Yeah… so how in the world do you get to the point where you look in the mirror and don’t hate the squishy parts of you?
I don’t have THE answers or THE formula but I can offer you MY personal journey and hope you can take bits and pieces and put them to work in your life, that you can build from that, and find your own peace.
If you need to know the background, the catalyst to why this topic is so important to me, you can read this previous blog, but I’m here to fast forward to the messy middle part of the story… the actual struggle. The part that’s easy to gloss over and get right to the happy ending… the part where I get to scream, I’m imperfectAF and totally okay with it!
Here’s 5 things I’ve found critical to my process and, by the way, they are numbered for clarity only.
#1 doesn’t need to be your first step and neither do I find #1 the most important necessarily. Remember, I said the middle part is messy!
1. FAKE IT TIL YOU MAKE IT!
Sorry, you won’t wake up to rainbows and unicorns the day after you decide that you are done hating your body.
You’ll actually wake up the next morning and still be completely bothered by exactly what you’ve spent the past several years obsessing over. But because my catalyst was the immense responsibility I came to feel for teaching my daughter how to be a confident woman, I felt I had no other option than to do the things a confident woman did…
Of course…my confidence was a total “show” at first!
I was ABSOLUTELY terrified to practice the things I wanted for my own daughter.
I had to walk around the pool without my hands around my waist.
I had to put on a tight shirt and not tug on the belly area every 10 seconds.
I had to sit down in a chair, feel my squish, and NOT allow my shoulders to drop in disappointment.
I had to accept a compliment without then pointing out why I was truly not worthy of such nice words. “Oh, well, I still have 5 more lbs to go!”
I had to stand next to the girl who had 3 babies and still had a perfectly flat belly and not feel like I need to suck in.
I didn’t realize how many daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal opportunities there were to teach my girl confidence through body language!
I was TESTED all the time.
And by the way, I fell short MANY MANY MANY times.
But since this need to change was bigger than my myself, I just kept going.
Somewhere along the way, I started to fake it less. Behaviors became more automatic. I realize now I’ve been shaping my mind as well as hers along the way!
2. BE FREAKIN’ NICE TO YOURSELF!!!!!
We can be the meanest people to ourselves!! We won’t allow a soul to cut us down on social media or in person, but in private, in front of the mirror, we stand at our most vulnerable and literally cut ourselves down to pieces.
Fat. Nasty. Ugly. Gross. Deformed. Repulsive. Awful.
I stopped being a bully to myself in front of the mirror but, man, was it hard to stop!!
You know how weird it is to catch yourself in the mirror telling yourself you are fat and then FORCING yourself to say something nice in return? It’s kind of like when you were young and your parents “made you” apologize to your brother or sister for not sharing. You said, “I’m sorry” but you soooooo didn’t mean it.
Yeah. Complimenting yourself when you don’t really believe it feels just that artificial.
But I did it anyway b/c that’s what I expected my daughter to do. Once again, I had to PRACTICE what I preached. My daughter had to SEE it to BE it!
That awkward compliment-yourself feeling sticks to you btw and it makes you aware of just how often you visit the mirror to be the world’s biggest bitch to yourself.
3. CLEAN UP YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA!!
Hey girl who shows me nothing but 6 packs and glutes 360/365 days of the year… unfollow.
It’s called a news feed for a reason!
What the hell are we feeding our brains???
I need people educating me, entertaining me, and feeding my soul!
Delete. Unfollow. Unlike. There’s so much garbage.
But… there’s also so much creativity and awesomeness if you are out looking for it!!!
ADD. FOLLOW. AND LIKE people who’s voice on social is not about LOOK AT ME but about COME ALONG WITH ME.
Here’s the good, the bad, the ugly… take it or leave it… but it’s here. It’s authentic. It’s transparent. It’s real!
I fail… ALL THE TIME.
I fall short… EVERY SINGLE DAY.
I am never ever going to get it completely right.
You know when you feel like crap and you tell your friend or your mom and she puts her arms around you and you can FEEL their understanding? You know that peace when you exhale the hurt and your shoulders drop a little as you fall into that hug?
Be that for yourself.
You know when your kid doesn’t make the winning shot, or doesn’t get the grade, or gets left out and comes to you feeling weak and he/she gets to lay that disappointment on your lap and you meet your baby with total compassion.
Be that for yourself.
Like when you tell yourself you are going to “eat perfectly” and later that night you dive into the Oreos.
In that disappointment, meet yourself as a friend, with grace, not hate.
We are happy to do this for anyone… even strangers… but for ourselves it doesn’t feel natural.
We beat ourselves up because we cannot meet the most absurd of standards!
I had to learn not to pull and tug on my belly fat after I overate. My physical reaction was to pinch and squeeze my belly fat so I could feel “what I had just done.” I had to retrain my whole thought process.
UNLEARN and RETRAIN. No easy task!!!
You think I got that right immediately? Ha!
A huge piece of my puzzle has been blogging and Sweat Unfiltered.
Brene Brown says “Shame cannot survive being spoken and met with empathy” and when I first read those words, I hardly paid attention.
But the longer I coach, the more I blog, the more newsletters I write, the more I KNOW that we all, me included, CRAVE reality, the full story, the real picture.
We are all so very worn out by the fairy tale!!! We are so over only seeing the positive Facebook-braggable moments. We are ready to see someone else’s pain and imperfections in hopes we’re not alone!
I have been met with so much love and empathy as I’ve laid out all of my quirks and flaws online that I now know just how BRILLIANT Brene Brown’s research actually is. Hiding things or passively being silent about our aches, pains, struggles, worries, imperfections, shortcomings, and failures makes us feel worse. Only feeling like we can show our highlights plants these sneaky seeds of shame into our psyche.
There’s something wonderful about OWNING your story, telling it in your own words, and having friends and family meet you with empathy and connection. It’s HEALING.
I’m not saying you need to start a blog and tell the world, but I am telling you to consider starting to journal or begin truly confiding in a friend or family member often, to make CONNECTION with yourself and to others a huge priority! I’m telling you to do the gutsy thing and expose your weaknesses, your flaws, hell YOUR HUMANITY to those who care and love you.
You have to give yourself a way to lay your heart out on the line and let the tough shit go.
there you have it. My ongoing process that began when my daughter was 18 months. She’s now 6.
Not an overnight or 21 day fix from a 6 pack obsessed mom to an #ImperfectAF mom comfortable with her belly apron!!!
Oh, and btw… I don’t wake up every day feeling empowered and full of bad assery.
I have good days. I have bad days. I have in between days. I’m human.
I’m HEALED not CURED of all that self hate.
I’m committed to not turning back, though. She’s still watching me. She’s still learning from me. I am still her billboard for confidence!