Hitting 'Publish' on yesterday's Instagram post terrified me.
I’d taken it on the first day of my period. I was bloated, covered in hormonal acne, hair un-brushed, and dark circles under my eyes.
Showing it terrified me. I was not having a good body image that day.
Because it wasn’t just the stuff on the outside I was angry at that day. I was angry at my body.
I was angry that my periods have to be so terrible and crippling. I was sad that I’d missed a day of my weekend because I was stuck laying on the couch covered in heat packs.
I felt frustrated that I hadn’t gotten to sleep the night before because I’d been in so much pain. I felt insecure because I was so bloated nothing in my closet fit me (except my stretchy leggings).
And a whole other host of period-related health issues that I’ll save for another day.
But I posted it.
And the reason I posted it was that it is so important to me to be transparent, real, and authentic with you. As I said in my Instagram post:
Days like this are my truth - just as much my truth as are the days when I dress up, makeup, and feel exuberant and radiant.
I’ve had therapy in the past. I’ve done years of training and research to master my mind and to not let unhelpful thought patterns run my life.
And yet I still have tough body image days, days where I catch myself in a self-unloving thought.
I feel shameful, guilty and obliged to choke down a kale-y salad when I’ve eaten fast food more than once a week
I feel frustrated, disappointed and insecure when my favorite booty jeans don’t fit
I feel guilty and discouraged when I don’t work out for a few days (or a few weeks) because work has been nuts
I feel ashamed and self conscious when I eat "unhealthy" food around other people
I feel a pang of envy and comparison-itis when other girls get praised for their weight loss
I feel nervous, or afraid of judgment, when I post “real” full-body photos of myself online
I feel sadness and despair that I have to go through my chronic illness and be crippled with pain
After years of inner work and mindset training, these thoughts don’t happen often. In fact, their instances get rarer as time goes on.
But whilst they feel icky and uncomfortable to acknowledge, much less to write about, I can’t deny that these feelings sometimes surface.
Mostly, when I catch a self un-loving thought, I can nip it in the bud and move on without another thought.
Other times, if I’m feeling tired, or off guard, these feelings take a little more time to work through.
Here’s how I do it.
STEP ONE: KNOW THAT EVERYONE HAS BAD BODY IMAGE MOMENTS SOMETIMES
Remember: your self relationship is like any other committed relationship with another person.
Even if you’re crazy in love with someone, not every moment is something out of a Disney fairy tale. There will be challenges, tough moments, and ups and downs.
Even though I love my body, some days I feel angry with it, let down by it, or sad about it.
The quality of your relationships is not determined by its conflicts, but rather by how you handle them. The same is true for your self-relationship.
STEP TWO: ACKNOWLEDGE THE FEELING
It can be tempting to just squish down a feeling we don’t want to feel, but this won’t get rid of the feeling. In fact, it will only stick around longer, bubbling beneath the surface.
When it comes to emotions, the fastest way out is through! By acknowledging your feeling, you allow it to pass much faster.
You can do this with a simple statement that you can say to yourself (in your head or aloud), such as: I feel embarrassed that I don’t fit into these size 12 jeans I’m trying on.
STEP THREE: ACCEPT THE FEELING
In manifestation (and in life), what you resist persists. The harder you try to scramble out of a yucky emotion, the longer it sticks around.
Pushing against the feeling is still focusing on the feeling itself - and what you focus on expands.
Accept that it okay to feel this way right now, and it will pass soon. You can do this by repeating a short affirmation to yourself.
The easiest way to do this is by tacking “it is okay” onto the end of the “acknowledgment” statement you made before. For example: I feel embarrassed that I don’t fit into these size 12 jeans I’m trying on, and it is okay.
STEP FOUR: ASK YOURSELF WHERE THIS FEELING COMES FROM
I love to do some sleuthing and find out where a popup self unloving thought has come from.
Sometimes it’s because I feel tired and hangry and is not how I really feel. In those cases, I snap myself out of it by moving onto the next steps.
But other times, these popup thoughts are worth exploration. I turn inward, sit with the feeling, and ask the hard questions that I need to ask.
Where does this feeling come from?
Where did I learn to feel [emotion] about [the situation]?
Why am I really feeling [emotion]?
Is this really my belief, or am I defaulting back to my programming?
What do I truly want/need at this moment?
STEP FIVE: REMEMBER, YOU ARE SO MUCH MORE THAN YOUR BODY
Yes, your body is a part of you: a wonderful part, and an important part. It keeps you alive, and it moves you through all the wonderful experiences of your life.
And also you are SO MUCH MORE than your body.
You are also those experiences your body you carried to. You are your uncontrollable giggle fits, your enormous capacity for love, and your warm smile.
You are the things you love, the knowledge you’ve mastered, the hobbies you rock at, and the people you care about.
You are so much more than your body. You are so much more than this one moment that feels less than wonderful.
YOU are wonderful.
STEP SIX: REMEMBER YOU ARE WORTHY
Now it is time to come back home to your truth. By this, I mean the truth you know you carry deep down inside.
You are worthy, just as you are, right now.
You are enough.
And so is your body.
Use this truth to temper the icky body emotion you’re carrying right now by repeating it to yourself. For example, if we continue with the example of trying on jeans at the store: It is normal for my body to change with time. Dress sizes are subjective to brands and manufacturers and are not a reflection of me or my worth. I love and accept my body, just as it is right now.
STEP EIGHT: CHOOSE A BETTER THOUGHT
To go from feeling embarrassed about one’s dress size to feeling like a confident badass in one giant leap is a big ask! But luckily, to start feeling good, we don’t have to!
All we need to do is to choose a better thought than the one we’re currently thinking.
Remember: what we focus on expands. So, if we focus on a thought that feels better, we’ll attract more things that feel good!
With time, we can ease out of that icky feeling and back into our confident selves!
The easiest way to form an empowered perspective is by merging our inner truth and our current feeling.
I do this by forming a little affirmation that I can repeat to myself until my vibration starts to shift. From there, I can step up to an even better thought.
Here’s what I mean. I feel embarrassed that I don’t fit into these size 12 jeans I’m trying on, and it is okay. I know my body naturally fluctuates in size. I know that dress sizes are subjective to brand, and I also know that dress sizes are not a metric of my self worth. Even though I feel embarrassed, I deeply and completely love and accept myself right now.
STEP NINE: FOCUS ON SOMETHING WONDERFUL
As you repeat this affirmation, it’s important to focus on things other than your body.
Don’t let a flickering thought ruin your day: focus on all the wonderful things that aren’t going wrong right now.
Maybe it’s getting snuggles from your adorable furbaby. Maybe it’s laying on the grass in the sunshine and looking up at the bright blue sky.
Now is the perfect time to lavish yourself with self care and do something loving and kind for yourself. Take a bubble bath, slap on a face mask, slop on a hair treatment, or take yourself out on a romantic candlelit date for one.
Do something to remind yourself that you are wonderful: because you ARE.
STEP TEN: PRACTICE BODY GRATITUDE
Our bodies are miraculous just for keeping us alive. It can be easy to lose sight of this in a bad body image moment.
Gratitude is the antidote to fear. Remember, you cannot experience fear and appreciation in the body at the same time!
Think of things to be grateful for about your body. Here’s a list of suggestions to get you started:
Thank you, body, for the heart that pumps life-giving blood and oxygen through my veins.
Thank you, body, for my eyes to watch my favorite movies and read my favorite books.
Thank you, body, for my ears to listen to my favorite music.
Thank you, body, for my taste buds to taste all my favorite foods.
Thank you, body, for the immune system that keeps me healthy and well.
Thank you, body, for my brain full of a lifetime of knowledge.
Now have a go at creating your own!
You can either do this in the moment, or create one in advance. This way, you can reach for it at any time to remind you of your wonderfulness.
Starting your self love journey is a tricky business! When you find a bad body image moment crop up, it can be tempting to try and squish it away.
But when you listen to your feelings and honor them, you allow them to show you the parts of you that need healing. By extension, you forge an even deeper connection to your body, and strengthen your self love.
Now I would love to hear from you. Does today’s post resonate with you? Have you noticed these feelings coming up for you? Share your story with our self love community in the comments below!
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