You may have woken up in a good mood, be in the company of good friends, have just got a promotion at work (or all three) but catching sight of your reflection in a shop window or a long mirror in the changing room immediately depresses you. This is how powerful a negative self-image is, because in an instant any good feelings you might have been experiencing are replaced with self-loathing and depression.
Believe me, I know how that feels because I spent years trying to avoid catching sight of myself, particularly my body if I could possibly help it. When with friends, I’d start comparing myself to others who were with me and that made the green-eyed monster appear on my shoulder. If I’d found the courage to finally try on an outfit I loved, I’d cringe as I stared at my reflection in the mirror; on the model in the shop, it had looked sexy, fashionable, sophisticated but on me it transformed into a lumpy, frumpy sack of potatoes. From that moment on, my day was ruined no matter how hard I tried to change it and the end result was almost always that I broke my diet to assuage feelings of inadequacy.
Over the years, I have learned what a futile exercise it is to hate yourself just because the lens you are choosing to see yourself with is clouded with an unfounded belief that you are not good enough. I can already hear some of you say ‘it is founded, I am fat so my reflection is ugly, I am fat so I am inadequate, I am fat so I am imperfect’ etc., to which I will say that just because you feel you are overweight does NOT mean that you are any of these things. The very core of these beliefs are false and I believe that they have been ingrained in us from the time we were born. Just take a look around and you will notice it everywhere; in newspapers, magazines, televisions, movies and online articles we are constantly being bombarded with images of ‘perfect’ people. If you are lucky enough to look like these photoshopped images then that’s great, but the majority of people don’t, and the premise is that beautiful is what is portrayed in the media! What complete nonsense but we buy it, every ounce of it and we let it poison our beliefs about ourselves.
To undo some of the harm that has been inflicted on us, here are two things you need to STOP thinking whenever you catch sight of yourself:
I am fat
As soon as this thought enters your mind, make it a priority to dismiss it. There is absolutely nothing positive or motivating about thinking this and all it will do is poison your sub-conscious mind with thoughts about how fat you are. This will then affect every ounce of your self-esteem in a negative way. From today, promise yourself that even if you feel fat, you will bravely look at your reflection and whisper (or shout!) ‘I love myself, I love myself, I love myself’. Your sub-conscious is the very driving force of your life and it believes what it is told which is why saying these words to yourself will have a profoundly positive effect.
I am ugly
Another no-no, for thinking this sends negative, self-destructive signals to your brain which will affect you not only emotionally but physically as well. Thoughts like ‘let me buy something, eat something that will make me feel good’ will creep up on you unannounced. This then results in spending too much and eating too much – both activities that will only fuel the fire of self-doubt and inadequacy. Again, you need to change tact when these feelings arise. Be armed with a positive affirmation that will drown out the negativity like a cold shower puts out a fire.
What to think instead
Firstly, I know it’s easier said than done. If you have been feeding your mind with negative self-talk for years, this habit will be hard to break but, with regular practice, you can overcome this behaviour pattern. Accept that your first thoughts about yourself may be negative but mentally prepare to fight back when these phrases pop into your mind. Try repeating, ‘I am beautiful’ over and over again or other similar phrases. Make it a point to forever arm yourself with positive thoughts, even if you don’t yet believe them because eventually, you will begin to!
Realise, It may feel strange at first, but practice at home when you look in the mirror, say the words loudly and clearly over and over again every time you see yourself. With regular, sustained practice you will gradually lessen the power that the negative words have over you and with time, you may actually stop believing them altogether!
Written by Sherry Taylor
Author of The Anti-Diet Lifestyle