I caught myself doing something stupid the other day. Something that I have not done in a very long time, the reason being that I have worked hard on overcoming the very thing that I caught myself doing.
(And no I wasn’t cracking a bottle of wine at 10am!)
What I was doing was much worse.
I was looking at some photos of myself from my recent trip to the States – where keep this in mind, the primary reason for the trip was because I was presenting at the IDEA Fitness Conference (and my particular topic was on Female Fat Loss, Body Image and Self-Love) when I came across a particular photo.
The photo in question is this one here – I do not perceive it to be a flattering photo of me hence why I had a mini psycho episode:
I found myself staring at it with thoughts such as ‘OMG I can’t believe how chunky you look – what’s wrong with you’ ‘eww you really need to start training harder’ which was immediately followed up with ‘OMG what is wrong with my knee?” ‘OMG why does my knee look funny?’ Enter full panic mode – ‘OMG, OMG, OMG I have a wrinkly knee!!”
Yes, I went into a panic because apparently criticizing my entire body wasn’t enough, I had to hone in on something as ridiculous as my ‘wrinkly knee’. Clearly my Inner Critic was on full alert that day!
Can you see the beautiful irony in that?
Fortunately I didn’t have a full-blown meltdown but old Nardia would’ve dwelled on that bloody photo for days and her self-worth would’ve taken a massive downward spiral. Old Nardia would’ve launched herself into a ‘need to lose weight’ bandwagon with the accompanying ‘I’m so gross’ mantra on repeat and at full bore (yes it was very hard inside my head!)
Instead I was able to ‘catch myself’; I was able to distance myself from my thoughts and that enabled me to see the situation for what it was – stupid. Oh and it gave me a good laugh – I literally laughed out loud at my ridiculousness!
An important part of the process though was that I had to remind myself to get over myself (see here for another blog on this topic)
And that is what I did.
I share this with you for a few reasons.
The first being I don’t think I will ever be completely exempt from feeling those feelings or having those kinds of thoughts.
Even though I am a coach and my entire business revolves around inspiring women to shine and embrace their personal Crazy Body Love it does not mean my head is free from those pesky negative thoughts and feelings. I am afterall my own worse critic.
My Inner critic reminds me of her presence with these thoughts but the key lies in understanding how to deal with them when they arise. Of course I make a concerted effort to improve my mindset and challenge the ‘stories’ that I tell myself BUT the reality is these moments of negative thinking are going to pop up from time to time.
In years gone past I would’ve dealt with these thoughts by stuffing them deep inside, in the vain hope that the never resurfaced, unfortunately that never worked. Now I face these thoughts head on, acknowledge them and then MOVE ON.
That’s it. Or in my case, laugh at them (and yourself for thinking such random ridiculousness in the first place!)
If you believe them – you give them power. I did not believe them as I could see them for what they were – silly.
I witnessed my thoughts then I challenged them. I know that those negative things I was saying about myself are not true, and of course zeroing in on my ‘wrinkly knee’ was quite possibly one of the most ridiculous things I have ever thought (and I have thought some dumb things in my lifetime) – that’s seriously going to a whole new level of ridiculousness!
I mean really – out of an entire photo I honed in on something completely microscopic (and of course my rational brain tells me that the wrinkly knee was the outcome of the way I was standing, NOT because I was a fat, horrible, undisciplined person who shouldn’t be in photo’s ha ha)
Therefore being able to challenge those thoughts with humour strips it of any power whatsoever.
Next comes the ability to ‘get over it and move on’. Yes I indulged in a mini ‘OMG my wrinkly knee is uuuuuuggggglllllllyyyyyy’ pity party for a few minutes but it ended at that.
There was NO way that I was going to let one photo and my ridiculous interpretation of that photo derail me, my happiness and sense of worth for any moment longer.
Yet how many times do woman allow this to happen?
How many times have you caught a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and instantly gone into a “I hate XYZ about myself” dialogue which leaves you feeling grumpy and upset for the rest of the day?
How many times have you looked a photo that has been taken and you ask for it to be deleted because “I look ugly” or you spend the next 30 minutes finding the right filter to make you ‘look good’? (Which of course sends you into a tail spin about why you look so ugly in photos in the first place and reinforces the notion that you really need to go on a diet to lose some weight?!)
Have you ever flicked through photos on Instagram/FB or a magazine and longingly wished for your body to look like the super McHottie you have just ‘liked’? (Like seriously wished for your body to change – the shut your eyes tight, fists clenched, wholeheartedly wishing to the wishing fairy kind of wish).
Don’t worry if you’ve said yes to all of these because that’s what I used to do, and trust me when I say there are countless other women doing exactly the same thing!
Whilst thinking like this is often the norm, and something that us women tend to write off or ignore there are some serious consequences – thinking in this negative manner comes at a cost.
Maybe you have never looked at it from this perspective but these are some of the costs of indulging in negative thinking and self-body shame:
1. There is a cost to your self-esteem and confidence (that in turn has a direct influence on your relationships, job and finances – so yes there can be a financial cost to all of your negative body bashing)
2. There is a cost to your physical self and physiology; all that worry, angst and self-hatred has an impact on your neurobiology. It can weaken your immune system, contribute to Gut and Digestive issues and interfere with your Hormonal state (which in turn as serious health and wellness consequences)
3. There is a huge cost to the quality of your life – for all the time that you spend thinking negative thoughts about your body, and all that energy you dedicate to torturing yourself with verbal lashes there is less time available to creating the life you want with the people you want. When you are expending energy focusing on ‘what wrong’ with you, there is no energy left to focus on ‘what’s right’ – and that my friend is a shame. Remember we have a finite amount of energy and thinking negatively, being in a stressed state, or constantly worrying about your body will zap your energy stores!
Cultivating high levels of self-esteem, or as I’ve coined it Crazy Body Love, takes time and practice.
However I have NO doubt that you can do it!
Just as I was able to avoid a potential ‘kneecentric’ pity party by seeing it for what that was, you too can challenge your negative body thoughts.
Thus I leave you with 3 strategies to help you the next time you find yourself indulging in some good ol’ fashioned self-hate:
1. Challenge your thought/s: Ask yourself the questions ‘do I really believe that?’ ‘What evidence is there to support my thought/s?’ ‘Is there another way of thinking about this?’ ‘Can I put this into perspective’
2. Think Different: Snap yourself out of the negative vortex by switching your focus onto something positive. One of the easiest ways to do this is to give Gratitude. What are the top 3 things that you are thankful for – this may be oriented towards your body such as listing all the things that you like and appreciate about your body (and before you say there is nothing I challenge you on that!), or it may be just the things to you are truly thankful for.
3. Laugh It Off: Yep – laugh at yourself for thinking some crazy thoughts. Honestly laughter really is the best medicine.
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