The Battle Within
I don’t know about you, but I really struggled through January. It seemed so unrelentingly grey, colds and sore throats and earaches seemed to take a long time to clear up, the month seemed like an endless stream of one problem after another. To cap it all, one of our beloved guinea pigs also died. It seemed like an interminable month full of despair and lacking in hope. But was it really that bad? I used the word seemed on purpose, because that is how it seemed. As human beings we are very good at heaping woes on ourselves, once one bad morning occurs, we see the next one as being linked to the first and believe we see a pattern. The brain is great at finding patterns but not so great at telling us to chill out and that it’s not as bad as it seems. Once we have had a few negative thoughts, or unwanted occasions, it starts to look for more instances. It goes to its filing cabinet of experiences, pulls out the file marked, “Dull things that make me sad” and exclaims, “Ta Daa! Look what I’ve found, more of the same, aren’t I clever!” Instead of saying to our brain, thanks so much but I don’t need to go there, we open up the file, pouring over each example, weeping and sighing and revelling in our pity party.
Our Body Image
So, too with our body image. One pound gained, one more grey hair observed, one more overly snug dress being zipped up, another unhealthy meal eaten and we start to feel desperate about ourselves, believing we are trapped in our situation, that we will never be rid of our Monday morning addiction to chocolate biscuits, that our family breeds double chins and spare tires like no other. And before you know it, Bham! you’re right down the largest snake in the slippery game of Snakes and Ladders. And then you feel that life is too busy to stop and sort the problem out, and on you go, careering through the todo list at breakneck speed, all the while running with a limp caused by an accumulation of low self esteem that probably started with one innocent chocolate biscuit. Do you recognise this state of affairs? I think most of us do.
Inner bleakness. We revel in it. But it’s not a good place to stay. Life is for living, not for moping or for regret. What way back to a healthy body image and how to stay there? Here are three easy ways to dispel inner blackness:
Just as negative or destructive behaviour: drinking too much; eating and putting on weight when one wants to lose weight; feeling uncomfortable in one’s clothes are all actions with a negative consequence, the reverse is actions with a positive consequence. As soon as you are able, get into the routine of positive behaviour. In the same way that sports people snap a wristband to reset their mindset, engaging in positive, routine-driven behaviour will reset your mindset too. When you understand that this behaviour triggers a positive mental state within you, you will then be able to use it to prevent actions which lead to negative mental mindset. What starts as discipline develops into routine. It could be eating fruit, it could be hoovering, it could be reading a book, whatever it is, make it something that you can achieve regularly and let it become a habit.
2. Positive Triggers
For me, positive triggers are the following: going for a run, buying myself flowers, tidying up (!) and just saying no to myself. Just saying no is deeply unfashionable. We are everywhere bombarded with “if it feels good, do it”, “Who are you to tell me what to do” and “I’m an adult and I can make my own decisions”. And yet, walking to the biscuit tin for the umpteenth time that day but then deciding that you do have power and control over your life, shutting the door on the tin and having a cup of tea instead will do you immense good because it will demonstrate that you do indeed have control over yourself and your life.
Positive triggers are also hugely useful on days where we feel like we have a mountain to climb at home or work or when we wake up feeling less that our best. Having a goto outfit with beautiful accessories to wear on these days can really help. I know it sounds a little shallow or trite, but I do really believe that inner and outer beauty are connected, and just as inner beauty reflects on the outer appearance, outer beauty can encourage our inner radiance to shine on days when we may feel distinctly under par. Don’t rely on your emotions, who know how you are going to feel when you wake up, rely on your routine and on positive triggers to get your mind in a positive state.
Decide that you are going to have a positive attitude. Please note I am not talking to people who have genuine depression, which can be very debilitating and which will not be helped by me saying, “Come on, have a positive mental attitude”. But I am talking to you, through my own experience, if you are in the doldrums and need to find a fair wind and reset your course. Make the decision to ignore yourself, to put on your favourite dress, brush your hair, put on lipstick and get on with the day. It’s amazing how you can change the atmosphere around you with a positive, can-do attitude.
4. Accept Yourself
I do believe that wearing clothes can be such an immense joy and have a really positive effect on our general wellbeing. Quite often we are so hard on ourselves, my tummy is too fat, legs are too big, or legs are too skinny, arms are too fat, bust is too big, or too small. Accepting ourselves and where we are seems to be one of our greatest challenges. And yet, for a positive body image, we have to accept ourselves, and acknowledge that we are a work in progress. By accepting ourselves we say, I’m going to wear this outfit, my favourite outfit, and enjoy my day. Wah hay! It’s as simple as that. And yet, our minds, which as Milton said, “can create a heav’n of hell, a hell of heavn’n”, are so quick to try and persuade us otherwise. By accepting ourselves, celebrating who we are, and enjoying what we wear, we change the atmosphere around us. We become fun to be around, people are drawn to us because of our positive attitude. Happiness is not something that happens by chance, but is a decision we make.
The Power of Positive Body Image
It is always possible to be thinner and richer, but don’t be fooled, a positive body image is a mindset, it’s not a figure on the scales or in the bank account. Certainly losing half a stone or buying a new dress can raise your spirits and make you feel great, but a positive body image is mostly to do with nurture rather than nature. You really can adopt a healthy image about yourself which overrides negative thoughts that come your way each and every day. You can choose what to believe, just because you thought it doesn’t mean it’s true. Give it a go! Take a day and try out one or more of the techniques above, you could really surprise yourself when you discover the power within you, and who know where that could lead!
Over to you!
So, which of the 4 items above most resonates with you? What tried and tested techniques do you use to maintain a positive body image? I haven’t exhausted the options, there are plenty more, which work for you? Which would you recommend to other women? Please put your comments in the box below as I’d love to get your feedback, and see which are most important to you.
Have a great day!