traffic, maybe a loved one is in the hospital and he is rushing to get there as quickly as possible, the prognosis isn’t good.
The group of people who were talking and stopped as soon as you walked up. Maybe one of them just shared that her sister is going through chemo, and they know that you lost a family member to cancer just last week. They were trying to protect you.
At the end of the day, everyone is just doing the best they can, and thinking about their own issues. The more we can be compassionate and understanding in the way we treat others, the more we will be able to forgive ourselves.
I have mentioned positive self talk a few times throughout this article, and that is because it really is paramount to how you view yourself.
I have written about it here in detail, so will not go over it again, as I have mentioned it enough throughout this post.
What it comes down to though, how you talk to yourself matters. Talk to yourself the way you would talk to a loved one or a friend. How would you treat them if they made a mistake or they didn’t run as fast as they thought they would?
You would tell them it is okay, that they did their best and everyone makes mistakes.
So give yourself that same compassion, you deserve it!
It is not to say that you will ever stop those negative thoughts coming in, you won’t, but you can change your response. Rather than just letting that thought go round and round in your head, you can say to yourself (out loud if you need to), what you would tell a loved one in this situation.
Try it, it really will help.
Who you surround yourself with, podcasts/books if not in person
I mentioned before that if you find those you spend your time with are negative towards others and degrading towards themselves, you may want to reconsider how much time you are spending with them.
HOWEVER, I recognize that when it comes to family, we often don’t have a choice, and there is absolutely no way you would disown your family. They are always going to be around.
With friends, I would start to question them if they do not make you feel good, increase the amount of time between your visits, and if you feel comfortable, sit them down and tell them what upsets you about their behavior (you can also do this with family too if youa re feeling brave).
Now, if you cannot realistically remove that person for your life, or you just aren’t prepared to, that doesn’t mean you are doomed to a life of misery.
Surround yourself by positive, inspiring people in other ways. Listen to audiobooks, podcasts, read books from people who do make you feel better, make you feel like you are special or you can continue to grow to be better.
There are plenty of people out there who make you feel good, soak up everything you can find from them.
For me, Brene Brown is my go to. If I am not feeling good about myself, I will go find a Brene Brown YouTube video, podcast, book, or something so she can get back in my head and remind me of what matters.
It helps, especially when you do not have much control over the people you are around in person.
Well, friends, that was a monster post, and if you enjoyed my writing style, I would love to send you my weekly newsletter. Just once a week with some thoughts for the week (often on topics similar to this), as well as some things I have been enjoying and recommend for you to read or listen to. CLICK HERE to find out more.