Wearing great clothes is a positive experience
I was thinking this morning how putting on clothes that make us feel great is such a positive experience.
As women we know that a positive body image is really important.
Important both for ourselves and as a legacy to pass on to other women: to our daughters, to nieces, to cousins, sisters, and outside of the family to female colleagues and employees.
Why don’t we do that though? Why don’t we intentionally create a positive body image and help and affirm other women at the same time?
Self acceptance is important because….
We come in all shapes and sizes and it’s so important to be accepting of ourselves.
We need an acceptance that comes from within, not from the opinions of others.
That self acceptance is important because anything we do, say or create should come from that place of self acceptance. Positive, healthy lives are not created from a place of criticism or rejection. If our lives are motivated only by criticising and rejecting ourselves we are not building a positive framework for our lives.
How emotions affect positive body image
Because we are emotional creatures we can veer from positive body image to negative and depressed within a short period of time.
If you want to change your mood, your mindset, and your attitude it’s easier and so much more positive and fun, to do it via an affirming, accepting action rather than a negative, rejecting one.
If you’re not feeling hugely confident or positive about yourself there are really easy, superquick steps you can take which will move you away from that negative state and put you in a much better frame of mind. (more of which later)
How physical factors affect our emotional state
Even though a positive, creative approach to life is grounded in an emotional state, physical factors affect that state.
How you feel about yourself can be reflected in how you dress, how you practice self care which will affect your appearance, whether you exercise or not which will affect your physique.
In turn, those mini results of a positive or negative self esteem (your dress, self care practices and body physique) will affect your emotional state. If you like what you see in the mirror, you will feel better about yourself. If you glide into a dress and the zipper does up easily you will feel a sense of satisfaction and probably delight that your clothes fit you.
We shouldn’t underestimate the power of dress and self care routines in our life.
Two ways to reestablish positive body image are through self care and through developing positive habits.
Remember that life is for living, it’s supposed to be fun, you’re supposed to enjoy yourself!
Positive Body Image Tip Number 1
Step up into self care
Put on your favourite clothes, wear your favourite scarf, or something in your favourite colour or favourite luxury fabric.
If you’ve woken up and it’s early in the morning and you are going to work, find your favourite go-to outfit.
If it’s the end of the day don’t come home and put on those dirty sweatpants.
Wear your favourite relaxing outfit. Brush your hair, wash your hands, apply handcream.
Looking after yourself is not only absolutely acceptable but it’s also necessary, it’s a prerequisite to having a good life.
Self care is important, not a luxury.
These small steps of positive, affirming body image may seem insignificant and they might be. But when viewed in the bigger picture as switches, or triggers, to usher in an affirming, confident sense of self esteem you can see what an impact they can have.
A momentary action has effects which last all day
Putting on your favourite scent, dress, or shoes is a momentary action but its effect lasts all day. And those effects are positive. Positive body image is a mental state. We all know slim people who are depressed in a world where slim is equated with happy. We all know wealthy people who are depressed in a world where rich is associate with happy.
Deep down we know that externals don’t make us happy in themselves. The small steps, whatever they are for you, aren’t in themselves imbued with any magical qualities which will make you happy. However the effect that these steps can have on your positive body image when you take action is significant.
The Alternative to Positive Body Image
It’s actually much easier to look after yourself than it is to be rejecting of yourself. If you wake up and feel grim and decide, “That’s it, I’m going to diet and eat nothing but salad until I lose 5 lbs/kgs” then you are potentially setting yourself up for failure.
The reason for this is that now you have made your happiness contingent on something else, you are saying, “I can’t be happy until ……. “.
Additionally, by using the diet carrot and stick you put yourself on a tightrope that you can’t get off. Treating your body as an adversary, as an opponent to be subdued and dominated is a very negative habit and one from which it will be impossible to have a positive body image.
Don’t go there. Don’t reject yourself.
Positive Body Image Tip Number 2
Habits not willpower are what you need
Habit rather than willpower is what will get you where you want to be. In anything. It applies to looking good, working out, achieving the career of your dreams, looking after the family, living your life to the full.
It took me a long time to realise this. I always thought if I had enough willpower I would achieve what I wanted to achieve in life. What I discovered was that when my will power ran out I had no back up means of completing tasks, achieving goals, finishing the todo list. My energy was used up on willpower. Without it, I floundered, veered off track, had to pick myself up, and start again.
When the willpower left as willpower often does I was left deflated and demotivated. I felt that there was something wrong with me. Why couldn’t I lose those last few pounds, or exercise consistently or always dress well, or tidy the house? When I discovered that habits get you to your goals quicker it was such a relief! Such a relief to have an alternative to beating myself up for not achieving what I wanted to achieve. All I needed to do was establish habits and focus on making those habits regular.
Why positive body image relies on habit
Apply this to your own situation for a minute.
Do you lack a positive body image? Or, do you sometimes feel great about your body and sometimes don’t? I certainly know that feeling. How do you maintain a positive body image? Or do you not actually maintain it, but hope it will come and visit occasionally? Is there anything you are doing to intentionally develop a positive body image?
What you need is the habit of Positive Body Image Triggers. These are habits which help you get back to and stay positive, to stop that downward spiraling thought process? It’s habit that will get you there. Plan what your habits are going to be beforehand.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Reject imperfection
We might love the idea of being as perfect as possible and having as perfect a life as possible. But perfect does not exist. Trying to achieve perfection, either your own standard or someone else’s is a fruitless task. The alternative is to accept yourself and be the best version of you that you can be, which means flaws and all.
The next time you butt up against your idea of perfection and find yourself lacking, in whatever way, say this:
“That’s ok”. and move on.
I currently have a slightly messy house, and that’s ok! My inner perfectionist voice is still screaming, “No it’s not! you’ve failed! You’re rubbish. You’ll never succeed with a kitchen looking like that!” But the voice is quieter now, because do you know what, “That’s ok.”
Perfectionist voice is always unreasonable. And that’s ok too.
2. No more comparisons
No more comparisons. End of. This is tricky though isn’t it, because if you don’t make unfavourable comparisons how are you going to criticise yourself and tell yourself you’re not good enough?
Take that Mr Comparison, we’re done. I’m out of here. This relationship lasted far too long, I should have left years ago.
Instead of making comparisons start to be supportive of yourself. You can talk to yourself if you like. Audibly or inner voice.
“You look great in that skirt”
“You’ve had a great day”
“You’re doing great, just one more task and then you can sit down and choose what you want to do.”
“You took that meeting really well”
Get the idea?
Stop comparing yourself with others and become your inner cheer leader.
3. Don’t criticise or judge others
I didn’t realise I was doing this until I started to pay attention to what I was really thinking.
Criticising and/or judging is often a form of self protection. It comes from a place of insecurity.
Unfortunately it tends to rebound back on yourself. How you criticise and judge others is often the way that you are also treating yourself. You just might not be aware of it.
Find the best in the other.
This might sound a bit Pollyanna-ish. But people with a positive body image have a positive view of the people around them. They are happy to applaud the results and achievements of other people. They are happy to compliment other women on how they look.
Bringing it all together
So, if you are feeling out of sorts, or drained, if you are job hunting but have not had an interview in months, if you’re feeling burdened by a pile of bills, if life is passing you by and you think it’s only been half lived, stop those thoughts in their tracks.
Put on your favourite item of clothing, brush your hair, put some lipstick on, clean your favourite shoes and wear them.
Think positive thoughts: less negative self talk, less criticism, no striving for perfection.
Do one of your habits. Tidy up, paint your nails, exercise, walk the dog, journal. Whatever habits you have established, do one of those.
These are your triggers which take you from a negative mental state to a positive one. Don’t set yourself up for failure by associating happiness as a reward with a hefty negative price tag. Accept positive body image for what it is, part of your self esteem and a necessary part of feeling fulfilled in our lives.
What was your key takeaway?
I hope you have enjoyed this post. What was the key takeaway for you? For me it was remembering that habit not willpower is the key to success. I need to remind myself of that this week and concentrate on my tasks, not my willpower. Also, I need to make sure I’ve got good outfits to wear each day. Working from home during the pandemic means I need to be more intentional about how I get dressed each day.
Have a great day.
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