Thursday, August 19, 2010

How Do YOU Change The Way You See Yourself?

Sometimes my favorite part about a blog post is reading the comments. Often, the post itself is simply a starting off point. It’s the beginning of a discussion that continues on long after the author has finished her own story. Such was the case with my last post on chronic pain. The comment section is a testament to how many of us have dealt with similar issues, but also a wonderful resource of tips and suggestions from people who have been there and come out on the other side. Similarly, my recent post on weight and body image yielded a number of thoughtful comments from women (and not to exclude anyone, there was also a great comment from a guy) who all understand the pressure to look a certain way. One thing that we all agreed on is that it’s time to start loving ourselves and stop letting the media dictate our self worth. 

One of the comments that struck me was from a good friend and fellow blogger, who wrote that she was working on getting her mind to the same place as mine. Well here’s the thing. I am not there. I finally realized where “there” is, and it’s not some distant place where I look like a Victoria’s Secret model. There is where I’ve always been. My mind is just finally catching up. Like I wrote in that post, I’ve had 28 years to believe I wasn’t good enough. That won’t change in a day. But here are some of the ways I’ve been working on changing my way of seeing myself:

1. Focus on your favorite attributes, not your flaws. I imagine I’ve spent countless hours looking in the mirror at my flaws. Picking apart my face and body, wondering if other people see what I see. Now, whenever I find myself doing this, I stop and pick a feature I like. My eyes, my lips, my hair, whatever looks nice that day. And I spend as much time oohing and aahing over my beautiful hair as I would have spent critiquing something else. By the time I walk away from the mirror, I find myself feeling confident and quite sure that if anyone notices anything about me, it will be what a great hair day I’m having, not the fact that my stomach isn’t as flat as I think it should be.

2. Stay away from the magazines! This is a do as I say, not as I do tip. I LOVE reading People and US Weekly. But they never make me feel good about myself. It's almost impossible to read them without starting to play the comparison game. I think of them like candy. They taste so good, but rot my soul. My concession is that I won’t buy them because I refuse to give them money, but whenever I find a free copy (like at the library), I devour them. 

3. Affirmations. This doesn’t work as well as my first tip, but I do find that when I’m feeling down, if I write the same sentence over and over, I eventually start to believe it. I am beautiful. I am beautiful. I am beautiful. Try it. It can’t hurt, right?

Now before you go, I’m going to ask you to do two things. One, if you have something you do that makes you feel good about yourself, tell us in the comments so we can continue this discussion. And two, pick out a favorite feature and go admire yourself in the mirror. You’re beautiful... Believe it!


hunterslyonesse said...

I remind myself that all the changes I've made in the last year are to be HEALTHY and not to lose weight. Then I remind myself that since I've made those changes last December, I've not had any infections, colds, flu, or other pesky illnesses that would keep me off my game. Then I remind myself about all my friends and family who love me for who I am and not how I look. If someone is going to judge me on my looks alone, then it's not worth it.

briogusto said...

It's so hard not to compare ourselves to what's out there, even if we put down magazines. It's on the TV, on the internet, everywhere. Just the other day I was at the beach with a girlfriend, and we were talking about our bodies, and she mentioned that for some reason, she still compares her own body to the bodies of teenage girls - the ones with no hips, curves, and very little body fat. The problem is that we (obviously) are *not* in that category anymore...we are women now! It's an interesting mental transition to make, particularly when the age when you start being conscious of your body is generally in your teen years (or at least that's where it was for me), which I think has made it a bit of a benchmark. But, that's not realistic anymore. Nor should it be.

What makes me feel good about myself? Hanging out with friends. It's the best confirmation that I have love in my life, exactly as I am.

Feature to admire...I think I'll go look at my hair, which has taken on a bit of a summery, golden-glow.

Have a great day Iris!

Ness said...

I like to take one evening every week and just devote it to celebrating myself. For me this means I go out to a really yummy dinner, get in a bubble bath, do a face mask, massage my lotion in, and take my time. Just a few hours of doing whatever - as long as it's ONLY for you - is so awesome.

Farty Girl said...

Yoga makes me feel really good about myself. All exercise does, actually. Music. Meditation. Working hard. Progress. When I feel like I put something into the world, then it's a good day. :)

Amanda said...

Much like the first commenter, you have to want to be healthy for your health - not to look a certain way. Once I realized that the reason I'm exercising and eating healthy is because I feel better, I felt the focus on the mirror dwindle. Not that I don't still have moments of negative self talk, I do... but, be aware of the self talk and push away the bad. You're gorgeous girl!

Tasty Eats At Home said...

I agree with Farty Girl - exercise makes a big difference in my self image. Since I've changed up my exercise routine to really focus on strength, I admire how strong I've become. I look in the mirror and see muscle definition where there was none. I can do things with my body that I couldn't do a week or two ago. Feeling strong makes me feel good, makes me feel healthy, and makes me feel powerful. That transcends into confidence. I will never be a waif (the body image that for some reason I focus on - even though I'm short and curvy), but I can set my goals to healthy and strong. THAT I can achieve, and that makes me beautiful. (I don't feel this positive about myself every single day, but it appears in my mind more and more - which is great!)

the actor's diet said...

wonderful tips, iris! i think it's important for us to have a strong sense of ourselves and not let others' opinions weigh on us - that goes for the good comments AS WELL AS the bad.

Lauren said...

I must agree with the Alta and Farty Girl - exercise makes me feel so much better. I only recently have been able to, so easing into it and finding my stride has been heaven. Being around good friends, having a smile on my face, and just not worrying about other things, what people think, what they say, it all makes a difference.

If you need a boost or a push to keep on going, reading this: is always amazing. I try to read it often, if not daily :).

Iris said...

Thank you everyone! Love the ideas here! And I agree, exercise definitely makes me feel stronger. Now that I've stopped focusing on weight loss, I enjoy working out even more because I just think about getting stronger.

saxifrage said...

I know I'm a little late, but I just want to say Tasty Eats at Home's comment about trying to be a waif when she's short and curvy really spoke to me. I hope to one day be able to shake that same unrealistic aspiration from my insides, because there are days when it makes me feel just plain awful about myself (earlier today, for instance, before I made it to the gym!).

On that note, something I do to make me feel good about myself (aside from exercise in all forms, as Farty shared) is sing. Loud and long and clear... It empties me out and fills me with a peace that I simply cannot find in any other way ;-)

Iris said...

@Saxifrage That comment really resonated with me too, also being short and curvy. I love that singing makes you feel so great!

Angie said...

This is a really great post!!

I agree with the comments - staying fit and working out makes me feel awesome about myself. Not for weight loss- but for health.

My favorite features are my shoulders and my hair :)

Thanks for a great discussion!

gfe--gluten free easily said...

It's always a struggle, BUT on good days, I look in the mirror and smile and tell myself how good I look. That's actually how I ended up taking my blog photo. I was wearing one of my favorite colors, had a new haircut, had on pearls, and thought to myself "hey, you look good." So I took a couple photos and I was pleased with them. Smiling and seeing the good stuff is amazingly uplifting, makes your posture better, and so much more. Affirmations do help a lot, but they seem pretty strange at first. ;-)

But, there's so much contradictory stuff in the media and even from friends. You have the headlines and comments from friends, "hey, you are beautiful just as you are," and then you have the weight-focused articles/body image obsessive articles posted from them, etc.

Yoga does more for me than any other exercise ... flexibility, relaxation, and so much more.


glugleglutenfree said...

What a great post! I wish I had seen this when you wrote it. I could have used it earlier.

But, I guess I agree with everyone else. Exercise makes me feel great. I am lucky to have a husband who encourages but never discourages me. Wants me to be healthy so I am around but thinks I am beautiful just how I am. I think hearing it over and over from him has helped me see it for myself.

Unfortunately, I have the same habit with the People-type magazines. I don't buy them, but if I see them anywhere, I devour them.

But, right now, I think I will go look in the mirror and admire my beautiful eyes. I've always liked my eyes.


Tasty Eats At Home said...

wanted to come back and visit this conversation! I love your ideas, Shirley and Tia - focus on what you do like, and allow yourself to like it! Allow that feeling to spread. :)

Lilah said...

What makes me feel good about myself is when I can do something nice for someone else, a small act of kindness goes a long way. My favorite feature would probably be my lips and eyes, I think they are pretty. Great post Iris, thanks for posting.


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