“You know how you’re supposed to love yourself the way you are? No one does. Everyone secretly hates themselves” – Carl Barron 2013
I’m starting this post with a quote from a comedian but it’s still valid, even when joked about. Probably because something we relate to is often the funniest humour, and body confidence and self-image is inherently relatable.
How often in our lives do we try and help others feel good about themselves, but when it comes to our own mindset, we fail to take the time to improve our own personal body image?
There are so many small things we do to self-sabotage our own happiness. We can’t wear that dress because it shows our fat rolls; we can’t wear a swimsuit because everyone will look at us; we can’t eat this or that because we’ll get fat; and it goes on. We actively restrict ourselves daily.
This is not about practicing willpower or enjoying a healthy lifestyle or diet, this is about the fact that if it were someone else, we would encourage them to enjoy themselves. If it was our friend, we would tell her she was beautiful and that she looks wonderful in everything, so not to worry and rock that dress, if it was our sister we would tell them they’ve been working so hard and they deserve that summer holiday so put on that swimsuit and go for it, if it was our coworker we would tell them that the Christmas cookies are delicious and Mary only makes them once a year so get them while you can.
Encouragement can also cross over into enabling. This post is not about toxic people that do not understand others and practically force them into activities that they are uncomfortable with. This is about when you just need that gentle push to take the plunge to be happy.
However, when you are alone, you need to use that voice you usually reserve for others, for yourself.
It’s a lot harder, as we are conditioned to pick at ourselves. About everything. To try and aim for a ceiling of perfection that does not truly exist. We are also obsessed with aesthetics in the 21st century world of the selfie – we tell our friends not to compare themselves, that they are beautiful and lovely just the way they are, why do we not tell ourselves? It’s time to separate fantasy with reality and tell ourselves we are worth it.
Instagram filters have become the new Photoshop. The image of the girl with the perfect body sipping a coconut on some remote tropical island is not the reality we should be aiming for. Everyday confidence – to go out without makeup; to not worry if we haven’t shaved our legs; to rock our leggings as pants if we damn want to; to buy clothes that fit NOW, not ones we’ll ‘promise to fit in a few months’. To be comfortable enough to accept ourselves the way we are now. If we can do that, then, even if we want change such as losing or putting on weight or fitness/health goals, they will come a lot easier if we love ourselves right now, and can marvel at the wonders our body can do.
New Years Resolutions are quagmires for weight loss promises. This is toxic to the mind, because if we don’t achieve it in a certain amount of time, in this case, a year, we punish ourselves and tell ourselves we’ll do it next time. Over and over, somewhere deep inside, we never truly let ourselves be happy until we’ve hit that ‘goal weight’ or that out of reach fitness goal. Realising that this is an unhealthy thought process is the first step to letting yourself be truly happy.
You don’t need to stop yourself wearing a dress until you’ve gone down a size, you don’t need to put off that summer holiday until you’ve lost weight; you can grab a cookie or two without feeling shameful all day. It takes time. You have to use your mind and talk about it to people, mind health has to come first. If your mind is healthy, you’ll know exactly what to do to make your body healthy too.
Some tips to start feeling better which can work straight away are: stop following anything ‘fitspo’ related on instagram or the like, often it can do more damage than good. Get more sleep and drink more water, everyone needs to do this. Buy a book on what you are seeking in your mindset, for example less anxiety, spiritual connection or anything else. Taking quiet time to read can truly put our busy minds at ease and can help reset your goals. Try using a diary, write down what you are feeling and when it happens, and how you think you can help yourself next time.
Mainly, don’t restrict your way of thinking. I hear too many people saying “I want to lose 20 kgs for my wedding” or “I want to lose 10kgs for the formal” or “I want to lose 6 kgs for my holiday” – stop. This kind of thinking means that if you set that restriction and you don’t get there you’ll feel bad, and won’t be able to enjoy an event that is supposed to be happy and relaxing.
If you want to make a change in your life, do it healthfully and mindfully, think about your mind and mental health first and let the rest of the changes flow from that. The journey to complete happiness is a long one, but it’s time to take that first step and let go minor gripes about the outside. It’s time to focus on the inside instead.
Whatever you do, take the time to work on it, we work so hard on the outside of our body that the inside, our mind, our hearts, are so easily neglected. Let’s all work hard on our inner self in 2017!