What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see all of your good qualities or do you avoid looking and instead speak unkind words to yourself?
If the latter, you’re not on your own. I’m going to be the first to put my hand up and say I can have days like that, and those days seemed to have crept up more and more throughout the catastrophe of, you named it, covid.
It feels, for some including myself, that 2020 has shot a hole into the ever-growing wound of low self-esteem, highlighted mental health on all levels, and forced one to spend more time alone than wanted, which can unfortunately adversely impact confidence levels & feelings of self-worth.
With the added pressure of constant zoom meetings, lacking the energy to make an effort, to being unable to meet people the normal way due to social distancing, and almost forcing the use of social media platforms; collectively is bound to lead to some impact on self-esteem.
Now I’m not complaining about social media, as it has quite clearly kept the nation in contact throughout the pandemic, which is a huge positive, but, I will stress that some pages can give unrealistic expectations of the perfect way to look which impacts confidence in some – but what is perfect?
They say beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, so why are we constantly being reminded to look a certain way – all this does is make us feel we’re not good enough, right?
So, I must admit I have struggled with my image over the years and most certainly throughout 2020. My normal routine was taken away, I had to adjust to working from home, investing my time into my business and other projects over me, to the growing loneliness through lockdown, failed dates, and not always being comfortable in my own skin. I noticed more & more that I didn’t enjoy looking in the mirror and I would have a habit of pointing out my faults and speaking unkind words to myself, rather than noticing my good qualities.
And what’s worse, by doing this I started feeling like a fraud. Throughout my classes, I speak kind words of encouragement and self-love to my students, but I thought, how can I ask them to do that when I sometimes forget to tell myself the same thing? Am I a fraud? It was at this point I decided that things needed to change, and quick.
I decided, do I continue to fall into a rut of self-pity, or do I do something about it? I needed to change my perspective.
So what did I do & what can you do?
Firstly I looked at my insecurities - everyone has their hang-ups but let's change them into loves;
I moved my thoughts from;
· I don’t have the body that I feel is expected of a yoga teacher
· I have a small chest
· My weight goes straight to my middle
· I have hormonal skin breakouts
· My body is less daunting in my Yoga space, and I feel welcomes others into my space without feeling self-conscious
· I love my little boobs even if I do look like a 10yr old child when I lay down and they disappear!
· I’d rather continue enjoying food and having fun, and be a bit more cuddly instead
· It is what it is, I avoid certain types of contraception to make my skin better as it can send you loopy, I’m already a bit loopy, so I don’t need anything else thank you!
· I went out and bought new clothes a size bigger than I would usually buy – rather than worrying about fitting in my old clothes and making myself feel bad by not being able to fasten the button; I removed the concern by getting clothes that fit! My body is changing now I’m in my 30s, so I can’t keep expecting to fit in my skinny jeans from my 20s. It doesn’t mean my body isn’t as good as back then, it’s just different & I appreciate the curves that come with it
· I told myself everything is in moderation – I teach 6 classes of Yoga a week and walk my dog every day, so what if I can’t quite have a strict exercise & healthy eating regime at the moment, I’m still doing something and working my ass off in other areas, so needed to relax! Remember, we’ve been going through a huge change this year and been forced into staying at home & adjusting to the “new norm”, so if that’s enough for you to cope with, then that is enough. Take off the pressure of having to do everything at once, it’ll come, just be patient and put your energy into other things when you’re ready
· I started listening to different podcasts about body confidence and self-worth & threw myself into different books (my favorite being Good Vibes, Good life by Vex King). If reading isn’t for you, then podcasts it is, and if you really don’t want to, then perhaps write down some affirmations &/or a gratitude list to help lift your spirits
· I took a hard look at who I wanted to spend my time with – if you are giving your energy to people that don’t make you feel good about yourself, then walk away. It’s hard, but you really do need to think about number 1
· I wrote “YOU AR GOOD ENOUGH” with lipstick across my mirror. It sounds simple, but having the visual there as a little pick me up every day, lifted my spirits even if just a little. Give it a try; write whichever message makes you feel good.
· I have more frequent breaks from social media, and now follow body-positive & body encouragement pages. I have gone completely out of my comfort zone and started posting pictures of my “rolls” (as you would say) to help encourage the body-positive attitude. Putting myself out there is scary as hell, but if it means it's helping others build their confidence then so be it! Be unapologetically raw.
· I stopped giving a f**k about what others think – if I can’t be bothered to wear makeup, then I won’t. I don’t want to feel forced into wearing makeup to cover my breakouts. If I want to eat a burger, I AM going to eat a burger! You do you and don’t worry about what others think, just make yourself happy.
· I look in the mirror naked and tell myself I am beautiful – some days I don’t believe it, but I still say it as it’s encouraging and it’s better than telling myself the opposite. Fake it until you truly believe it.
I encourage you to try and change your perspective and to love your body as it is; throughout all the changes that come with getting older, the changes that come throughout life events like having your own family, or getting so comfortable in a relationship your focus changes – it is all positive.
As long as you’re happy, then stop putting so much pressure on yourself to change, because remember, there is no such thing as perfection.
Try and love yourself, and if you can’t, then fake it until you do, keep speaking kind words to yourself. Remember, there will be someone out there looking at you wishing they had your skin, your bum, or your legs for example, and you might look at someone else and love what they think are their imperfections. What is the saying, one mans trash is another man's treasure?
SO PLEASE stop speaking negative words to yourself – keep watering yourself with positive words to blossom, be kind, speak nice words & go take a look at yourself in the mirror naked and say DAMN I AM FINE!!!!