Body Confidence – Why it’s not all about change…

Raise your hand if you’ve ever looked in the mirror and been left feeling utterly deflated. Believe me you’re not alone, I have both hands raised too! Thinking about it I don’t really know anyone who is completely satisfied with their body, it’s either too big, too small, to short. Blotches, pimples, wrinkles and hair in the wrong places.

We are surrounded by a society where body shaming yourself is more socially acceptable than saying “wow I look amazing!” without being seen as boastful or arrogant. Walk into any news agents and you will see a shelf filled with magazines continuing to perpetuate highly unrealistic expectations of both men and women, despite years of controversy.

From the fashion industry to the workplace, we are constantly facing backwards representations of ‘ideals’ which continue to influence our daily life style. If I think about my average morning I probably spend 75% of my time focused on covering up my imperfections with makeup, thin hair with extensions and recycling my outfit millions of times before I go out still feeling dissatisfied.

For someone who is recovering from Anorexia body image is something I battle with frequently. Having had to gain weight in a 6 month hospitalization last year just to restore my physical health managing this drastic change still affects me daily. I find looking in full length mirrors incredibly difficult and knowing it can ruin my day or even set back my progress by weeks – I try to avoid them at all costs.

This avoidance isn’t healthy the same way compulsively body checking isn’t either and it’s questionable why I’d give a sheet of glass such power over me… Recently in therapy we covered the topic of perception being the mental representation one creates. Naturally, I was sceptical – believing it was a hoax just to make me feel better.

But then my therapist said this to me…..

“Look at the wall, it’s just a wall, right?….Now notice that tiny grey scuff and quickly turn away”

I did just that, wondering what an earth he was on about.

“OK now turn back and try to look at the wall as a whole without noticing the mark”  

I couldn’t.

See, this is what we do to our bodies, we scan over them viewing each perceived flaw until this is all that is left. Scrutinising the size of our forehead, nose, thighs or stomach until we are internally labelling ourselves “one big mess’’.

But surely this could be easily changed with surgery or a simple diet?…

WRONG in fact this fuels the obsession itself.

In my experience I have spent years trying to change certain aspects of my shape and body. I devoted so much time, becoming so miserable, yet never once despite all the weight loss did I ever look in the mirror and see anything other than what I wanted to change. It’s a toxic cycle that no amount of surgery, dieting or covering up will ever permanently fix. It’s like trying to make a Bull Dog look like a whippet – inhumane and certainly impossible.

What we need to do instead is to learn acceptance, find out the route of what is making us reflect badly. Is that image subject to distortions from a lack of self-confidence, overwhelming emotions, attitudes influenced in childhood or maybe just that overdue assignment. We should tackle this first because how you feel on the inside is what truly reflects in your eyes.

Body confidence for me has never come from trying to achieve the “perfect”. It’s more of a combination of self-love, compassion and embracing the reasons you were given it… Now that I understand living is more that just existing in physical form, I am dedicating my time to believing it and slowly gaining back what I lost to my illness!

…Apologise to your body and let the healing begin….

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Doubt kills more dreams than Failure ever will!

Self doubt.

For some its having aspirations they believe are impossible, tests they are certain they have already failed or a worry that they have done or said something wrong. It can be frustrating and appear at the most inconvenient times but we have no way  of stopping what we think right?

Well kinda…. yes we get these thoughts without asking for them but we can also re-condition them into something positive.

But how? You may ask….well it’s possible and I will tell you how, not easy, but definitely within your potential if you take these steps…

  • Recognise your self-doubt…

The first step sounds ridiculous and I always thought it was too when I was first told. But only now do I realise we do not always notice when we are doubting ourselves because we honestly believe it! So instead question yourself this, would you say these things to someone else? Would it be hurtful? Well if you realise that what you would be saying would be criticising, belittling and putting them down then you need to ask yourself why would you treat yourself this way if you wouldn’t hurt others like this?

  • Stop comparing yourself to others

Firstly I would like to point something out, when we compare ourselves it cannot possibly be a true reflection. This is because we are immediately picking apart all our faults and the other persons best qualities so the comparison creates low self-esteem against ‘yourself’.

Secondly would you compare a grey hound to a bull-dog?… of course you wouldn’t because they are so unique it is not possible. Well this is the same with humans, we too come in all shapes, sizes, races, religions, genders etc.. and most importantly we have individual personalities with no two people exactly the same!!  

  • Surround yourself with positive people

Yes, negative people can have some influence on you too and just because the things they might mention might not necessarily be accurate, it can still have a personal impact.

Ask yourself whether this person makes you feel upset, exhausted or in any way demoralised. If the answer is yes then in the best way possible confront the issue or distance yourself from it.

  • Break it down

Make small and achievable goals that will help you achieve the ultimate. I have always found writing lists helps me and sometimes just writing it down can make the work load, jobs or things to do more manageable. Then once you start working your way through the smaller goals it is easy to see things progressing and finally coming together. The list doesn’t have to take long and as long as it breaks things down enough, so it makes sense to you, it is perfect.

  • Believe it is possible

Yes this old saying, but it’s true, if you believe in yourself anything is possible…

”A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of a branch breaking, because its trust is not on the branch but on its very own wings!”

Yes I confess…. I am also a self doubter who will be convinced I have failed before I have even taken the test, who believes that what I do is never good enough and someone who has to ask others for reassurance that everything is OK. But I too have used these steps to help me in the past.

I took my practical driving test yesterday and did not take these steps into consideration. I have indeed now learnt a valuable lesson and will quickly get back on track….

Before I arrived at the test centre i had already told my parents and instructor that I would fail…some would say this was for effect but to me i believed it. Yes I admit before I continue that I am that frustrating person who has come out of a GCSE physics exam crying convinced ‘I have failed’ only to go and get 98% correct. Annoying yes, and many believe I must be quietly confident…..but hell NO I think the complete opposite!

I started the driving test poorly letting nerves get the better of me, I stuttered when asked questions about the car, did the right demonstration of checking brakes whilst explaining something completely different and mind blanked whilst trying to drive off with the hand break up. Not the best start from me and within the first few seconds ‘I new I had failed’ and was close to just getting out. 

Anyway I carried on regardless giving the test my best shot.

When returning to the test centre I gave my driving instructor the ‘I’ve messed up big time’ glance through the window as she wandered over to find out my feedback and results….By this point I had destroyed myself mentally before I had any evidence of failing and suffered as a consequence and after all the build up I found out I PASSED!

When I first found this out I didn’t believe it and for a second thought it was a joke. But it wasnt! After all the stress and pressure I put myself under, iI asked myself  “was not worth it?”. My self-doubt got me nowhere, all it did was make the experience a lot less enjoyable.

I hope from this experience both you and I realise that we are more capable than we believe and yes we all mess up from time to time, get things wrong but self-doubt only worsens the situation. I learnt something valuable from my experience today and will now focus on preventing a similar situation to ever occur again.

Remember this:

“Although things don’t always follow the perfect route they can still reach the same destination… and from this day forward you and I should both remind ourselves not to let self-doubt jeopardise our capabilities‘’

Take care you beautiful people and don’t forget to Embrace Authenticity xx