In my last post (which resonated with many of you – wow! ) I talked about how I really wanted to give myself permission to be okay with my body, my weight, and my size – to basically be okay with what I saw in the mirror.
When Emily and I were talking about this, she asked me, “When do these body image issues come up for you? What are you doing when you notice them?” I said, “Every time I look in the mirror! Because in my head, I’m smaller than what I really am, so whenever I look in the mirror I’m always a little surprised and disappointed in what I see.” (Am I the only fruitcake who thinks this way? Any other fruitcakes with me on this?)
Then we talked about specific things I can do to combat the negative thoughts that come up whenever this happens, and I’ve been practicing them for the last two weeks. Here are a couple of her suggestions:
- Acknowledge that the negative thoughts are going to come up. If you’re like me, then you’ve been entertaining negative body image thoughts for many years – they aren’t going to turn off overnight. So when you look in the mirror (or whatever you trigger is) and *that* thought comes in your mind, just say, “Oh yep…there it is. There’s the negative thought about my thighs. Old habits die hard.” When you acknowledge that it’s going to come, you lessen the intensity of the feeling when it does come up. Less intensity means you are better able to respond in a more positive way.
- Immediately focus your mind on something you DO like about what you see. When you redirect your thoughts towards the positive, you are blazing new pathways in your brain so that each time you redirect, it will become easier and easier to do in the future. So an example of Steps 1 and 2 might look like this:
*Jill looks in mirror*
“Oh wow, my thighs are especially huge today. Oh! Hey there Negative Thought – you’re so predictable, you showed up just when I knew you would. Man, I love this outfit I’m wearing today! I did a great job putting this together, if I do say so myself. The color of this shirt makes my green eyes pop! And I am totally digging this nail polish – it’s so pretty! My hair is behaving rather nicely as well. Good job everybody! We are looking F-I-N-E today!”
Every time you look in the mirror, IMMEDIATELY redirect your focus from the negative to the positive. It’s going to feel weird at first, but keep doing it. I’m getting to the point now where I can almost skip the negative (almost). What I’m finding is that if I can get through that initial mirror sighting, it sets me up to feel better about myself for the rest of the day. And if I feel better about myself for the rest of the day, it frees up mental space to think about other things (like writing) which in turns makes me feel better so that when I look in the mirror, I’m not feeling so hard on myself, which makes it easier to redirect to the positive much faster.
See where this is going? It’s the Love Train, people. Get on board.
And yeah, old habits DO die hard, so it’s going to take some time. Give yourself credit for even trying if you can’t seem to redirect right away. You’ll get there.
Try this out and let me know what you think. Also, if you have any other practical tips like this, share them in the comments! We can all benefit from new ideas. 🙂